Author Archives: choicevoice

Jim Rex Calls for Major Sales Tax Hike

Jim Rex South Carolina Tax Hike

“I think that might be seen in South Carolina as defensible.”

-Superintendent “Dropout Jim” Rex on lifting the sales tax cap on cars, planes and boats

From the time that cuts to the state budget were first considered a necessity, Jim Rex has opposed any actions that would take money from the public education establishment. Despite the fact that South Carolinians in every income bracket are struggling to deal with a negative economic climate, Rex has continued to put on an aggrieved air, and acted as if education bureaucrats are bearing the entire weight of the state’s economic woes. Continue reading

Probe into PACT Cheating Scandal Comes Up Empty?

SandersClyde

A SLED investigation into MiShawna Moore, erstwhile darling of the South Carolina education establishment and suspected test “tailor,” has come up with nothing.

As principal of Sanders-Clyde Elementary, a chronically failing public school in Charleston County, Moore came under heavy suspicion when PACT scores at her school suddenly shot up above district and state levels. When tests were carefully monitored, scores dropped significantly in every subject; drops that were characterized as “unusual” and “much greater” than other schools. Equally troubling was the higher-than-usual number of erased and corrected answers.

Moore-and other school employees- insisted that the scores were legitimate, and that drops could be blamed on harsh test monitors denying students snacks.

The Associated Press reports that the SLED investigation into the situation has ended, with nothing to show for it.

It is everyone’s hope that there was no altering of test grades, and that somehow the numerous and incredibly sketchy indications of illicit conduct are pure happenstance, but it doesn’t seem likely.

Hopefully, the schools overseers in Charleston County and in the SC Department of Education will continue to look into this situation, and prevent more children from being similarly short-changed.

Department of Education gives Consultants $391,469 Stimulus Package

Molly Spearman SCASA

It’s that time again. The time when South Carolina taxpayers can see just how much money the “strapped” SC State Department of Education has paid out to education contractors and consultants during a recession.

This month, almost $400,000 was doled out to a variety of consultants, contractors and political advisers. Unfortunately, those aren’t the only people who got paid big bucks. Teachers may be on furlough, or without work, but SCASA managed to somehow squeeze $29,000 from taxpayers. Were some of these other payments made to folks who had booths set up at the recent SCASA oceanside retreat? Rex’s frequent excuse that contractors are brought in to “save the department money” certainly doesn’t hold water in this instance.

Here is a recap of consultant spending in 2009.

  • January-$296,526
  • February-$358,398
  • March-$366,996
  • April-$397,876
  • May-$333,791
  • June-$391,469
  • Year to Date$2,145,056

Here is a complete list of contractors and consultants who received checks from the Department of Education in June 2009. See it for yourself here.

Continue reading

Traditional Public Schools Not Ideal for Every Child

Square Peg in a Round Hole_0565

One-size-fits-all government schools: YOUR tax dollars forcing a square peg into a round hole.

With the help of a $191,000 federal grant, an after-school program will be able starting up at an Aiken County elementary school.
Aiken Families in Transition,” the grant recipient, will take in up to 125 students who need after-school help in a wide variety of academic and critical-thinking subjects.

According to a State Department of Education press release, Superintendent Rex expressed encouragement for the program, stating, “ Students who are struggling in class can get a real academic boost in a well-run after-school setting.”

Through a variety of grants and private contributions, some of the needy students in Aiken County are going to get the instruction they need to compete and excel. For these students, who undoubtedly have a wide variety of learning needs and aptitudes, this help is going to come from outside a traditional, public school classroom.
Continue reading

SCASA Grabs for a Slice of Stimulus Pie

mollyscasa

SCASA Executive Director Molly Spearman eager for a taxpayer-subsidized bailout!

Everyone’s favorite taxpayer- subsidized, education bureaucracy cheering squad is suffering from a terminal case of greed.

The South Carolina Association of School Administrators ( SCASA), a slavering defender of anything done by South Carolina’s bloated education bureaucracy, has been recently exposed for its efforts to lay hands on $300,000 of federal “bailout” money.

How? Why? Last time The Voice checked, SCASA didn’t do anything except posture with people like this, and try to influence the legislature through publicly-funded lobbyists.

Yesterday FITSNews broke the story on this latest SCASA money grab –

According to documents filed with S.C. Supreme Court earlier this month, SCASA is requesting more than $150,000 worth of “cost reimbursement” for its legal fees – an amount which would be doubled under the “multiplier” recommended in a companion brief filed by USC law professor John P. Freeman.

The petition filed by SCASA argues that S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford acted “without substantial justification” in opposing a portion of the federal “bureaucratic bailout” funds allotted to South Carolina, and that the organization should be compensated for securing the money on behalf of all South Carolinians.”

What do these people do anyway? Certainly setting up expensive, beach retreats for bureaucrats during a recession, and excusing failures of the state’s public education system, are not sufficient reasons for struggling taxpayers to have to subsidize them through dues and the state health care plan.

Our state’s legislature needs to kick groups like SCASA away from the public trough, and make sure every tax dollar is being allocated to legitimate needs, or going back into the pockets of citizens.

Rex Says Administrative Travel Costs Are “Justified” (VIDEO)

In his televised “State of Our Schools” talk, Rex addressed an uncomortable question posed by The Voice: If schools are so broke, why are many administrators running up bills at a “Leadership Conference” in Myrtle Beach that they fully intend to hand off to the taxpayers back home?

Besides trying to minimize the question with condescending laughter, Rex pointed out that only 800 bureaucrats were in attendance, unlike the 1800 that attended last year. Additionally, representatives from some of the state’s most challenged schools were in attendance, and the issues facing them must be addressed in the setting provided by the SCASA ( South Carolina Association of School Administrators) “Leadership Conference.”

Rex finished off by pointing out that a significant portion of the state’s tourist revenue comes from Myrtle Beach, and that cancelling the “long-standing” SCASA conference would be detrimental to the tourism industry.

So taxpayers should pony up for district bureaucrats to take a sea-side vacation because they don’t want tourism revenues in Myrtle Beach to decline? Even in times of economic prosperity, people would balk at this kind of expense ( if they knew) in the name of “education.” How much more now, when teachers are being laid off, and parents are being warned that class sizes and their property tax bills could be increasing?

Some administrators chose not to attend, and to spare local parents the burden of paying for the trip. Others felt that attending was important enough for them to pay for the trip out-of-pocket. Tough times call for tough spending practices, and trips to Myrtle Beach don’t fit that description.

More Jim Rex Ethics Antics

Superintendent Jim Rex of South Carolina

The Voice has never been shy about calling out “Dropout Jim” Rex for using taxpayer funds to reward and retain his loyal political consultant, Zeke Stokes (or f0r personal politicking)

In fact, after posting the numbers on how much Rex was paying his former campaign manager, questions from several news sources had Rex scrambling to show just how invaluable his consultant was in educating children in South Carolina.

Now, South Carolinians can see more of Rex’s financial dealings with his trusted consultant.

On Rex’s most recent Ethics Commission filing, the following shows up as a “contribution” from Zeke Stokes

Payment from Zeke

On the same filing, under “Expenditures,” Rex lists a payment to Zeke Stokes for $30.69 for “Printing 2010”-

Payment to Zeke

That’s funny, it’s the same amount! Continue reading