Bureaucrats bask in media attention
No one wants hard working South Carolina teachers to lose their jobs. Maintaining an adequate number of effective teachers should be priority for school districts during a time of financial uncertainty.
While many administrators and bureaucrats pay constant lip service to this principle, actions on the part of some public school districts show a readiness to put teachers on the chopping block to gain ground in wringing more money out of drained state coffers.
Unfortunately, Midlands’ parents eager to look into the reality of school funding will be disappointed again by The State, whose reporting is transparently unwilling to dig deeper than the deceptive sound bytes of district spokespeople.
Lexington/ Richland 5:
Lex/Rich 5 has blazed new trails in exploiting financial turmoil to its own advantage. Even after a seemingly unending string of administrative scandals and misrepresentations, the district was somehow able to push through a bond referendum to finance the construction of new schools to accommodate a “growing” student population. In recent weeks, the district has announced the firing of 70 teachers as a result of not receiving federal stimulus funds, and hinted that these might not be the last.
How Lex/Rich 5 is pulling a fast one:
As The Voice previously reported, Lex/Rich 5’s own year-end report points to current cuts in staff being the result of a ten year hiring binge, not because of budget cuts and the lack of stimulus money. From 1999 to 2008, the number of teaching staff increased by 57%, while the student population increased by only 16%! After a district bond referendum was foisted off on trusting taxpayers, demographic information was released stating that school populations in the district were not expected to increase in the next few years. So much for desperately needed new schools. Teachers and taxpayers are getting short changed so bureaucrats can play at being victims. Lex/Rich 5 has jumped at the chance to blame its decade-long pattern of mismanagement and misrepresentation on something else, and is not above using teachers that are casualties of the district’s own shady dealings to do so. Continue reading
Posted in POLICY
Tagged Budget Cuts, Cost Efficiency, Frank Morgan, Funding, Herbert Berg, Jim Rex, Kershaw County, Lexington One, Lexington/Richland 5, spin, The State
“Their efforts are meant to starve our schools, destroy our communities and cripple our profession, and they must be stopped.”
-South Carolina Education Association on Senator Robert Ford
More and more families in South Carolina are becoming aware of just how much political influence is wielded by public education establishment “support” groups.
Organizations like SC Association of School Administrators, SC School Boards Association, Palmetto State Teachers Association, and SC Education Association employ a small army of lobbyists and political insiders to maintain power and money in the centralized education bureaucracy, and to do the bidding of powerful national unions in South Carolina.
The SC Education Association (SCEA)-as local minions for the far-left NEA- personify the politicization of education here in South Carolina. In addition to acting as an enthusiastic cheering section for the wide-scale failures of one of the nation’s most consistently underperforming public education systems, the SCEA stands ready to attack anyone who feels like children in South Carolina deserve something better. Continue reading
Taxpayer-funded “publicists” at the SC Department of Education like to use “awards” as a measure of public school “success.”
In the first four months of 2009, there were 20 press releases issued by the department that included the term “award” in the title or first sentence.
The problem is that many awards and accolades are not actually tied to student achievement, and some seem designed to distract from a school’s performance failures by improving parents’ perceptions of the school.
Here are two recent examples:
Allendale Elementary School
In March, Allendale Elementary School was awarded “a gold certificate and banner by USDA Food and Nutrition Service Southeast Regional Administrator Donald E. Arnette for meeting USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge“
“The HealthierUS School Gold award is one of the highest honors a school nutrition program can achieve and reflects a strong commitment to provide students with additional healthy food options throughout the school campus, and to emphasize nutrition education and physical activity in the school curriculum.”
Allendale Elementary is classified by the State and Federal governments as a “persistently failing school” and has again been identified this school year as “at-risk.” There are 569 students forced to attend this failing public school. Continue reading
What do all these things have in common? They are all myths.
Tax credits won’t help families. Scholarships won’t help families. Public schools will be cast aside and underfunded. Private schools will quickly become quasi-government institutions.
This is what The Spartanburg Herald Journal predicts will happen if South Carolina lawmakers adopt the SC Education Opportunity Act. The only disasters left out of the Spartanburg paper’s apocalyptic, post-school choice scenario are outright Communist invasion and the Thunderdome.
A quick glance at the thriving school choice programs in other states show these panicked speculations to be just as ludicrous as they sound.
Let’s consider a few of the Herald-Journal’s claims: Continue reading
South Carolina’s favorite anti-School Choice zealot, Superintendent Thomas White of Spartanburg District 7, is back with more of his “zany” taxpayer-funded antics.
Among other recent White highlights endured by the scandal-weary parents and taxpayers in Spartanburg:
Superintendent White publicly argued for “honkering down and protecting the classroom” and “accepting responsibility” as parents demanded his “immediate resignation” for White’s allocation of $200,000 in school money to a private golf club he is a member of.
Superintendent White and his lawyers defended themselves against accusations that the golf course payout was illegal by insisting parent and taxpayers’ opinions do not make his decisions “right, wrong or indifferent.”
Superintendent responded to concerns about the three persistently failing schools in his district by insisting that choices about the education ought to be in the hands of education bureaucrats rather than parents.
Superintendent White used his new high-dollar district logo to advertise grassroots Astroturf meetings about public school choice limited public school transfers.
Posted in POLICY
Tagged Cost Efficiency, News and Views, Public Transfer, Spartanburg 7, Spartanburg 7 Golf Course, Spartanburg District 7, Spartanburg Herald Journal, Spartanburg Public S, spin, Superint, Superintendent Thomas White, Superintendent White, Thomas White
The Times and Democrat newspaper in Orangeburg, South Carolina has published a poignant guest editorial responding to the bitter personal attacks by bureaucrat publicist Jim Foster of the State Department of Education:
Education back-and-forth misses point (link)
Regular readers of The Times and Democrat have, in recent weeks, witnessed a prolonged and abstract back-and-forth on the opinion page about public education in South Carolina.
Lost in the “he said, she said” of guest editorials, opposition editorials and letters to the editor is the real heart of the matter: the children. The facts are tragically simple: If a child is from a poor or black family, he or she is now further behind wealthy or white classroom peers than two years ago when Superintendent Jim Rex took office.
Similarly, if a child is from a wealthy family with highly educated parents, he or she is now further behind out-of-state peers than two years ago. All the major indicators — SAT, ACT, PACT, and End of Course Tests — are telling the same sad story of inequality and failure.
As public school performance plummets, spokesman Jim Foster and other handsomely paid non-teaching officials at the State Department of Education and district offices across South Carolina are seeking validation. Awkwardly, they find themselves defending teacher salary cuts and reductions in classroom supplies while consultants, contractors and bureaucrats continue to siphon away the lion’s share of taxpayer spending on public schools. Continue reading
Posted in POLICY
Tagged Achievement Gap, Educational Effectiveness, Inequality, Jim Foster, Jim Rex, Neil Mellen, Race Gaps, spin, Times and Democrat, Wealth Gaps, What "The Voice" is All About
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
Thomas White, Superintendent of Spartanburg School District 7 is a self-described ambassador of South Carolina’s public school system.
As an outspoken member of the Association of School Administrators (SCASA), Thomas White has used public money to fight against efforts to reform public schools in South Carolina. Continue reading