Tag Archives: minimally adequate

Legislative and EduNews Update

Spending Flexibility for Districts

Wes Wolfe reports that a bill for greater local autonomy for public school spending is was stuck in the House.
The State Newspaper pundits have editorialized in favor of quick passage of the bill.

Essentially, they want to be able to do what we keep demanding that all of government do but that several state laws prohibit schools from doing — fund the very most essential programs, in the most efficient way possible, and do away with anything that can be done away with.

This would make sense even if its only benefit were to keep teachers in the classrooms. But that’s not the only benefit: It gives schools an opportunity to demonstrate what they would do — under the most extreme of circumstances — if they were freed permanently from some of the mandates. If they handle this freedom responsibly, then there will be no excuse for not granting them permanent flexibility. If they do not, we’ll have some idea of what type of flexibility is warranted, and what isn’t. This experiment might even point us to additional flexibility measures no one had considered.

Wednesday morning the bill still looked like it might stall, as some advocates are arguing with other lawmakers (who claimed to support the bill but) who had begun to load the bill down with specific carve-outs and mandates in the form of amendments. But by midday the bill had finally left the house.

Minimally Adequate Political Ploy

Despite $360 million in state budget cuts for K-12 education threatening classroom teacher jobs, the rank-and-file public school teachers are still being manipulated by administrators, bureaucrats, consultants, politicians, unions and other special interests who profit like parasites from public spending on K-12 education. Continue reading

Jim Rex: not even minimally adequate

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Jim Rex was elected in late 2006 on a promise to reinvent South Carolina public schools. His “together we can” mantra invited great optimism among teachers and parents, despite the fact that his election victory was the result of a plurality, not a majority.

Two years later Rex’s promises remain unfulfilled and conditions at our public schools have deteriorated.

Since 2006, the differences between black and white children’s test scores in math and English have worsened. Statewide, daily attendance at school and the number of on-time graduations have crept down. Average SAT scores have dropped for all student types and the gaps between scores of white and black students have grown. The white/black SAT participation rate has also widened. Scores for high school End-Of-Course exams have sunk in both math and science. Even the “best” public schools in South Carolina are in a slump: in 2006 the average SAT score in York District 4 was 107 behind scores at public schools in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In 2008 the York 4 students had fallen 126 behind their North Carolina peers. Continue reading

Senator Vincent Sheheen talks about School Choice

State Senator Vincent A. Sheheen (D-Chesterfield, Kershaw & Lancaster) talks about public schools public education in South Carolina.

Learn more about public school funding in your district, South Carolina’s alarming graduation rate, persistently low SAT scores, the growing Achievement Gap in South Carolina, and the use of HOPE, LIFE and Palmetto Fellows scholarships at private colleges.

Also read about school choice’s benefits in terms of parental rights, student achievement and cost savings; even, how school choice will help public schools.

K12 News and Policy Roundup

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With the start of South Carolina’s legislative session looming, journalists across the state are focusing on K-12 education. That’s because spending on public education (averaging $11,480 per student last year) is the largest single item in the state’s budget. “Public Education” (often confused with the narrower concept of “public schools”) is also a big concern for parents, businessmen and community leaders, all of whom are concerned with inequity and under-performance in South Carolina’s public schools. Among the themes recently reported on:

BUDGET WOES: The already tense debate over budget balancing and spending efficiency is becoming more contentious. The State Newspaper recounted a war of words between State Superintendent Jim Rex and fellow Democrat Representative Harry Ott. Rex wanted a salary freeze for teachers and bus mechanics, Ott wondered why Rex was not willing to cut his own staff before slowing pay adjustments for classroom teachers.

JUDICIAL ACTIVISM: Orangeburg Times and Democrat critically examined the ongoing debate over a bill (and possible constitutional amendment) pushing for a re-write of state educational mandates. The Spartanburg Herald Journal sternly editorialized against the proposal. Continue reading

Pre-Filed K-12 Education Bills (Senate)

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We’ve already looked at the pre-filed K-12 bills in the House, now here is an overview of legislation in the South Carolina Senate:

# S. 99, constitutional amendment; introduction of the so-called “high quality” language into the State Constitution. It calls for a re-write of the State Constitution’s mandates on public education. Authors have suggested that cutting and pasting a few words into the SC Constitution will radically improve the $11,480 per student schools. In actuality, this will do nothing more than invite another expensive and fruitless series of lawsuits, reminiscent of the fruitless 10-year “Corridor of Shame” trials. More details about this controversial proposal here. Sponsor: Matthews (D-Orangeburg).

