Tag Archives: News and Views

SC Education Reform News and Views

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Editors at the Charleston Post and Courier blast Jim Rex for offering platitudes, not real reform of failing school systems:

State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex describes some of the state’s initiatives today in a column on our Commentary page.

They include identifying and helping students at risk of dropping out, providing on-line learning and involving parents in developing an education plan for each child.

Notably, he doesn’t say what educators have said for too long — that systemic changes will take years, and that citizens should just be patient.

To the contrary, Dr. Rex says, “South Carolina’s on-time graduation rate … is among the most urgent problems facing our state in terms of both human potential and future prosperity.”

Our recent reports on reading problems in Charleston County schools cited the experience of Ridge Smith, who made it all the way to the ninth grade in Charleston County schools while reading at a third-grade level. Patience isn’t the answer to that kind of problem.

Ron Barnett of the Greenville News reports on the funding fight between high-dollar bureaucrats and classroom teachers: Continue reading

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Spartanburg HJ Editors wrong on Schools

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The Spartanburg based Herald Journal has a poor editorial and reporting track record on School Choice.

While parents from their readership area have written to the SHJ arguing for Choice, and driven to Columbia to personally pressure lawmakers for Choice, the paper continues to mis-repesent the details of Choice legislation, and the strength of its support.

Interestingly, the SHJ writers do recognize the existence of deep systemic flaws in Spartanburg public school governance.

These include wasteful spending, arrogance on the part of Superintendents, shady political posturing by public educators, and manipulation of SAT test score results.

Still, the paper has not been willing to push for specific reforms that will improve the situation. Chief among this would be School Choice. Continue reading

Politicians don’t really work for the people

South Carolina Political Puppets

A guest editorial by Mrs. Hollie Bennett, a parent, published in the Sun News (5/23):

Political issues are bought and sold in every level of government. There is no longer true representation of the people. The primary objective of every politician is re-election. Contributions to campaigns are mere purchases for favorable votes on issues of importance to the contributor and money for a politician’s re-election; a win-win situation for the contributor and the politician.

This became overwhelmingly evident to me at the hearing held in Columbia on the issue of real school choice. The 200-plus people who turned out for this hearing were overwhelmingly in support of real school choice, not this silliness of public school choice that Jim Rex is behind. (Does anyone really believe that a school district will convene a committee that will investigate school choice options that would in any way be meaningful? Please.) Continue reading

Index Journal: Anything can be debated, including school choice

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An editorial column from the Greenwood based Index Journal (5/15):

Anything can be debated, including school choice

“School choice” has become a bone of contention among many South Carolinians. For public school advocates, it’s a scheme to destroy public schools. For those who support school choice for parents, it’s an opportunity for their children to go to what they might consider better schools. They cite competition as means to make all schools better.

Whether school choice supporters are right or wrong, those opposed to the concept see it as taking public money from public schools to give to parents to use to send their children to private schools. Supporters see tax-paid “vouchers” as a way to offer school choices that their children do not now have.

THIS IS NOT A NEW ISSUE, to be sure. Governor Mark Sanford has been, perhaps, the major advocate of school choice. He hasn’t received enough support to change anything although he has had some who agree with him. Powerful groups have opposed the governor all along the way. Continue reading

Real school choice in S.C. is high priority

School Choice South Carolina

Real school choice in S.C. is high priority,” an editorial published in the Times and Democrat (5/22).

In recent weeks some politicians and administrators who claim to speak for “public education” have made a frightening suggestion: They’ve argued that public debate over school choice should be entirely halted.

Dr. Paul Krohne, director of the S.C. Schools Boards Association and Dr. Jim Rex, state superintendent of schools, have called the discussion of educational choices “expensive,” “distracting” and even “dangerous.”

Their core premise is that one-size-fits-all government schools are a panacea for all that ails the children — and communities — of South Carolina. Rather than defend and explain this questionable position, they try to squelch public debate.

This tactic is absurd and alarmingly undemocratic. It indicates an esteem of the system over the individual students and families those schools were opened to serve.
Continue reading

Sun News: Education decisions disappoint

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Columnist Issac Bailey of the Sun News editorializes on School Choice in South Carolina and Washington DC (5/16).

Education decisions disappoint

I haven’t decided whether I’m more disappointed in Gov. Mark Sanford or President Obama.

First Sanford.

In the latest school choice debate, the governor seemed all but silent. He felt it more important to hammer home his principles about limited government and tax cuts in the fight over a stimulus package he could not stop. The $700 million he has some control over may be wrestled away by the General Assembly, which passed a budget that included the stimulus money. That means a court fight is likely, one Sanford stands a good chance of losing.

Without that money, the state expects an additional 500 teachers to lose their jobs on top of 1,000 others that probably can’t be saved.

Sanford tried to use his leverage to force needed reform in state government, but he forgot one of the most important reforms, that of our educational system.

His “Put Parents First” bill of a few years ago wasn’t perfect, but it pushed the school choice debate onto the front page in a state slow to change. It would not have gotten that far without Sanford’s visible support. I like vouchers more than the tax credits he initially pushed. Still, because of his advocacy for choice, reform within the public school system happened more rapidly.

The charter school system is more robust, and the “public school choice” bill Superintendent of Education Jim Rex seems to be successfully ushering through the Statehouse probably would not have occurred at all had there not been a real school choice movement. Continue reading

P&C: Keep pushing school choice

South Carolina School Choice Post and Courier
School Choice will enhance educational opportunities for our state’s children.

An editorial published in the Charleston Post and Courier (5/18):

Keep pushing school choice

Last week, the S.C. Senate Education Committee effectively killed legislation that could have given some poor children stuck in long-struggling public schools a private-school alternative. The bill’s opponents may have again prevailed in the political arena, but they have only slowed the momentum for school choice in South Carolina.

Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, had long opposed including private schools in educational-choice programs. But citing the needs of low-income children in low-performing schools, he introduced that bill to deliver expanded choice through tax credits, for parents paying tuition and businesses providing scholarships.

Foes of his bill argue that private schools lack accountability because they aren’t bound by regulations governing public schools. They overlook the ultimate accountability that parents exert on private schools.

The bill’s foes also point out that many communities in our state lack private schools, which means that not every child now in a poorly performing public school would have the chance to transfer to a private school. By that flawed logic, we should deprive all children of that option as long as practical obstacles block any child from it.

As for funding objections, keep in mind that Sen. Ford’s bill provided tax credits, not direct state money. Keep in mind, too, that the proposal was designed to maximize assistance to low-income and disabled children, in part through tax credits for businesses that supply scholarships to families who otherwise couldn’t afford private-school tuition.

Tax credits and scholarships for private-school tuition wouldn’t solve all of our educational problems. They would, however, enhance educational opportunities for our state’s children. Increased choice within public schools would be welcome, too. But a bill to do that, backed by state Education Superintendent Jim Rex, apparently is stalled in the General Assembly, too.

Despite Sen. Ford’s inability to get his tax-credit bill passed this year, he deserves credit for bravely going against his party’s tide. He also deserves credit for his resolve to try it again next year. As Sen. Ford told an audience at a local church recently, “Eventually, we’re going to do it, and it’s going to help some kids.”

And if we can help more children get a better education, we’ll help our state to forge a better future.