Tag Archives: South Carolina

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.

Success of Governor’s School Should Be Replicated

GSSM3 copy

According to a press release sent out by the SC Dept of Education, the SC Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (SCGSSM) has been named by Newsweek to be among the “Top Twenty Elite Public High Schools” in the nation. This is the fourth year in a row that the South Carolina public school has been on the prestigious list.

Every year, hundreds of high school sophomores apply to the school, but only 64 of the best and brightest students are accepted.

For two years, students at the SCGSSM study in a rigorous, academics-focused environment. Needless to say, graduates are well prepared to enter the best colleges and universities. Continue reading

The Opportunity of School Choice

Focus on the student.jpg

Time has come to focus on the student, not the System.

Giving every family in South Carolina access to a quality education for their children is essential to our state’s future.

It also shows that we, as a state, understand that parents have a right –even a responsibility– to make important decisions about their children’s lives.

Through school choice South Carolina can move away from the antiquated, exclusive model of “public or private schools,” and embrace a broader system in which public AND private schools are made available to meet the learning needs of individual students. School Choice means real options for all parents: public and private and charter and magnet and virtual and home school. Continue reading

South Carolina High School Graduation Rates

school choice south carolina

How many children drop out of school in South Carolina?”
“What is the graduation rate in South Carolina high schools?”
“How many students in OUR school district will graduate from high school?…”

(HINT: Scroll down and find out!)

It is hard to get a straight answer when it comes to questions about graduates and dropouts in South Carolina’s public schools.

A recent report indicates that in the senior class of 2008-09, only 42,947 (or 66.3% of those enrolled in 9th grade four years earlier) graduated public high school with an earned diploma. In other words, 1-in-3 students (or 122 pupils each day) dropped out, were held back, or failed to complete the full diploma requirements

Already some in the media are raising questions about the validity of so-called “statewide gains” and the wide disparity between numbers cited by Jim Rex, those reported in the Education Week report, and the figures publicly available on the US Department of Education’s website.

The State Newspaper (6/9) reported:

The on-time graduation rate reported by Education Week and the State Department of Education differ, and there’s no clear consensus on why.

The Anderson Independent Mail (6/9) reported:

…But, those [Education Week] figures are misleading, said Jim Foster, spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Education. The graduation rates in Education Week are estimates that over the years have resulted in disparities from one report to the next, he said.

The Greenwood Today (6/9) reported:

The graduation figures in the Education Week publication, seen as a national standard for K12 education policy and assessment, vary greatly from higher numbers released by the South Carolina State Department of Education.

Attention is also being drawn to that fact that South Carolina has not released district-specific graduation levels since the 2004-05 school year for the federal government’s uniform rankings. In that 2004-05 school year, the statewide graduation rate was 52.23%.

The graduation rate varied from 87% in York District 4 to 29% in Lee County School District.

Thankfully, these figures can be found in Common Core of Data section of the US DOE website.

Below is a district-by-district list of enrollment and diplomas numbers for the South Carolina public high school class of 2005 drawn from the Federally reported data (again, this is the most recent year for which detailed data -not estimates and averages- is available):

SOUTH CAROLINA STATE TOTALS

64,027 (9th Graders enrolled in 2001-2)

38,657 (12th Graders in 2004-5)

33,439 (Diplomas issued in 2004-5)

52.23% (% of 9th graders who graduated in 4 school years)

ABBEVILLE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT

348 (9th Graders enrolled in 2001-2)

Continue reading

School Reform News highlights Choice push in SC

School Reform News School Choice

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

Jim Rex admits some schools are “dropout factories”

South Carolina State Superintendent of Education Dr. Jim Rex admits to the existence of “dropout factories,” which he blames for the state’s shameful 55.6% on-time graduation rate.

Video footage was taken of Rex speaking at Education Department orchestrated “Town Hall meeting” at Greenville’s J.L. Mann High School on May 28, 2009.

Despite the shameful dropout rate, Rex is committed to blocking serious reform being push by parents and educators across the state.

NAACP’s Rev. Darby debates School Choice with National Expert

MorethanMoney

Earlier this year, Senator Robert Ford (D-Charleston) announced his support for School Choice in South Carolina.

Ford made his position crystal clear: South Carolina public schools have persistently failed to properly educate low-income and minority children. A far reaching reform is required, and School Choice offers a way to engage parents and match children with classrooms suited to their needs. As Ford explained: “All of us have been defending the system. It’s time to stop. I’m not pussyfooting with this anymore.”

One of Ford’s most outspoken critics is Reverend Joseph Darby, senior pastor of the AME Morris Brown Church in Charleston, and First Vice President of the Charleston Branch of the NAACP.

Now, national expert on School Choice Andrew Coulson is engaging Rev. Draby in an online debate over the merits of School Choice. The first round of point and counter-point essays are posted on the CATO At Liberty blog.

For those who think the CATO blog is TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read) here is a paragraph-by-paragraph overview of the opening arguments: Continue reading

In their own words: parents fight for School Choice in South Carolina

sunside-shiny-happy-letters-cc

More and more letters from parents in South Carolina who want real school choice

“Give parents options, and they will take them” (LTE, State Newspaper)

State Department of Education spokesman Jim Foster evidently believes low-income South Carolina parents are too dependent on the state to take advantage of the proposed tax-credit program to foster private-school choice. Even if they received a full scholarship, he rhetorically asked your reporter: “How do they get to school? Who pays for their breakfast and lunch? How do they get home in the afternoon? Who pays the additional costs that public schools currently pick up?” (“School choice gets push,” April 20).

That is the sort of paternalistic outlook for which statist bureaucracy is renowned. Here is an alternative: Let the parents have that choice of a good, safe school, and see if they don’t find a way to make the sacrifices to get the kids fed and to school and back.

Having options outside the suffocating embrace of government-controlled education can be liberating.

ROBERT HOLLAND

Myrtle Beach Continue reading

12 South Carolina lawmakers are tax-evaders

Senator W. Greg Ryberg (R-Aiken) dropped a bombshell in the South Carolina Senate today.

He announced that twelve sitting members of the SC General Assembly have failed to properly file and pay their state income taxes. The combined liabilities of just three of the House Members who are negligent exceed $21,000.00

Ryberg explained:

“The idea that any member of the General Assembly would hold the laws of this state in so little regard that they simple ignore them when they find them inconvenient truly offends me.”

Sen. Ryberg, an outspoken advocate of fiscal discipline and efficient use of public money, proceeded to introduce a series of bills that would require legislators and state constitutional officers to pay their taxes or forfeit their public office. Gubernatorial appointees would be held to the same standard. Continue reading

Herald-Journal Editorial Embraces Myths about School Choice

myths

What do all these things have in common? They are all myths.

Tax credits won’t help families. Scholarships won’t help families. Public schools will be cast aside and underfunded. Private schools will quickly become quasi-government institutions.

This is what The Spartanburg Herald Journal predicts will happen if South Carolina lawmakers adopt the SC Education Opportunity Act. The only disasters left out of the Spartanburg paper’s apocalyptic, post-school choice scenario are outright Communist invasion and the Thunderdome.

A quick glance at the thriving school choice programs in other states show these panicked speculations to be just as ludicrous as they sound.
Let’s consider a few of the Herald-Journal’s claims: Continue reading