# S. 129, constitutional amendment – eliminating Commissioner of Agriculture, Adjutant General and Superintendent of Education as elected. The intention is to streamline state government and depoliticize responsibilities for administering government services. Sponsor: Sheheen (D-Kershaw) Continue reading

A “minimally adequate” political ploy

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Push for “high quality education” language in State Constitution is a scam.

South Carolina’s public schools are in shambles. Despite per-student spending of $11,480 per child, only a paltry 45 cents per dollar actually reaches children in the classroom.

Financial excess, mismanagement and waste are just the tip of the iceberg.

South Carolina public schools have the nation’s worst drop-out rate and some of the widest (and fastest growing) race and income gaps.

Even the so-called “best” public schools serving wealthy students are distantly behind their out-of-state peers.

Despite the dire situation, anti-school choice bureaucrats are committed to spending public money to fight against the wishes of parents who want change. Continue reading

Journalists frustrated with public school failures

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Across South Carolina, newspaper editors and reporters are voicing their frustration with the sustained failure of SC public schools. Here are a few recent highlights:

PACT with excuses for sad test scores” by Andrew Dys of the Rock Hill Herald.

…Certainly, when the old [PACT] test was a failure, the best recourse is to change the test. The old name had to go, too. The Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test, the old bugaboo that told us every year our kids weren’t doing as well as they should, was clearly at fault.

Not the schools. Not you. Not me.

PACT was sent packing along with all those bad scores. If you change the name and the test, nobody will ever remember all the times the scores tanked, right? Continue reading

Watchdog for the Taxpayers chimes in on “Minimally Adequate”

In a recent post on his Watchdog for the Taxpayers blog, Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom rightly questions whether a constitutional amendment mandating a “high quality education” is the most necessary step toward reforming public education in South Carolina.

Hopefully more of our elected officials will follow General Eckstrom’s example and champion substantive measures of improving education in South Carolina.

Constitutional Amendment: A Trojan Horse?

by Richard Eckstrom

The solution for South Carolina’s low SAT test scores and its high dropout rates has been much debated. Now a well-meaning group of citizens are suggesting that our state constitution might be holding us back. That constitution mandates a “minimally adequate” education for all students.

There are those who believe that if we change our constitutional mandate for education, our education problems will be solved. Accordingly, an effort is underway to amend our constitution to replace its current mandate for “minimally adequate” to “high quality education, allowing each student to reach his highest potential.”

Who among us could oppose such a noble intent? Certainly, all of us want every student to reach his or her highest potential. And South Carolina for many years has backed up its commitment to its youth with educational spending that places us among the most generous states, particularly as a percentage of per capita income.

Our education leaders often remind us that South Carolina’s education standards are among the highest in the nation. Thus, one might wonder why the wording of a centuries old constitution should matter. If our constitution has not prevented us from establishing some of the highest standards in the nation, it certainly would not prevent us from meeting those same standards.

Those behind this effort to change our state constitution know that if they can change the wording of the constitution, they can circumvent our State Legislature and file suit, as they have done in 45 other states, to get our State Court System to mandate large increases in education spending. In effect, this approach would mandate large increases in taxes as well.

The educational establishment is right in setting high standards for student performance. But reasonable people would be justified in asking whether that establishment has made “minimally adequate” use of the generous resources already provided by the taxpayers of our state.

When we require that our education system focus our education tax dollars on teachers in the classrooms, instead of on large administrative bureaucracies, we then will truly begin to offer a high quality education where each student will be allowed to reach his or her highest potential.

Click here to comment on Watchdog for the Taxpayers.

Bureaucratic Blame Shifter In Chief Continues to Grandstand


Once again Jim Rex and Co. are trying to pass the buck for decades of public school failure on to people who died a hundred years ago.

According to this article from The Charleston Post and Courier, the failed education establishment is trying to drum up support for a wording change in the state constitution. Rather than deal with the host of real problems that are further wrecking SC public schools, education “leaders” want to quibble about editing the document to interpret South Carolina’s educational standard as “high quality” rather than “minimally adequate.”

In a burst of editorial fervor, P&C reporter Diette Courrege writes of the issue,

“It’s a debate about the state’s education system and whether the Legislature is providing enough money for it. It’s a discussion about the priority that South Carolinians are willing to put on education and back it up with their tax dollars.”

Unfortunately this statement is completely ungrounded in reality. Continue reading