Iron Law of Unintended Consequences rears its ugly head.
Plans for “Camp Rex” are moving forward, and funding for the project is about to become another expensive burden for South Carolina taxpayers.
The new Teacher Renewal Center was originally touted as being “privately financed,” but now the Upstate’s News Channel 4 reports that that the center “will be paid for through grants, a modest registration fee and possibly state dollars.”
It’s good to see that the “law of unintended consequences” is a good enough reason for education bureaucrats to charge South Carolina taxpayers even more money.
While training and merit-based awards for teachers sound like a great idea, in practice the State Education Department has a sordid history of failing to effectively deliver on it’s hype.
South Carolinians have already seen how quickly a “good idea” can become a hefty recurring expense that no one ever intended or authorized. Look at the SDE’s grand idea to make housing more affordable for young teachers: this well-intentioned plan quickly spiraled into a scheme where bureaucrats making six figures could get subsidized, sub-prime mortgages on $284,000 homes!
The same principles will be at work with the Teacher Renewal Center. Who will pay the year in, year out operating costs of the retreat center? Such a large facility will almost certainly require a large staff; will they be paid and insured by the state? These are just two of the many questions that need to be answered by Jim Rex and the others pushing for the Renewal Center. Then again, a politician as cagey as Jim Rex probably considered these very problems long ago, and figured that the “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission” principle would carry him through any storm arising from the use of public funds.
This center might be end up being a great place for teachers to share best practices in an encouraging atmosphere. Let’s hope so. But that does not mean that state funds should pay for it. If the tens of millions of dollars received for this non-essential project are not enough to accomplish their desired goal, then the SC Department of Education needs to do what it hates most: scale back.