Bureaucrats bask in media attention
No one wants hard working South Carolina teachers to lose their jobs. Maintaining an adequate number of effective teachers should be priority for school districts during a time of financial uncertainty.
While many administrators and bureaucrats pay constant lip service to this principle, actions on the part of some public school districts show a readiness to put teachers on the chopping block to gain ground in wringing more money out of drained state coffers.
Unfortunately, Midlands’ parents eager to look into the reality of school funding will be disappointed again by The State, whose reporting is transparently unwilling to dig deeper than the deceptive sound bytes of district spokespeople.
Lexington/ Richland 5:
Lex/Rich 5 has blazed new trails in exploiting financial turmoil to its own advantage. Even after a seemingly unending string of administrative scandals and misrepresentations, the district was somehow able to push through a bond referendum to finance the construction of new schools to accommodate a “growing” student population. In recent weeks, the district has announced the firing of 70 teachers as a result of not receiving federal stimulus funds, and hinted that these might not be the last.
How Lex/Rich 5 is pulling a fast one:
As The Voice previously reported, Lex/Rich 5’s own year-end report points to current cuts in staff being the result of a ten year hiring binge, not because of budget cuts and the lack of stimulus money. From 1999 to 2008, the number of teaching staff increased by 57%, while the student population increased by only 16%! After a district bond referendum was foisted off on trusting taxpayers, demographic information was released stating that school populations in the district were not expected to increase in the next few years. So much for desperately needed new schools. Teachers and taxpayers are getting short changed so bureaucrats can play at being victims. Lex/Rich 5 has jumped at the chance to blame its decade-long pattern of mismanagement and misrepresentation on something else, and is not above using teachers that are casualties of the district’s own shady dealings to do so. Continue reading
Posted in POLICY
Tagged Budget Cuts, Cost Efficiency, Frank Morgan, Funding, Herbert Berg, Jim Rex, Kershaw County, Lexington One, Lexington/Richland 5, spin, The State
“South Carolina Considers School Choice Legislation”
An article by Sarah McIntosh, published in the June 2009 edition of the School Reform News.
South Carolina could become the latest state to implement a tax credit scholarship program allowing low-income children to attend the private school of their parents’ choice, if a bill introduced during the spring session becomes law.
State Sen. Robert Ford (D–Charleston) is sponsoring a bill to provide more school choice in the state. Senate Bill 520, the South Carolina Education Opportunity Act, would establish credits on personal state income taxes for education expenses and donations to groups granting scholarships to low-income children.
More than 100 people came to testify at an April 23 Senate K-12 Education Subcommittee hearing. Though only 40 were permitted to speak, twice as many spoke in support of the program than against. At a second subcommittee hearing on April 29, legislators gave the bill an unfavorable grade but sent it to the full committee for a future vote. Continue reading
Parents and teachers will be gratified to know that consultants and contractors are still getting their fair share of the SC Department of Education’s spending.
In fact, the $397,876 spent on”Non-State Education and Training Services” in April was a significant increase from previous months!
Even economic stress and uncertainty did not keep the SC Department of Education from spending $30,000 more on consultants in April than was spent in March, and $39,000 more than was spent in February! Continue reading
“…taxpayers saved $1.49 in state education funding for every dollar loss in corporate income tax revenue due to credits for scholarship contributions.” -FL Accountability Office
Florida is home to a Corporate Tax Credit Scholarships Program, similar to one being proposed in South Carolina.
In Florida, corporations may receive state tax credits for charitable contributions to nonprofit scholarship funding organizations (or “SFOs”). The amount of credit is equal to the amount contributed and may not exceed 75 percent of tax due for the taxable year. Currently, the total amount of tax credits that may be granted each year is $118 million (up from $88 million when the bill was adopted in 2001). The credits are awarded to corporations on a first-come, first-served basis.
The SFOs provide scholarships for attendance at private schools. Just as in the South Carolina legislation, participating private schools must be deemed compliant with state laws and regulations by the state and students must come from low-income families.
In the 2008-09 school year, 20,810 low-income students in Florida received scholarships to attend 937 participating private schools.
Obviously, any program that empowers the parents of 20,000 students to make real choices about K-12 education is a huge success.
Now the State Government of Florida reports that the tax credit program is also a fiscal success. Continue reading
Consulting: why fix a broken school system when you can profit from its failures?
The economic forecast is still calling for rain, and public education officials have not been shy about the need for more money.
Despite gloomy predictions about massive cuts cutting out classroom teachers, State Superintendent Rex has been placed in the awkward position of explaining large amounts of spending on education “consultants” and contractors.
Especially uncomfortable was Rex’s attempt to portray payments to former campaign manager Zeke Stokes- and various other holdovers from Inez Tenenbaum’s administration- as vital expenses for improving education in South Carolina. Continue reading
Private Montessori schools build on decades of success as the one-size-fits-all public system struggles to catch up.
Montessori programs in public schools around the state rate high with parents. Now public school districts are looking for ways to accommodate all the students who want to participate.
Charleston parents are particularly eager to have their children enrolled in the Charleston School District’s Montessori Community School. Unfortunately, limited space has resulted in a short list of enrolled students, and a much longer list of disappointed students hoping for the chance to attend.
Through letter writing, and clamoring at school board meetings, engaged parents have been voicing their desire for expanded access to this type of educational program. According to Dr. Nancy McGinley, the Charleston school superintendent, “Wherever we have Montessori, we have a waiting list.”
Unfortunately, interest from parents has been able to generate only so much response from school districts. The high cost of purchasing Montessori materials, and training and certifying teachers in the method, can make it hard for schools to get Montessori programs parents want up and running.
There is obviously a huge desire among parents for Montessori education, and limited availability of the programs at local public schools.
This is where school choice comes in. Continue reading