By FITSNews || Contrary to the claims of S.C. Superintendent of Education Jim Rex and the pencil-pushers who comprise the Palmetto state’s failed education establishment, South Carolina public schools will receive a record $11,372 per student during the fiscal year that began last week.  That’s according to figures included in the S.C. General Assembly’s FY 2010-11 state budget, which went into effect on July 1.

To view the numbers for yourself, click here.

Obviously, that $11,372 does not include money in reserve accounts or cash raised from local bond referendums.  Add those funding streams to the mix and you’re looking at well over $13,000 spent on public education in South Carolina – per year, per child.  In fact, according to the latest data released by the S.C. Department of Education, per pupil spending increased last year to a record $13,880.  Total spending also jumped to a record $9.5 billion.

As you can see in this post from our friends at The Voice, funding levels aren’t the same for every district.  In fact, per pupil funding is as low as $7,231 (Dillon County School District 3) and as high as $19,539 (McCormick County).  It’s all part of South Carolina’s fragmented, inefficient and bureaucratically-driven funding formula, which continues to cry out for reform as only half of each dollar provided by taxpayers actually makes its way into the classroom.

To his credit, S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford proposed a major funding overhaul aimed at addressing these problems during his 2002 campaign – although he was never able to get it passed through the state legislature.  Recent efforts to tie education funding more directly to the student have also failed.

Rex and his educrat army have been bemoaning mythical cuts to their budgets for years, although a review of the funding breakdown over the last six years shows steady increases – even at a time when families and businesses are being forced to cut their budgets.

What have South Carolina parents and taxpayers received for this massive investment?

Record failure.

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.  Things aren’t getting better, either.  South Carolina’s overall graduation rate has improved by a meager 1.5 percent over the last decade.  That’s one of the worst percentage improvements in the entire country, and stands in stark contrast to the “perpetual progress” cited by Rex and other educrats.

Of course in an effort to hide these miserable outcomes from parents, educrats have been working hard to dumb down the state’s costly and inefficient academic assessments – which constitute the bureaucratic definition of “accountability.”

So … what should be done to pull our state out of the cellar?

Well, in addition to universal parental choice, we laid out a series of proposed reforms in our recent endorsement of Republican Mick Zais for State Superintendent of Education.  Zais obviously wasn’t our first pick for the GOP nomination, but he represents an infinitely better choice than Democratic candidate Frank Hollemon – who would do nothing but continue the same failed approaches of the last decade for another four years.

At the end of the day, though, it’s up to the S.C. legislature to pass the long-overdue choice, funding and accountability reforms that this state desperately needs if it ever wants to start fulfilling its obligation to future generations of students.

Let’s hope they do so before another generation is lost …