updated April 11
A tearful Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Harvey Peeler thanked the Senate Wednesday for its bi-partisan support of a bill to make sure students can read at grade level before leaving the third grade after members advanced the bill 36 to 6. “This is one of the most important days of my life in this Senate,” said the Gaffney Republican, who spearheaded the legislation.
A co-sponsor of the bill, Sen. Nikki Setzler, D-West Columbia, also praised the effort. “We put people above politics, and that’s the most important thing,” he said.
Some lawmakers raised concerns over the potential cost of the bill, largely unknown before it is implemented. An amendment to the bill expanded, but didn’t make mandatory, 4-year-old kindergarten. That expansion could cost up to $26 million to reach more students eligible for 4-K.
The Senate passed the bill Thursday before sending it to the House. If passed, the bill would hold back third graders not reading at grade level to make sure they get caught up with their grade. Also included are provisions for reading coaches, book clubs, summer reading camps, and required literacy training for teachers.
Corrected April 9 to say “before leaving the third grade.” According to the original copy, students not reading by the third grade would be held back.