By FITSNews || Despite record funding increases for “education,” South Carolina’s high school dropout rate continues to climb – a trend that is particularly pronounced among minority and low income students.
According to the latest “Diplomas Count” report – released on Wednesday by Education Week – just 55 percent of South Carolina high school students graduate on time. That’s the third-lowest rate in the nation – and well below the national average of 69 percent. Also, only 45 percent of African-American students and 39 percent of Hispanic students in South Carolina graduate on time, according to the report.
The “Diplomas Count” study tracked the progress of the class of 2006-07, the most recent year for which complete data is available. Total funding for public schools totaled $8.9 billion that year – a figure that jumped to $9.5 billion last year.
“The system is obviously broken,” said Randy Page, President of South Carolinians for Responsible Government (SCRG), a group pushing universal parental choice and other education reforms. “Public schools in South Carolina spend $9 billion a year and do little more than replicate the shameful black/white, poor/rich, and rural/urban divides that already plague our state.”
Page is right.
South Carolina’s overall graduation rate remains among the worst in the nation – which is consistent with our state’s declining SAT and ACT scores. Also, South Carolina’s rural graduation rate ranks dead last in the country.
Sadly, with the exception of pouring more money down the sinkhole, the only solution policymakers have come up with to turn things around is to dumb down our state-administered test scores to make it look like more students are passing.
No wonder S.C. Superintendent of Education Jim Rex – the most recent architect of this failure – was so thoroughly throttled in his bid to become governor earlier this week.
Clearly South Carolina’s approach of more money and government-driven “accountability” isn’t working. It’s frankly past time to implement real reforms – like universal choice, streamlined funding, merit-based pay raises for teachers and diagnostic testing that gives them the tools they need to better do their jobs.
Also, we need an online checkbook for our public schools that allows taxpayers to track every expense right down to the last dime.