Big Surprise! More $pending won’t produce better education

grads on stacks of cash.jpg
Monday, the State Newspaper published an OpEd by Randy Page dealing with the explosive growth of K-12 education spending in South Carolina.

Surprisingly Page begins by agreeing with left-leaning editor Cindi Scoppe, who earlier published on the failure of the property-sales tax of 2006. Scoppe is frustrated with the regressiveness of a sales tax and the shifting of property taxes to business. Page agrees, but goes on to qualify:

[Scoppe’s] prescription is an overhaul of the tax code. But if we’re going to talk about the tax swap, what we need to talk about is how the end result was a tax hike. We also need to consider how much funding already goes to public schools, how fast the funding has grown and why only 44 cents on the dollar reaches the classroom in instructional spending.

Page explains how the pennies-per-day sales tax provided political cover both for state politicians and local politicians. State lawmakers claimed to have cut property taxes and local governments were able to sneak in millage hikes and reassessment.

The heart of this argument is that public school spending -always used to justify growth in taxes- is already high, and should not grow unchecked. Page goes on:

On the spending side, Scoppe compares tax dollars for public schools with spending on fire service. This is both empirically and philosophically wrong. With more than $11,480 per student in public school spending in 2008, South Carolina spends hundreds more than its Southeastern neighbors. With a growing achievement gap between black and white students, and South Carolina’s “best” public schools lagging far behind their peers in North Carolina or Georgia, many parents are questioning how increased spending will reform the system.

The OpEd continues with an explanation of how the importance of education as a public good justifies taxation and public spending but not inefficient and under-perofrming schools. He points to South Carolina’s popular college and pre-kindergarten scholarships as examples of a public good facilitated through marketplace competition. He concludes his argument with an insight into how Scoppe and others on the left have wrongly framed the problems of education in a manner that will always support more spending.

Finally, Ms. Scoppe’s suggestion that “school taxes pay to educate the children of South Carolina, not the children of the individual taxpayer” is troublesome. The state of South Carolina does not have any children of its own. Government is simply the framework in which individuals cooperate and a structure for balancing the benefits and burdens of that cooperation.

Many families who pay taxes find the public schools in South Carolina to be academically ineffective. Others worry that public schools transmit values in conflict with their own. When parents are compelled to remove children from public schools for these legitimate reasons, and are then forced to pay for schools they don’t utilize, the government is punishing families for responsible parenting.

The full editorial is online here.


5 responses to “Big Surprise! More $pending won’t produce better education

  1. The Lexington county Assessor’s Office states on their website.
    Q. Am I supposed to be told about changes in market value determined for my property?

    A. Yes. The Assessor must mail a property assessment notice to all property owners whose real property’s fair market value increases by $1,000 or more. Assessment notices must be sent to the person listed as property owner as of December 31 of the prior year.

    The assessment notice includes the market value, the new assessment value, the assessment ratio, number of acres or lots, location of property, tax map number and the appeals procedure.

    But the Assessor’s Office is not telling the public the whole truth as shown below from

    South Carolina code of laws , title 12 taxation ,section 12-37-90 ,sub section C I wonder how many of the other county assessser’s offices are telling half-truths

    Read the code of laws on the legislature’s website here

  2. Last paragraph hits right on the mark. When we send our kids to a private Christian school we are saving the taxpayers thousands of dollars, giving our kids better instruction, and ensuring that our children are exposed to the values we cherish. That is our RIGHT as parents, but everyone benefits because they will be more educated and more responsible community members when they grow up. What sort of government punishes parents for working for their kids like this?

  3. Helen Throckmorton

    This is OLD news!!!!! When did you discover this and did you do so on your own??? Sorry for jumping on you, however, anyone with one brain cell not arguing with the other brain cell can figure this out. We need to spend the money on QUALITY teachers and go BACK to the basics of teaching. I am a product of the South Carolina School System, specifically, Sumter District 17. I learned at the ripe age of 36 I am ADHD/ADD. This was not the fault of the schools or anyone else, for that matter, however, teachers in the schools today love to attempt this diagnosis on their own in order to have “Stepford Students”.

    I have long been rabid on the subject of throwing good money after bad. I have had the pleasure to be a substitute teacher in Charleston County Schools. I have seen more than I expected to see and understand why the best teachers are leaving the profession. I am 52, I have a BS in Chem from College of Charleston, my former professors have pleaded with me to teach in the high schools and I refuse. The payscale for someone who is good at what they do, my former professors have seen me teach and know my talents, is sorely under rated here in the Great State of South Carolina. I don’t know how the new teachers survive on the pay they receive when they begin teaching, let alone put up with the lack of discipline of the students both at school and in the homes. I have laughingly said I won’t teach unless I am paid at LEAST $50,000 and an extra $100,000 for Combat pay, however, in so many cases this isn’t too far off the mark.

    There are several ways we can bring our schools back up, but, throwing good money after bad teacher, programs and what have you is not the answer. Most graduating high school seniors don’t know what you are talking about when you ask them can you diagram this sentence. When did we stop teaching real english??? I mean verb conjugation, meaning of adverbs, adjectives, etc. We are essentially being FORCED to teach Spanish which does include teaching all of the above and more. Why should our American students know more about the Spanish language than they do about their own??
    The Spanish students aren’t being FORCED to learn as much about English as our students are about Spanish.

    I am getting off this soapbox, for, as you can see I am extremely passionate about the issue of the South Carolina School System. I am a product of the system and know it can and has been better in the past. What is wrong with getting back to “Teaching little Johnny to Read”???

    Helen L. Throckmorton

  4. You are right – money is not the answer. We spent massively per student in Allendale for 7 years and they showed no improvement. They had the Lowest SAT scored in the state last year. We are trying to educate each student at a college prep level with one 24 credit CP HS diploma. Many students simply can’t do that so they drop out. (we push them out) PACT scores have not improved since 2004. We continue to be at the bottom in the nation by any nat. test. Students need job skills and OJT with several levels of HS diplomas.

  5. Arch Wakefield

    I wrote the Rock Hill Herald as follows:

    Dear Voice;
    Jim Watkins and his dog, Mojo, fulminate in the 7 Aug Herald against school vouchers with the usual false arguments that this will destroy the public school system. The way I see it vouchers give parents and children an alternate to public schools which they are free to use or not to use as they wish. All of the systems I have read about require the parents to pay extra if their children attend voucher schools so, if they opt for this, they must think this provides their children a better education. Improved education at no additional cost to the taxpayers seems like a win-win situation to me. But what do I know? I’m only a human, not a dog.
    The argument that a voucher system will reduce funding for public schools is a red (or possibly a green) herring. Of course it will. But the public schools will have fewer students if some opt for vouchers and will have more money per student, because the amount taken away for vouchers is less than the current funding per student. It’s silly, but if ALL the students in a school accept vouchers, you could have a public school with no students!
    In the few places where a true voucher program has been tried, public schools have often reacted to the competition by lowering their costs and improving their student’s test scores. The hysterical opposition to voucher programs has been orchestrated by those who fear for their jobs and their fiefdoms: teachers and school administrator unions.

    Arch Wakefield, Vice-Chair York County Libertarian Party
    3047 Point Clear Dr
    Tega Cay SC 29708

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