Spending Flexibility for Districts
Wes Wolfe reports that a bill for greater local autonomy for public school spending is was stuck in the House.
The State Newspaper pundits have editorialized in favor of quick passage of the bill.
Essentially, they want to be able to do what we keep demanding that all of government do but that several state laws prohibit schools from doing — fund the very most essential programs, in the most efficient way possible, and do away with anything that can be done away with.
This would make sense even if its only benefit were to keep teachers in the classrooms. But that’s not the only benefit: It gives schools an opportunity to demonstrate what they would do — under the most extreme of circumstances — if they were freed permanently from some of the mandates. If they handle this freedom responsibly, then there will be no excuse for not granting them permanent flexibility. If they do not, we’ll have some idea of what type of flexibility is warranted, and what isn’t. This experiment might even point us to additional flexibility measures no one had considered.
Wednesday morning the bill still looked like it might stall, as some advocates are arguing with other lawmakers (who claimed to support the bill but) who had begun to load the bill down with specific carve-outs and mandates in the form of amendments. But by midday the bill had finally left the house.
Minimally Adequate Political Ploy
Despite $360 million in state budget cuts for K-12 education threatening classroom teacher jobs, the rank-and-file public school teachers are still being manipulated by administrators, bureaucrats, consultants, politicians, unions and other special interests who profit like parasites from public spending on K-12 education. Continue reading
Jim Rex was elected in late 2006 on a promise to reinvent South Carolina public schools. His “together we can” mantra invited great optimism among teachers and parents, despite the fact that his election victory was the result of a plurality, not a majority.
Two years later Rex’s promises remain unfulfilled and conditions at our public schools have deteriorated.
Since 2006, the differences between black and white children’s test scores in math and English have worsened. Statewide, daily attendance at school and the number of on-time graduations have crept down. Average SAT scores have dropped for all student types and the gaps between scores of white and black students have grown. The white/black SAT participation rate has also widened. Scores for high school End-Of-Course exams have sunk in both math and science. Even the “best” public schools in South Carolina are in a slump: in 2006 the average SAT score in York District 4 was 107 behind scores at public schools in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In 2008 the York 4 students had fallen 126 behind their North Carolina peers. Continue reading
State Senator Vincent A. Sheheen (D-Chesterfield, Kershaw & Lancaster) talks about public schools public education in South Carolina.
Learn more about public school funding in your district, South Carolina’s alarming graduation rate, persistently low SAT scores, the growing Achievement Gap in South Carolina, and the use of HOPE, LIFE and Palmetto Fellows scholarships at private colleges.
Also read about school choice’s benefits in terms of parental rights, student achievement and cost savings; even, how school choice will help public schools.
Posted in POLICY
Tagged change, Chesterfield, equitable school funding, Kershaw, Lancaster, minimally adequate, real equity, School Choice, Senator Sheheen, VIDEO, Vincent A. Sheheen, Vincent Sheheen
With the start of South Carolina’s legislative session looming, journalists across the state are focusing on K-12 education. That’s because spending on public education (averaging $11,480 per student last year) is the largest single item in the state’s budget. “Public Education” (often confused with the narrower concept of “public schools”) is also a big concern for parents, businessmen and community leaders, all of whom are concerned with inequity and under-performance in South Carolina’s public schools. Among the themes recently reported on:
BUDGET WOES: The already tense debate over budget balancing and spending efficiency is becoming more contentious. The State Newspaper recounted a war of words between State Superintendent Jim Rex and fellow Democrat Representative Harry Ott. Rex wanted a salary freeze for teachers and bus mechanics, Ott wondered why Rex was not willing to cut his own staff before slowing pay adjustments for classroom teachers.
JUDICIAL ACTIVISM: Orangeburg Times and Democrat critically examined the ongoing debate over a bill (and possible constitutional amendment) pushing for a re-write of state educational mandates. The Spartanburg Herald Journal sternly editorialized against the proposal. Continue reading
We’ve already looked at the pre-filed K-12 bills in the House, now here is an overview of legislation in the South Carolina Senate:
# S. 99, constitutional amendment; introduction of the so-called “high quality” language into the State Constitution. It calls for a re-write of the State Constitution’s mandates on public education. Authors have suggested that cutting and pasting a few words into the SC Constitution will radically improve the $11,480 per student schools. In actuality, this will do nothing more than invite another expensive and fruitless series of lawsuits, reminiscent of the fruitless 10-year “Corridor of Shame” trials. More details about this controversial proposal here. Sponsor: Matthews (D-Orangeburg).
# S. 129, constitutional amendment – eliminating Commissioner of Agriculture, Adjutant General and Superintendent of Education as elected. The intention is to streamline state government and depoliticize responsibilities for administering government services. Sponsor: Sheheen (D-Kershaw) Continue reading
Push for “high quality education” language in State Constitution is a scam.
South Carolina’s public schools are in shambles. Despite per-student spending of $11,480 per child, only a paltry 45 cents per dollar actually reaches children in the classroom.
Financial excess, mismanagement and waste are just the tip of the iceberg.
South Carolina public schools have the nation’s worst drop-out rate and some of the widest (and fastest growing) race and income gaps.
Even the so-called “best” public schools serving wealthy students are distantly behind their out-of-state peers.
Despite the dire situation, anti-school choice bureaucrats are committed to spending public money to fight against the wishes of parents who want change. Continue reading
Posted in POLICY
Tagged Cost Efficiency, Funding, goodbye minimally adequate, high quality education, James Smith, Jim Rex, John Matthews, minimally adequate, School Choice, school reform, South Carolina, spin
Across South Carolina, newspaper editors and reporters are voicing their frustration with the sustained failure of SC public schools. Here are a few recent highlights:
“PACT with excuses for sad test scores” by Andrew Dys of the Rock Hill Herald.
…Certainly, when the old [PACT] test was a failure, the best recourse is to change the test. The old name had to go, too. The Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test, the old bugaboo that told us every year our kids weren’t doing as well as they should, was clearly at fault.
Not the schools. Not you. Not me.
PACT was sent packing along with all those bad scores. If you change the name and the test, nobody will ever remember all the times the scores tanked, right? Continue reading