Jim Rex, Superintendent of Education, oversees more than $7.4 billion in taxpayer spending by public schools across South Carolina. His policies and leadership touch the lives of 700,000 public school students everyday. Perhaps more than any other public policy, the strength of his K-12 education system will determine the social and economic success of our state in future decades.
But Jim is failing. The 47 percent high school graduation rate, the 49th place SAT scores, the growing performance gaps between black and white children, the declining PACT scores, his lowered standards, and the massive administrative waste all speak of a total system wide failure.
Jim’s response? Pick at low-lying political fruit.
Arguing for a controversial and speculative program that “encourages students to read while riding spinner bikes in the gym” represents a new peak of political risk-taking and thoughtful policy insight. No doubt Jim’s dedicated brain-trust of taxpayer-fiananced consultants and career administrators (ten of whom make more than $100,000 per year) spent weeks debating the merits of this complex instructional vision.
Too bad Jim is unwilling to take a strong position on another imporrant topic: effective and equitable schooling options for all children in South Carolina.