Classroom teachers struggle as “Educator” elites indulge in a publicly-funded pampering.
This has been a rough year for classroom teachers in South Carolina’s public schools.
The 2008-09 school year began with over $11,480.00 in per student appropriations but teachers saw just pennies on those dollars. According the South Carolina’s Budget and Control Board, only 44 cents per public dollar was actually slated to reach the classroom in the form of “instructional spending.” The rest went for spending on items as varied as private golf course memberships to questionable out-of-state travel reimbursements for so-called Educational Leaders (or “Educrats“).
Then a downturn in tax revenue collections began to chip away at the state portion of that public school funding.
As well-connected contractors, consultants, and politicos continued to enjoy their generous disbursements from the State Department of Education and local school districts, the salaries -and even the jobs- of classroom teachers were put on the chopping block. State Superintendent Jim Rex -and others- insisted that hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to non-teachers were contractually necessary, as part of “restricted funds,” and that classroom teachers would need to be fired to keep enough money in The System.
Rex, local superintendents, and local school board members all rushed to exploit the “unavoidable cuts” in the media, using the threat of teacher job cuts to score political points on pet political issues ranging from tax hikes to lowered academic standards.
Adding insult to injury, parents and teachers soon learned that many of the districts that fired (or threatened to fire) classroom teachers were sitting on stockpiles of cash in the form of giant reserve funds. Deeper investigation also found that in some cases years of district mismanagement and ill-conceived fiscal policies necessitated teacher firings, but school officials still exploited media perceptions about the economic downturn to divert blame from themselves.
Now, in another slap in the face to hardworking classroom teachers, the elite of South Carolina’s full time non-teaching “Professional Educators” are headed off to glut themselves on creature comforts at Myrtle Beach’s sea side, high-dollar Kingston Plantation. Superintendent Thomas White (below, with actual menu entry) and others will have the chance to wine and dine with events from Sunday June 21st through Friday June 26th.
Dr. Thomas White -of Spartanburg 7- should be able to take some restful “me-time” after the all heat over wasting district monies!
The heavily politicized “South Carolina Association of School Administrators” (or SCASA) is, despite the worsening statewide financial crisis, holding it ostentatious yearly conference at a seaside four-star luxury resort. Based on priorities reflected in SCASA’s stated organizational “Objectives,” (below, from the SCASA website) the emphasis of the conference is not likely to be students.
SCASA isn’t likely to post the event budget online anytime soon, but here is what The Voice does know:
SCASA staff employees receive taxpayer subsidized health and dental benefits.
In other words, one way or another, the taxpayer is footing the bill for the public-funded pampering (thoughtfully termed the “Leadership Institute“), and that means the money is not going to into the private sector economy, and is certainly not going into the public school classroom.
Not surprisingly, the event schedule indicates that many of those making speeches and presentations at the SCASA retreat are the same politicos who have used public resources -and their public position- to fight against meaningful K-12 education reform.
If SCASA and others were seriously interested in learning something about “leadership” (not to mention trying to display it) they might choose not to immerse themselves in self-gratification on the backs of South Carolina teachers and families. Instead they could use the money support real improvements and real choices for the 73,000 children trapped in failing public schools and the 122 students who dropout of public high schools each day. Those are children who won’t garner much (if any) benefit from the plush high thread count linen sheets and decadently rich chocolate desserts the members of SCASA will be enjoying in Myrtle Beach.
Don’t worry – both the “attendance fee” and the “additional fee” will be picked up by the taxpayer!
Superintendent “Fresh Seafood” Frank Morgan of Kershaw insists he only indulges “for the kids!”
“Your room service, Dr. McGinley. I put it on the ‘Charleston taxpayers’ tab like you asked.”