Tag Archives: Special Interests

Politicians don’t really work for the people

South Carolina Political Puppets

A guest editorial by Mrs. Hollie Bennett, a parent, published in the Sun News (5/23):

Political issues are bought and sold in every level of government. There is no longer true representation of the people. The primary objective of every politician is re-election. Contributions to campaigns are mere purchases for favorable votes on issues of importance to the contributor and money for a politician’s re-election; a win-win situation for the contributor and the politician.

This became overwhelmingly evident to me at the hearing held in Columbia on the issue of real school choice. The 200-plus people who turned out for this hearing were overwhelmingly in support of real school choice, not this silliness of public school choice that Jim Rex is behind. (Does anyone really believe that a school district will convene a committee that will investigate school choice options that would in any way be meaningful? Please.) Continue reading

Good Mileage More Important to Congress than Children

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Members of Congress ( 38% of which chose to send their own children to private school) sent a cutting message about governmental priorities to parents this week. Ignoring the large crowd of parents and children begging them to preserve the Washington, D.C. school choice program, politicians brushed them aside to do what they felt was best for their own political careers: say “how high?” when unions said “jump!”

Adding insult to a real injury for low-income families, the US Senate approved a “Cash for Clunkers” bill the same day that would hand out $4,500 vouchers to people who trade in their old cars for a newer, more fuel efficient machines.

The cruel irony of the Senate’s actions will not be lost on the families forced to send their children back to dangerous, failing public schools. Apparently, many of the same elected officials who believe financial incentives are evil and destructive when they are given to low-income students who need an education, are happy to pass out benefits to people who can afford to buy new vehicles.

Actions speak louder than the empty words uttered on the campaign trail, and the actions of U.S. Senators say that they think good mileage is more important than childrens’ education. 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

Jim Foster, Leave your personal politics at home

Matt Moore (S.C. Club for Growth) wrote this great opinion letter for the Times and Democrat:

Jim Foster, the chief publicist for South Carolina’s Education Department, recently attacked a non-profit group advocating education spending and enrollment reform. His letter in the Times and Democrat on Feb. 5 characterized those arguing for a more responsive and parent- centered education system as “extremists” and “zealots.”

The heart of Foster’s quarrel with school reform advocates is a disagreement over facts and figures. The State Department of Education releases its own numbers for public school allocation, spending and efficiency. These self-reported figures are — year after year — in stark contrast to similar numbers published in the State Budget and to the data released by the South Carolina Budget and Control Board. For example, Foster claims 71 cents per dollar is spent on “instruction” in public schools, while S.C. Budget and Control Board auditors report only 45 cents reaches the classroom.

As a state employee, Foster enjoys benefits that most workers in the private sector can only envy. These include robust job security, a generous pension, comprehensive health care and annual cost-of-living wage adjustments. But while working as a public employee, and being paid with tax dollars, Foster has violated certain responsibilities.

Chief among these: political non-partisanship. Continue reading

SC Schools still a cash cow for consultants

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In December of 2008, the State Department of Education was well aware that budget cuts would be affecting public schools across the state. Teachers and other district employees feared for their jobs, while bean counters worried that money might be too tight to even put fuel in school buses.

Even during this time of uncertainty and restricted funding, consultants were confident that fat government contracts would keep rolling in.
According to the State Comptroller General’s “Spending Transparency” site, the SC Department of Education paid out-

•    $130,500 to Insite, LLC: a “highly accomplished woman-owned assessment company, providing test development, training, and data-collection services.”
•    $211,850 to TAPFIN Process Solutions: “With a focus on human capital management, TAPFIN deploys successful solutions delivered with our commitment to people, process and technology.
•    $17,732 to Educational Resources Group: “ERG is your best resource for consultants who provide professional development services to teachers, administrators, and classroom support personnel.”
•    $37,200 to South Carolina Association of School Administrators: tax funded lobbyists
•    $15,000 to Education Builders
•    $14,695 to The Assignment Agency
•    $11,755.52 to Malachied Inc. Continue reading

School Boards anxious about School Choice (VIDEO)

This following clip is from a 2006 meeting of the SC House Ways and Means Committee.

Despite claims by the SC School Boards Association that school choice would take money from public schools, Representative Lewis Vaughn (ret.) points out that choice would actually increase per-student funding.

