Jim “Fixed Rate” Rex has a great new plan to lure and retain public school teachers: taxpayer subsides for teachers buying homes.
Rex, working with bureaucrats in the State Department of Education and the SC Housing Authority, wants to artificially reduce down payments and lock-in rates below those commercially available to regular consumers. In fact, the rates are sub-prime. He hopes that making homes seem cheaper for teachers will encourage them to continue working in public schools.
Not only will this overtly political plan cost taxpayer’s millions (at a time when many are themselves losing their homes) it will not work to improve teacher retention.
But Rex specializes in spin, not substantive reform. Rather than streamlining the enormous district and departmental waste (which shaves off 54 cents of every educational dollar) he is showboating. Consolidating districts and trimming the bloated administrative staff in Columbia would allow for more of the $11,480 in appropriated per-pupil funding to reach classrooms in the form of teacher salaries.
Another policy that is proven to correlate with higher teacher salaries is school choice. That’s because the funding system behind public schools (with allocations from local, state, and federal governments) leaves more money for public schools when students transfer out. Public schools then use the money to raise teacher salaries in an effort to hire and retain competitive teachers.
While subsidized loans make for a great press release, this will do nothing for South Carolina’s children. They will not address the 47 percent high school graduation rate or the 49th place SAT scores. Only a substantive reform of the entire educational system which empowers parents with choices can do that.