Tag Archives: Spartanburg

Superintendent Thomas White Still Thinks He Is Right

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.”

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Spartanburg HJ Editors wrong on Schools

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The Spartanburg based Herald Journal has a poor editorial and reporting track record on School Choice.

While parents from their readership area have written to the SHJ arguing for Choice, and driven to Columbia to personally pressure lawmakers for Choice, the paper continues to mis-repesent the details of Choice legislation, and the strength of its support.

Interestingly, the SHJ writers do recognize the existence of deep systemic flaws in Spartanburg public school governance.

These include wasteful spending, arrogance on the part of Superintendents, shady political posturing by public educators, and manipulation of SAT test score results.

Still, the paper has not been willing to push for specific reforms that will improve the situation. Chief among this would be School Choice. Continue reading

Parents and papers push for School Choice in SC

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Across South Carolina the message of empowered parents and student-specific instruction is spreading.

Hundreds recently packed three separate rooms at a Senate hearing in Columbia, demanding that lawmakers move beyond political rhetoric and adopt real policies of School Choice. Policy experts, private school educators, and parents have come together to rally for a system of educational tax credits that fosters parental engagement, reduces student achievement disparities and saves money.

In addition to the grass roots advocacy and personal testimonies, many dedicated to School Choice are now making the case on opinion pages of newspapers across the state of South Carolina. Here are a four recent examples…

On Sunday April 26th, the Charleston Post and Courier editorialized “Give school tax credits a try:”

Expanding school choice expands educational opportunities. So why limit school choice to the public education system?

The obvious answer: politics. The education establishment remains a powerful force influencing state legislatures — and Congress. It also remains steadfastly opposed to helping even small numbers of poor children transfer to private schools from public schools that are shortchanging them.

Against that familiar backdrop, an S.C. Senate education subcommittee held a hearing at the Statehouse Thursday to consider arguments for and against proposed legislation that would provide tax credits and scholarships for low-income and special-needs children to transfer from struggling public schools to private schools [more].

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Spartanburg 7 Slaps Parents in the Face…Again

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Political Spin and AstroTurfing – paid for by you!

Spartanburg School District 7 is rapidly gaining in notoriety around the state. Unfortunately all the attention has been gained by unethical and unwise practices by the District 7 School Board, and by the monumental arrogance and ineptitude of Superintendent Thomas White.

Previous to the uproar over “Golf Gate,” White has taken every opportunity afforded by his position as a district employee to sanctimoniously tell parents that he knows what is best for families in Spartanburg County.

His favorite means of doing this? Telling parents that he has already provided every option that they could ever need for educating their child, so they should not be allowed to have any others.

Basically, it doesn’t matter how badly White and the board mismanage tax dollars, or how far short they fall of high academic performance in District 7, the district bureaucrats still fundamentally don’t believe parents could pick something better for themselves. 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

Spartanburg Parents want choice, superintendent doesn’t

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Parents in South Carolina want to have a say in where their children attend school, and some state employees who oppose the idea are scrambling to convince parents not to push for more options.

Spartanburg County has many public schools that outperform their counterparts in the state, but SAT scores show that achievement is still far behind similar districts in North Carolina. While many Spartanburg families are pleased with what local public schools have to offer, others prefer a private or Christian education for their children.

In a recent article in the Spartanburg Herald Journal, Spartanburg parent Brantlee Fulmer voiced her own concerns about where her three year old will attend school:

“ As a parent, I may or may not agree with the direction that a particular public school would go in…from a personal perspective, I prefer more of a Christian education. So, when the time comes I may choose to send my child to a Christian school.” Continue reading

Spartanburg: the high cost of “free” information

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Actually, no.
If you want to know how your taxes are spent you will have to pay.

In recent weeks The Voice has emphasized the need for transparency in school district spending by highlighting excessive and thoughtless spending by key school district administrators.

Without mechanisms like online check registries, taxpayers have little opportunity to see exactly how districts spend their money. Even under the Freedom of Information Act, interested parties may find that “free” information can be quite expensive.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) responses from the seven school districts in Spartanburg County show just how inaccessible district spending information is to concerned members of the community. Continue reading

Wealthy white kids furthest behind in Upstate

Great new news story in the Greenville Journal, courtesy of FITS News (link) about the “relativity” of student achievement in South Carolina.

As we have explained, the “best” schools in South Carolina make parents and politicians proud because they compare well with failing schools in the Corridor of Shame.

But in absolute terms, these “good” schools in Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Anderson, Spartanburg, and Greenville are way behind where they need to be.

That’s most obvious when you compare the kids in these schools to similar kids in other states, students whose family income, parental education, and standard of living make them an apples-to-apples comparison.

When we look at these numbers, we see kids in South Carolina are not competitive, even with our immediate neighbors in Georgia and North Carolina. In fact, SAT scores at the best South Carolina districts averaged more than 200 points behind the best districts in North Carolina.

Now Anna Mitchell of the Greenville Journal has looked even deeper, also considering the types of classes that students are taking. She wanted to know if the upper middle class students in the Upstate and other similar districts were as successful as many parents assume.

They are not. She explains:

..In other words, white students, well-to-do students, students taking calculus and students whose parents have graduate degrees all scored among the lowest in their subcategories compared to their counterparts in other states.

Mitchell’s story is well-researched and quite through; let’s hope the Journal posts it online in full!

Media Spinfest in Spartanburg

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2 in 3 public school 8th graders students can’t read or write at grade level, but the Herald Journal doesn’t seem to mind!

(maybe they are switching to a cartoon only format)

Despite all the taxpayer financed spin, the scores from this year’s PACT test were awful.

Students in South Carolina’s public schools are actually doing worse now than just a few years ago.

In fact, since 2005, scores are down in 3 of the 4 tested subjects.

Percentage of 8th grade students scoring at or above grade level:

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That’s right, 4 in 5 public school 8th grade students are “non-proficent” in math! And more than 2 in 3 are “non-proficent” in reading and writing! Continue reading

SAT: But OUR schools did well, right?!

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Success” is relative for York, Anderson, Lexington and Spartanburg.

As reported, release of the SAT scores once again brings bad news for public schools in South Carolina. Average scores are down and gaps between race and income groups continue to widen.

Some parents and lawmakers aren’t concerned, They argue that their public schools in the Upstate and Midlands are bucking the state trend, and earning scores above the national average.

But according to the Department of Education, only seven of eighty five school districts earned average scores above the national average of 1017 points. These are:

YORK 4 – FORT MILL (1,053)
ANDERSON 2 (1,051)
ANDERSON 4 (1,050)
LEXINGTON 1 (1,046)
ANDERSON 1 (1,044)
LEXINGTON/RICHLAND 5 (1,040)
SPARTANBURG 1 (1,038)
ANDERSON 5 (1,019)

That’s great news for white upper middle class parents in York, Anderson, Lexington and Spartanburg, right?

No, actually its not. Continue reading