“I think that might be seen in South Carolina as defensible.”
-Superintendent “Dropout Jim” Rex on lifting the sales tax cap on cars, planes and boats
From the time that cuts to the state budget were first considered a necessity, Jim Rex has opposed any actions that would take money from the public education establishment. Despite the fact that South Carolinians in every income bracket are struggling to deal with a negative economic climate, Rex has continued to put on an aggrieved air, and acted as if education bureaucrats are bearing the entire weight of the state’s economic woes. Continue reading
A SLED investigation into MiShawna Moore, erstwhile darling of the South Carolina education establishment and suspected test “tailor,” has come up with nothing.
As principal of Sanders-Clyde Elementary, a chronically failing public school in Charleston County, Moore came under heavy suspicion when PACT scores at her school suddenly shot up above district and state levels. When tests were carefully monitored, scores dropped significantly in every subject; drops that were characterized as “unusual” and “much greater” than other schools. Equally troubling was the higher-than-usual number of erased and corrected answers.
Moore-and other school employees- insisted that the scores were legitimate, and that drops could be blamed on harsh test monitors denying students snacks.
The Associated Press reports that the SLED investigation into the situation has ended, with nothing to show for it.
It is everyone’s hope that there was no altering of test grades, and that somehow the numerous and incredibly sketchy indications of illicit conduct are pure happenstance, but it doesn’t seem likely.
Hopefully, the schools overseers in Charleston County and in the SC Department of Education will continue to look into this situation, and prevent more children from being similarly short-changed.
It’s that time again. The time when South Carolina taxpayers can see just how much money the “strapped” SC State Department of Education has paid out to education contractors and consultants during a recession.
This month, almost $400,000 was doled out to a variety of consultants, contractors and political advisers. Unfortunately, those aren’t the only people who got paid big bucks. Teachers may be on furlough, or without work, but SCASA managed to somehow squeeze $29,000 from taxpayers. Were some of these other payments made to folks who had booths set up at the recent SCASA oceanside retreat? Rex’s frequent excuse that contractors are brought in to “save the department money” certainly doesn’t hold water in this instance.
Here is a recap of consultant spending in 2009.
- Year to Date- $2,145,056
Here is a complete list of contractors and consultants who received checks from the Department of Education in June 2009. See it for yourself here.
One-size-fits-all government schools: YOUR tax dollars forcing a square peg into a round hole.
With the help of a $191,000 federal grant, an after-school program will be able starting up at an Aiken County elementary school.
“Aiken Families in Transition,” the grant recipient, will take in up to 125 students who need after-school help in a wide variety of academic and critical-thinking subjects.
According to a State Department of Education press release, Superintendent Rex expressed encouragement for the program, stating, “ Students who are struggling in class can get a real academic boost in a well-run after-school setting.”
Through a variety of grants and private contributions, some of the needy students in Aiken County are going to get the instruction they need to compete and excel. For these students, who undoubtedly have a wide variety of learning needs and aptitudes, this help is going to come from outside a traditional, public school classroom.
In his televised “State of Our Schools” talk, Rex addressed an uncomortable question posed by The Voice: If schools are so broke, why are many administrators running up bills at a “Leadership Conference” in Myrtle Beach that they fully intend to hand off to the taxpayers back home?
Besides trying to minimize the question with condescending laughter, Rex pointed out that only 800 bureaucrats were in attendance, unlike the 1800 that attended last year. Additionally, representatives from some of the state’s most challenged schools were in attendance, and the issues facing them must be addressed in the setting provided by the SCASA ( South Carolina Association of School Administrators) “Leadership Conference.”
Rex finished off by pointing out that a significant portion of the state’s tourist revenue comes from Myrtle Beach, and that cancelling the “long-standing” SCASA conference would be detrimental to the tourism industry.
So taxpayers should pony up for district bureaucrats to take a sea-side vacation because they don’t want tourism revenues in Myrtle Beach to decline? Even in times of economic prosperity, people would balk at this kind of expense ( if they knew) in the name of “education.” How much more now, when teachers are being laid off, and parents are being warned that class sizes and their property tax bills could be increasing?
Some administrators chose not to attend, and to spare local parents the burden of paying for the trip. Others felt that attending was important enough for them to pay for the trip out-of-pocket. Tough times call for tough spending practices, and trips to Myrtle Beach don’t fit that description.
The Voice has never been shy about calling out “Dropout Jim” Rex for using taxpayer funds to reward and retain his loyal political consultant, Zeke Stokes (or f0r personal politicking)
In fact, after posting the numbers on how much Rex was paying his former campaign manager, questions from several news sources had Rex scrambling to show just how invaluable his consultant was in educating children in South Carolina.
Now, South Carolinians can see more of Rex’s financial dealings with his trusted consultant.
On Rex’s most recent Ethics Commission filing, the following shows up as a “contribution” from Zeke Stokes-
On the same filing, under “Expenditures,” Rex lists a payment to Zeke Stokes for $30.69 for “Printing 2010″-
That’s funny, it’s the same amount! Continue reading
According to a press release sent out by the SC Dept of Education, the SC Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (SCGSSM) has been named by Newsweek to be among the “Top Twenty Elite Public High Schools” in the nation. This is the fourth year in a row that the South Carolina public school has been on the prestigious list.
Every year, hundreds of high school sophomores apply to the school, but only 64 of the best and brightest students are accepted.
For two years, students at the SCGSSM study in a rigorous, academics-focused environment. Needless to say, graduates are well prepared to enter the best colleges and universities. Continue reading
While many school superintendents are in Myrtle Beach mingling and relaxing on the taxpayer dime, some officials are choosing not to indulge.
For years now, attendees at the annual South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA) “Leadership Conference” have been returning to their districts with large bills that the taxpayers’ are expected to pay. Now, watchdog groups are decrying these taxpayer-subsidized amenities as “wasteful” in light of the financial struggles many school districts are facing.
Teachers have lost their jobs because of money shortages, but some administrators manage to find enough to pay for their beachfront vacations.
Mike Lucas, Superintendent of Oconee County School District, has chosen not to attend the Myrtle Beach function. In The Daily Journal, Superintendent Lucas stated-
“No local administrators are participating at district expense at the conference. Anyone from the school district at the conference had to cover their own costs because of state funding cuts.”
Posted in SCHOOL WATCH
Tagged Budget Cuts, conference spending, Frank Morgan, Kingston Plantation, Leadership Conference, Myrtle Beach, Oconee County School District, SCASA, South Carolina Association of School Administrators, South Carolina public schools, Superintendent Mike Lucas, travel costs
For months now, Spartanburg taxpayers have been royally outraged at the deceit and mismanagement displayed by disgraced Spartanburg District 7 figurehead, Superintendent Thomas White.
Somehow sensing that diverting education- designated dollars to a country club during a recession was a guaranteed ticket to taxpayer outrage, Superintendent White tried to rectify the situation… by doing it in secret.
This from The Herald Journal-
“District leaders still act as if there was nothing wrong with their decision earlier this year to give $325,000 of taxpayers’ money to a private country club to which three board members and the superintendent belong. They act as if there was no problem in discussing this plan behind closed doors, adding it to their agenda at the last minute, and basically doing what they could to keep the deal hidden… It wants its constituents to believe that there was nothing wrong with the deal or the secrecy in which it was made, that only a few troublesome individuals questioned it.
It’s nonsense, and the people know it. District leaders continue to erode public trust and confidence as they try to twist the perception of this issue.”