In July, I was proud to show off the Pee Dee to Bernie 2020 national co-chair Sen. Nina Turner, a former state senator from Ohio, as we stumped across the region for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

But as proud as I was to highlight all of the positive things happening, I also had to tell the truth, and the truth is that, from Marion County to Chesterfield and everywhere in between, we’re facing real challenges.

From health care and child care to raising wages and reforming the criminal justice system, working families here in the Pee Dee and across South Carolina are struggling, and only one presidential candidate has stood up for us time and time again: Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Take education, for example.

Right now in Florence County alone, more than 62 percent of our third-graders and 67 percent of our eighth-graders aren’t reading at grade level. In math, more than 56 percent of our third-graders fail to meet state standards, but that number jumps to 75 percent in the eighth grade.

Let’s be honest: We live in a world where technology reigns supreme, and while other nations are turning out scientists, programmers and engineers by the truckload, we can’t teach eighth-grade math to three out of four students?

Seriously? We can’t do better than this?

Yes, we can ... with Sen. Bernie Sanders.

With his Thurgood Marshall Plan For Public Education and Educators, Sanders has stepped forth with a bold new plan to reimagine public education for our students.

Let’s be clear: He’s not talking about studying the problem. He’s talking about real action.

His plan will:

  • Triple Title I funding to ensure at-risk schools get the funding they need.
  • Invest $5 billion annually to substantially expand access to summer and after-school programs, teen centers and tutoring,
  • Close the gap in school infrastructure funding to renovate, modernize and green the nation’s schools.
  • End the school-to-prison pipeline.

Most importantly, while other candidates pledge to “support our teachers,” Sanders’ plan will set a national minimum teacher salary at $60,000 per year, effectively doubling starting salaries for teachers here in the Pee Dee and across South Carolina.

Sanders is demonstrating the kind of bold leadership we’ve been waiting for. That’s why I am proud to support his candidacy for president.

We don’t need empty promises or blue ribbon commissions. We need Bernie Sanders.

S.C. REP. TERRY ALEXANDER

Florence

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