Last Monday, we explained how three heartless lawmakers ( Neilson, Kirsh and White) on a House education subcommittee killed a bill offering scholarships to special needs and disabled children in South Carolina public schools.
Similar to existing laws in Arizona, Utah, Georgia, Ohio, and Florida, HB 3101 would give parents a greater voice in the development of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for their special needs students. Many special needs children already attend private schools in South Carolina through their state-developed IEP, but HB 3101 would allow parents to help make that decision, rather than school employees and district bureaucrats.
Leading the fight to deny choice to parents was the South Carolina Education Association (SCEA). This taxpayer-financed public sector union has a colorful history of high dollar lobbying in South Carolina. Screen shots of their website and newsletter show how SCEA worked to rally members against HB 3101.
Comprised of public school teachers and school officials, the SCEA should be the nonpartisan voice of educational improvement and access for all children. But working with politicians and bureaucrats at the South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA) and the South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA), the SCEA aggressively uses taxpayer money and out-of-state special interest support to block all substantive reform to South Carolina’s worst-in-the-nation public school system. In 2005 alone, the SCEA took in over $125,000 from national teacher unions to fight against school choice.
How much are these public employees and officials willing to spend to defend the status quo?
A lot. Based on lobbying disclosure reports filled at the South Carolina Ethics Commission for 2005, 2006, and 2007 we can begin to see how SCSBA, SCASA and SCEA use taxpayer-financed membership dues to purchase political influence. In the case of the SCASA and SCSBA most members have their dues paid directly by the county of district that hires them! These numbers only represent money paid to lobbyists, not the additional money used for political action committees, maintaining websites, advertising, robocalls, email chains, and other attempts to manipulate public opinion.
School Boards Association
SCSBA: $176,811 in lobbying since 2005
Association of School Administrators
SCASA: $287,505 in lobbying since 2005
SCEA: $50,000 in lobbying since 2005
Wasting a half million dollars in taxpayer money to politicize education reform and defend failing schools is shameful. Denying special needs children access to the best possible schools is heartless. These so-called “education” groups lack credibility. Their narrow concern with shielding a failing public school system shows how little regard they have for South Carolina’s children.