EOC: South Carolina’s $1.8 Billion Barney Fife

Keystone Cops.jpg

South Carolina Education Oversight Committee (EOC) full-time staff are the keystone cops that let State Superintendent Jim Rex get away with all his crazy high-dollar antics!

South Carolina’s monolithic public schools are home to some of the lowest test scores and highest drop out rates in the entire country.

Even the “best” public schools in the state are totally uncompetitive with similar schools in other states.

This despite years of chaotic but massive funding growth, with total per-student spending now over $11,400.

But the the famed “Educational Accountability Act” (EAA) of 1998 was supposed to change all that. When the EAA was passed it was portrayed as a model of high standards and transparency, and was considered by some as influential in the passing of the subsequent federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. The basic function of the EAA was to create the Education Oversight Committee (EOC), a new government bureaucracy to serve as the “watchdog” of student achievement standards.

The EAA bureaucracy has since developed into a classic big-government low-outcome operation. EOC Director Jo Anne Anderson makes $124,400 a year to serve as the public schools’ chief failure apologist. Despite years of steady declines in performance, and an exploding performance gap, the EOC actually works to massage the numbers, and issues reports lauding “success” when scores drop!

The EOC has totally failed its watchdog mandate. In the press and under the statehouse dome, EOC staffers persistently defend failing public schools, lowered standards, wasteful spending, and rejection of choice for parents. Most recently, the EOC was notably absent in the exposure of the shameful Clyde-Sanders PACT cheating scandal that is rocking headlines in South Carolina.

Sadly, state-administered standardized testing has failed in South Carolina (though studies show it has improved scores in neighboring states). The reasons are many, and include special interest testing companies (rather than the use of a commercial nationally normed test) and lowered standards. But a large portion of the “credit” goes to the EOC, the state entity specifically tasked with “Oversight.”

How much credit should the EOC staff get?

How about 600 percent?

Why so much? Because that is the growth rate for state funding of the Education Accountability Act (according to the well-paid bean counters at the EOC). In fact, EAA funding has soared from $35 million in 1999 to an exorbitant $257 million for the 2008-09 school year! Total appropriations (1999-2009) for the EAA now exceed $1.8 billion in public funds. And what has the money given to the taxpayers and the children? Not much. Just fluff and failure. Even failure-facilitator Jim Rex agreed the PACT was a horrible burden on teachers and students, and the EOC can not take credit for substantial student achievement gain because there has not been any!

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9 responses to “EOC: South Carolina’s $1.8 Billion Barney Fife

  1. $1.8 billion could pay for a lot of private school scholarships for low-income kids, with plenty left over for some good ‘ole IOWA tests! And Joanne’s salary could probably buy some gas for the much hyped empty school buses!

  2. The jokers that enable this failure – our elected legislators – need to be sent packing. It’s a shame that we can’t do any better.

  3. The Legislative Audit Council complained about this or something similar a few years ago, right?

  4. Tiger, Yes
    In 2004 (still on the LAC website)
    Among the highlights:

    “…found that South Carolina students are generally tested more frequently than students in other states. If the state reduced or consolidated some of its assessments and required remediation plans, cost savings and other benefits would likely result.”

    “…SDE has not coordinated with the Education Oversight Committee the selection of its goals for measuring student learning. For many performance measures, the department has not set target dates for the accomplishment of its goals. Also, the educational data that SDE reports to the public each year may not be adequate for determining whether South Carolina is achieving its goals.”

    “…As mandated by the Education Accountability Act, the state spent more than $46 million in FY 02-03 for nine programs that provide intervention and assistance to low-performing schools. We reviewed SDE’s management of these programs and found that the department has not implemented adequate measures that can be used to determine program results.”

  5. I know hardly anything about the EOC and what they are supposed to do, but I do know that a 600% increase in any bureaucratic agency’s funding is a red flag that our money is being wasted! If the EOC’s job is to be a watchdog for schools, then they have obviously failed. What do you expect when the government is the watchdog?

  6. The folks at the EOC work very hard to both improve education and point out areas of weakness. They are not an agency with any authority to make policy or budget decisions. They merely highlight issues and make reccomendations. Please remember that the State dept. of Ed., and Rex in particular, are the ones making decisions. The legislature are the folks who actually are the decision makers. The people at the EOC do hours and hours of research for each report they issue. They are not, however, responsible for what the department or the legislature does with the information.

  7. $1.8 billion for K-12 accountability and the EOC is “without authority?” That is comforting. What is that on a per-report basis?

  8. The State has an editorial today calling for “elimination of agencies” or “raising taxes” to deal with the budget crunch.
    I vote for axing the EOC and then take the State Dept of Ed. out of the testing business – bring back IOWA or STANFORD tests!

  9. What we need to do is send the government funding back to Washington and manage our own schools with our own textbooks that teach things other than the left wing ideas propulgated by the liberals in the Federal Department of Education. (which in my estimation ought to be abolished) When you accept government monies then they have you in a strangle hold with all their stupid rules and they black mail you into taking their warped ideas or they will cut off the funds. In the early 50’s There was a vote to accept federal funding. My father voted NO, but the idiots in this State were money hungry and look where its got us today.

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