Rex and bureaucrats pressured to offer so-called “choices”

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The spin-masters at South Carolina’s State Department of Education are busy using their 54 cents per dollar of education spending on another vain attempt to disguise the wide spread failure of public schools in the Palmetto State.

As reported by the Associated Press and the Charleston Post and Courier, Politician Jim Rex is proud of his recent attempt to silence middle class voters with more faux-choices.

This time, he is talking about single gender classes. From the P&C story:

…”[support for single gender classes] verifies that parents have not just overwhelmingly responded to this option in the public schools … but that at least the initial experience for parents, students and teachers has been overwhelmingly positive,” said state Schools Superintendent Jim Rex.

Rex framed the results as an illustration of the potential results when parents are given a choice within the public school system, which is accountable and accessible, he said. He plans to further study students’ test scores in upcoming months to see whether single-gender classes have a positive effect on achievement. Preliminary scores show that they do…

But wait! If politicians and administrators in the public education establishment have come to recognize that parents expect and deserve a diverse range of instructional settings and methodologies that is a first step in the right direction. However, by design, a command and control style state department of education, staffed by bureaucrats in Columbia, will never be able to provide the wide and responsive range of educational services that families in South Carolina need and deserve.

If public school officials and lawmakers are conceding that variety and competition (in the form of single gender, Montessori, classical instruction, arts specialization, etc…) are both beneficial and highly desired, then the natural next step is to provide parents with a student based funding system that allows them to send their children to the school (public, private, charter, magnet or home) that they select.

The fact is, Jim Rex can’t have it both ways. When parents realize that education is a public good and that a state monopoly on instruction can’t provide the innovation and accountability that will make South Carolina competitive, they will look to real school choice as the obvious solution.

For more perspective on the questionable motives of this so-called “choice” program check out the Charleston City Paper‘s “Sterotyping for Education’s Sake” by Greg Hambrick

…But, after hearing Bragg’s [single gender] pitch, I was a little troubled by the generalizations assumed in launching these all-boys and all-girls classrooms. Things like “boys like non-fiction and girls like fiction.” Boys respond to a teacher who moves through the classroom, while girls like direct instruction. It all turned my stomach, being one of those students who often stood in the margins beyond what most boys liked. Who am I to argue with success, but this across-the-board instruction style would seem to me to leave some students in the gap…

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3 responses to “Rex and bureaucrats pressured to offer so-called “choices”

  1. GrandOldPartyMom

    I really like Rex’s “accountable and accessible” comment. If ANYONE thinks that a government school, particularly an SC government school has any shred of economic or academic accountability they have lost their mind. As for accessiblity – if Rex and Inex were not wasting so much money on their failing schools, we the taxpayers might have the (rally “our”) money to send our kids to competitive private schools or (in my case ) homeschool them without worrying about a lost income. That would be REAL “accountable and accessible” instruction!

  2. The Charleston Paper is Right – this is about one person (or one committee’s) vision of teaching, like some kind of expermentation through instruction. Doesnt seem right to have staff people doing this at our schools.

  3. I like the idea of single gender classrooms myself. Unfortunately, I think Rex acting as if the preferences of parents play into the Department of Ed’s decisions is a joke. When the rubber meets the road they could care less what parents think. If they really did, school choice would have been around in South Carolina for a while now.

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