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New data on regional high school graduation rates has just been released – and not surprisingly the news is absolutely awful for Palmetto State students.

According to the new report by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), South Carolina’s graduation rate ranks 48th in the nation, while its “promoting power” score – or the number of ninth-graders who make it to their senior year – ranks dead last in country.

All told, the report found that only 61% of South Carolina freshman wind up graduating from high school – compared to the national average of 73% and regional average of 72%.

These awful results come despite the fact that South Carolina has poured billion of dollars in new money into its K-12 system over the previous decade and implemented what it calls the “toughest accountability standards” in the nation.  Sadly, none of these “reforms” have improved academic achievement.

Speaking of standards, the SREB study notes that South Carolina failed to report complete graduation rate and dropout data to the U.S. Department of Education – making “apples to apples” comparisons difficult.  Additionally, South Carolina is the only state featured in the study that refuses to release graduation rate data for minority students – which is sad, but not surprising, considering the state’s growing achievement gap.

You hear that, Rep. Bakari Sellers?  Legislative Black Caucus?

Oddly enough, educrats claimed back in June of this year that South Carolina’s graduation rate had soared by double digits, catapulting the state out of the national cellar.  The SREB report debunks that claim, however, showing that the state’s graduation rate has improved by a meager 0.2% from 1996-2006.

Yeah … let that statistic sink in for a moment.

Funding to the public K-12 system has more than doubled since then, and yet the graduation rate has improved by less than a quarter of a percent.

That’s pitiful.

South Carolina’s public school system has seen dramatic increases in funding in recent years – even despite the national recession.  In fact, according to data released by the state a week ago, per pupil funding is at its highest level ever in South Carolina – over $12,000 per child.  That figure is up 4.5% from a year ago, although the vast majority of the increase come from additional “administrative costs,” not teaching-related expenses.

The release of this report also comes at a time when educrats are looking to further dumb down the state’s academic standards due to pressure being brought from well-heeled RINO lobbyists.  According to a report released two weeks ago by the nation’s preeminent assessment evaluators, South Carolina’s new “Palmetto Assessment of State Standards” (PASS) test would “result in dramatic increases in the percentages of students meeting standards in South Carolina schools, even with no actual improvement in student performance.”

Moving the goalposts, in other words.

More money.  Faux accountability. Same pathetic results.

When will it end?  When will South Carolina parents and teachers finally see what’s happening to their children and students here?

“On one hand, South Carolina is spending over $12,000 per child at our public schools, even during the midst of a serious budget crisis – on the other hand, between one third and one half of students fail to graduate from high school,” said Randy Page, President of South Carolinians for Responsible Government, a group that’s promoting more parental choice in South Carolina.

“Parents and taxpayers should be outraged,” Page said. “They need answers, not more excuses.”

Indeed.

FITS will have an additional report on this ongoing generational tragedy in our Monday editions.

For now, feel free to contact the S.C. Ministry of Failure and Non-Competition (a.k.a. the State Department of Education) to voice your thoughts …

WEB EXTRA

SREB “Gaining Ground” Report