Legalized bribery: Testing company DRC’s pay-to-play politics means thousands of dollars in donations for incumbent politicians and hundreds of millions in state contracts for DRC.
Bob Walker, Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee, is on the defensive. Working with Jim Rex, Walker thought he might use the debate over the PACT test as a opportunity to chip away at the state’s accountability system. By further lowering standards, Walker and Rex could better mask the failures in the K-12 education system they preside over. Fortunately, members of the Senate have caught on to the plan, and called for Rex to replace the PACT on his own.
Jim Rex promised he would replace the PACT. He could have done this his first day in office. But he didn’t. Months later, Rex is joining Walker in trying to blame the General Assembly.
Senators Ryberg and Bryant are publicly calling Rex’s bluff. Both have a expressed a desire to ensure PACT is replaced, and agree that changes to the EAA are a separate manner.
Rex is shackled by his ties to DRC, the company who has made millions by writing, administering, and grading the PACT. DRC has given thousands of dollars to Rex, and thousands more to the school administrators (SCASA) and the education association (SCEA) who have laundered the money to Rex through their political action committees (PACs).
So instead of changing the PACT, Rex is showboating, and trying to force lawmakers to weaken standards by stripping the Education Accountability Act (EAA). Rex knows that lowered standards and a sweet request for proposal for his DRC donors means more money for his 2010 reelection bid.
Rex is working hand-in-hand with Bob Walker, also a recipient of DRC’s tainted money. Walker enjoys both direct DRC donations, as well as additional “soft” money that has been laundered through the controversial Palmetto Leadership Council PAC. Walker is also close with SCASA, SCEA, and SCSBA, who shower him with gifts and support.
The Rex/Walker anti-accountability team is driven by Warren Tompkins, a divisive political consultant who has received neatly $400,000 to lobby for DRC in the halls of the capital building.
Walker and Rex have corrupted the process by accepting donations from DRC. A lawmaker who writes education policy and a superintendent who implements it should rise above this type of pay-to-play politics. The money, both directly and through PACs, is tainted and threatens to further steer our worst-in-the-nation schools off course.
Rex and Walker need to return the DRC money immediately and Rex needs to use his administrative powers as Superintendent to replace PACT without altering the EAA. If South Carolina used an existing standardized test, augmented to our curriculum, and designed to provide diagnostic data, our government schools might begin their long crawl up from 50th place.