Q: Who is using public money and positions to fight parents calling for school choice?
A: Seven registered lobbyists and dozens of full-time staffers!
Real School Choice is wildly popular.
Parents in South Carolina know that every child is unique and the one-size-fits-all public schools are leaving thousands of students behind.
In recent weeks hundreds of parents have been advocating Choice at the statehouse; imploring lawmakers to consider expanding school choice options to K-12 education. Many who come to Columbia are surprised to see that high dollar lobbyists and publicists, paid with public money, are already working in the hallways of the Statehouse to fight the Choice legislation.
Even more offensive, some of these taxpayer subsidized politicos are claiming to speak for the parents and children in South Carolina.
Among those fighting to deny low- and middle-income children more equal access to independent school classrooms are the SCEA, SCASA, and SCSBA.
Here is a brief run down of each:
South Carolina Education Association (SCEA)
The South Carolina affiliate of the far-left National Education Association (NEA) teacher union, the SCEA is infamous in the Palmetto State for using public money (in the form of teachers’ and bureaucrats’ dues) for direct cash “donations” to their favored politicians. Their pay-to-play style of politics also includes close relationships with high-dollar education contractors who profit from South Carolina’s stagnant and failing public schools.
When it comes to real school choice for parents, the SCEA company line is crystal clear: “No!” Their website is littered with political platitudes and inaccuracies about School Choice legislation. Sheila C. Gallagher carries the union banner defaming choice for parents and insisting;
“the General Assembly must concentrate on listening to the public school administrators, teachers and education support professionals who work every day to make our public schools great for every student.”
In other words – Ignore the wishes of parents!
Gallagher, like the SCEA’s small army of paid lobbyists (including Richard Davis, Joanie Lawson, Heather Smith, and Aaron Wallace) have no interest in answering to the taxpayers that fund them. They are narrowly committed to perpetuating a vast and failing public school system, even when it has clearly failed to deliver on its promises. They have even used tax dollars to deny classroom options for severely handicapped children. The SCEA’s core policy is “system over student.”
South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA)
SCASA is a group of teachers administrators who believe that they are smarter than parents. Sitting in their plush offices, stockpiling public money, and clamoring for ever-greater funding, members and leadership of the Administrators Association ignore the obvious fact that higher spending has not translated into improved student achievement in public schools.
Their paid power-brokers lobbying with tax money at the Statehouse include Elizabeth Phibbs, as well as eight full time staffers led by Molly Spearman and Ronnie Townsend.
South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA),
The School Boards Association is no stranger to controversy. From machine style political turnout drives (thinly veiled as non-partisan “registrations“) to member Superintendents directly telling their employees how to vote, the politically elected school board members use public resources to pursue a partisan political agenda.
The actual facts of how school choice will save public money (and expand their own public school spending) simply don’t matter to SCSBA.
Together, these three groups form an unbelievably self-righteous, taxpayer-subsidized dog and pony show of anti-reform antics. Coddling the failed status quo, and expecting elected officials to act as default “yes” men/women for their ploys is the name of the game.
Like anchors sunk deep into the muck of fiscal irresponsibility and academic failure, groups like SCASA, SCEA and SCSBA refuse to let South Carolina move forward.
Lawmakers, long used to seeing these home-grown special interests at home in the halls of power, need to stand up and make their priorities known to families in their districts: Is it going to be children or bureaucrats? It can never be both.