Tag Archives: SCASA

Department of Education gives Consultants $391,469 Stimulus Package

Molly Spearman SCASA

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.

  • January-$296,526
  • February-$358,398
  • March-$366,996
  • April-$397,876
  • May-$333,791
  • June-$391,469
  • 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.

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SCASA Grabs for a Slice of Stimulus Pie

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SCASA Executive Director Molly Spearman eager for a taxpayer-subsidized bailout!

Everyone’s favorite taxpayer- subsidized, education bureaucracy cheering squad is suffering from a terminal case of greed.

The South Carolina Association of School Administrators ( SCASA), a slavering defender of anything done by South Carolina’s bloated education bureaucracy, has been recently exposed for its efforts to lay hands on $300,000 of federal “bailout” money.

How? Why? Last time The Voice checked, SCASA didn’t do anything except posture with people like this, and try to influence the legislature through publicly-funded lobbyists.

Yesterday FITSNews broke the story on this latest SCASA money grab -

According to documents filed with S.C. Supreme Court earlier this month, SCASA is requesting more than $150,000 worth of “cost reimbursement” for its legal fees – an amount which would be doubled under the “multiplier” recommended in a companion brief filed by USC law professor John P. Freeman.

The petition filed by SCASA argues that S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford acted “without substantial justification” in opposing a portion of the federal “bureaucratic bailout” funds allotted to South Carolina, and that the organization should be compensated for securing the money on behalf of all South Carolinians.”

What do these people do anyway? Certainly setting up expensive, beach retreats for bureaucrats during a recession, and excusing failures of the state’s public education system, are not sufficient reasons for struggling taxpayers to have to subsidize them through dues and the state health care plan.

Our state’s legislature needs to kick groups like SCASA away from the public trough, and make sure every tax dollar is being allocated to legitimate needs, or going back into the pockets of citizens.

Rex Says Administrative Travel Costs Are “Justified” (VIDEO)

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.

Some Districts Refrain from Lavish Conference Spending

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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.”

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South Carolina’s Jim Rex likes vacation, not tough questions

Jim Rex Beach Vacation South Carolina

Superintendent “Dropout Jim” Rex went down to the sunny shores of beautiful Myrtle Beach this week to enjoy some hard-earned taxpayer-financed pampering.

From the controversial SCASA summer retreat, Rex conducted his annual State of the School Address, an event that Jim and his publicists are trying desperately to make into a major media event.

That didn’t quite happen this year.

Even before the dramatic story of Governor Sanford’s trip to the Appalachian Trail Argentina crowded out other news events, Rex failed to secure any live broadcast television or radio coverage of the speech. Continue reading

Entitled Educrats hit the beach for Public-funded Pampering

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Classroom teachers struggle as “Educator” elites  indulge in a publicly-funded pampering.

This has been a rough year for classroom teachers in South Carolina’s public schools.

The 2008-09 school year began with over $11,480.00 in per student appropriations but teachers saw just pennies on those dollars. According the South Carolina’s Budget and Control Board, only 44 cents per public dollar was actually slated to reach the classroom in the form of “instructional spending.” The rest went for spending on items as varied as private golf course memberships to questionable out-of-state travel reimbursements for so-called Educational Leaders (or “Educrats“).

Then a downturn in tax revenue collections began to chip away at the state portion of that public school funding. Continue reading

Education Bureaucrats: YOUR money, OUR politics

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Q: Who is using public money and positions to fight parents calling for school choice?

A: Seven registered lobbyists and dozens of full-time staffers!

Real School Choice is wildly popular.

Parents in South Carolina know that every child is unique and the one-size-fits-all public schools are leaving thousands of students behind.

In recent weeks hundreds of parents have been advocating Choice at the statehouse; imploring lawmakers to consider expanding school choice options to K-12 education. Many who come to Columbia are surprised to see that high dollar lobbyists and publicists, paid with public money, are already working in the hallways of the Statehouse to fight the Choice legislation.

Even more offensive, some of these taxpayer subsidized politicos are claiming to speak for the parents and children in South Carolina.