Two years later, SCSBA is still committed to fighting school choice.

Thomas White is Smarter than You

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In a recent opinion column, Superintendent Thomas White of Spartanburg District 7 made his position very clear: he is very smart and deserves to make choices about where his children attend school. You on the other hand, the parents and taxpayers of South Carolina, aren’t as bright and don’t deserve the same for your family.

Nevermind that White is a public servant, chosen by democratically elected officials.

Nevermind that White puts bread on his table through a government salary, financed by your hard earned tax-dollars.

And nevermind that as a public school administrator White’s job is merely to implement and orchestrate public policies, not to use his public position to advocate or author them.

No, White is still smug enough to waste ink on the pages of the Spartanburg Herald Journal belittling the grassroots advocacy of low- and middle-income families who want to enjoy the same privileges that wealthy families already have: equal access to a wide range of effective classrooms for their children. Continue reading

Rock Hill: Public Money for School Politics

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From a reader:

“…the email below was forwarded to me after being sent to every employee in Rock Hill (SC) School District 3. It was written by a board member and emailed by the district spokeswoman. I believe this may be a misuse of state resources not to mention factually incorrect.”

“Walter Brown, coordinator of advocacy efforts on the Board of Trustees, would like to share the following information with all employees:

“In an article published yesterday in The Herald (1/4) titled “Q&A With the Governor,” Mark Sanford outlines his agenda for his final two years in office. If you have not read it, you may want to locate it. Continue reading

Sumter Snakeoil Salesmen Ascend Administrators Association

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The embattled educrats who forced through an unneeded $3.5 million administrators building in Sumter are now in charge of SCASA.

The non-teaching bureaucrats “educators” at the SC Association of School Administrators (SCASA) are the pride of our public schools.

While lawmakers appropriate over $11,480 per child to each student in the state, these dedicated school administrators ensure that only 44 cents per dollar reaches the classroom.

Thanks to the “professional educators” in administrative jobs, the other 54 cents goes to “non-instructional spending.” This includes state and local political campaigning, hiding awkward student performance failures, promoting subsidized mortgages, using taxpayer financed personal cell-phone calls, giving meaningless awards to failing schools, directly lobbying lawmakers for even more money, profiteering from the PACT debate, lying about government allocations, staying in four-star hotels, and otherwise enjoying the comfort and security of a no-expectations government job.

The fact that just 44 cents reaches the kids might account for South Carolina’s 158 drop outs per day problem, but the award winning public school PR departments don’t care.

Now we hear that SCASA is choosing the best of the brightest of these “educators” for leadership positions!

Yes, the same Sumter Edu-crats who presided over the construction of a controversial $3.5 administration building (despite the looming consolidation of the district, and an excess of existing office space) are now in top leadership positions at SCASA.

From the pages of the Sumter Item:

“Sumter School District 17 is taking the South Carolina Association of School Administrators by storm. Recently, SCASA announced that three of the school district’s top district-level administrators are presidents-elect for the divisions in the organization of which they are members.”

These same district bureaucrats insisted they must build immediately because the terms of their (now illegal) financing required it. Former school board members and community leaders asked a judge to force the district to halt the project (since the Educrats wouldn’t listen) which he did.

It is hardly shocking that the SCASA membership has chosen the “Stars of Sumter 17″ as their new leadership. Their total disregard for educational effectiveness, taxpayer dollars, and public opinion has earned them this distinction. If these are the skills it takes to be recognized in the SC Public Education Establishment, it should be no surprise if South Carolina retains its worst-in-the-nation status for the next fifty years.

The Hypocrisy of Bill Sandifer

“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.”- Andre Gide

Last week The Voice for School Choice brought you an exclusive uncovering of Representative Dan Cooper’s out of state special interest gluttony. Cooper is a particularly noticeable example of an elected official lapping up out of state corporate special interest money, but certainly not the only one.

One of the legislators known to cry the loudest about the evil influence of out of state money is Oconee representative Bill Sandifer. During the most recent primary elections, Sandifer never equivocated on his feelings about candidates who take “special interest” contributions to fund their campaigns. In a May article published by The Daily Journal, Sandifer indicates that out of state money going to a candidate would cause him to suspect that, if elected, the candidate would simply be a pawn of his donors. Sandifer clearly sees himself as separate from this kind of suspect behavior. Continue reading