Among those fighting to deny low- and middle-income children more equal access to independent school classrooms are the SCEA, SCASA, and SCSBA.

Here is a brief run down of each:

South Carolina Education Association (SCEA)

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The South Carolina affiliate of the far-left National Education Association (NEA) teacher union, the SCEA is infamous in the Palmetto State for using public money (in the form of teachers’ and bureaucrats’ dues) for direct cash “donations” to their favored politicians. Their pay-to-play style of politics also includes close relationships with high-dollar education contractors who profit from South Carolina’s stagnant and failing public schools. Continue reading

38% of Congress Chose Private Schools

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“My family has given up so much so that I could have the opportunity to serve; I didn’t want to try to save the country’s children and our educational system and jeopardize my own children’s education.” -Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education on choosing which schools his children would attend

According to The Washington Post, 38 percent of the members of Congress sent their own children to private school, and 20 percent attended private school themselves.

This is nearly twice the percentage of the general public that has attended private institutions, and some members of Congress seem eager to keep the disparity high.

Despite test results showing participants in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program reading half a grade above their peers in public school, many of the lawmakers whose children attended private schools are trying to kill the same options for the poorest families in D.C. Continue reading

Superintendents Should Forgo SCASA Junket

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On several occasions The Voice has publicized the heavy expenses incurred by school district superintendents who attend the annual taxpayer-subsidized South Carolina School Boards Association junket in Myrtle Beach.

Already, SCASA has begun encouraging members to register for the 2009 Summer Leadership Conference.

In theory, “SCASA Summer Conferences” may be a wonderful opportunity for district employees to gather and share best practices, but in reality it is a weekend of wining and dining in luxury accommodations, with the taxpayers back home picking up the bill. Continue reading

Unions Used Tax Dollars to Block Special Ed Scholarships

Last Monday, we explained how three heartless lawmakers ( Neilson, Kirsh and White) on a House education subcommittee killed a bill offering scholarships to special needs and disabled children in South Carolina public schools.

Similar to existing laws in Arizona, Utah, Georgia, Ohio, and Florida, HB 3101 would give parents a greater voice in the development of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for their special needs students. Many special needs children already attend private schools in South Carolina through their state-developed IEP, but HB 3101 would allow parents to help make that decision, rather than school employees and district bureaucrats.

Leading the fight to deny choice to parents was the South Carolina Education Association (SCEA). This taxpayer-financed public sector union has a colorful history of high dollar lobbying in South Carolina. Screen shots of their website and newsletter show how SCEA worked to rally members against HB 3101.

Comprised of public school teachers and school officials, the SCEA should be the nonpartisan voice of educational improvement and access for all children. But working with politicians and bureaucrats at the South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA) and the South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA), the SCEA aggressively uses taxpayer money and out-of-state special interest support to block all substantive reform to South Carolina’s worst-in-the-nation public school system. In 2005 alone, the SCEA took in over $125,000 from national teacher unions to fight against school choice.

How much are these public employees and officials willing to spend to defend the status quo?

A lot. Based on lobbying disclosure reports filled at the South Carolina Ethics Commission for 2005, 2006, and 2007 we can begin to see how SCSBA, SCASA and SCEA use taxpayer-financed membership dues to purchase political influence. In the case of the SCASA and SCSBA most members have their dues paid directly by the county of district that hires them! These numbers only represent money paid to lobbyists, not the additional money used for political action committees, maintaining websites, advertising, robocalls, email chains, and other attempts to manipulate public opinion.

School Boards Association
SCSBA: $176,811 in lobbying since 2005

Association of School Administrators
SCASA: $287,505 in lobbying since 2005

Education Association
SCEA: $50,000 in lobbying since 2005

Wasting a half million dollars in taxpayer money to politicize education reform and defend failing schools is shameful. Denying special needs children access to the best possible schools is heartless. These so-called “education” groups lack credibility. Their narrow concern with shielding a failing public school system shows how little regard they have for South Carolina’s children.