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Last spring, we published a list of the 100 worst public schools in America as evaluated by NeighborhoodScout.com. At the time of that report, South Carolina was home to thirty-seven of the nation’s 100 worst schools – a figure we thought was pretty much the epitome of an “epic fail.”

Well guess what … the Palmetto State not only exceeded that atrocious tally this year, it nearly doubled it. According to the latest NeighborhoodScout.com list, a whopping seventy-two of the 100 worst public schools in America are located in South Carolina.

That’s right … nearly three-quarters of the nation’s poorest performing public schools are located within our state’s borders.

It’s a great day in South Carolina,” right?

(To view the list of schools, click here. To view the website’s methodology, click here).

NeighborhoodScout.com boasts that its patent-pending rankings – which are based on a combination of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data – permit users to “directly compare the quality of schools in any location.”

Sadly, this website’s findings aren’t surprising when you consider how South Carolina stacks up against the rest of the nation academically.

Last month it was revealed that 76 percent of South Carolina public schools (831 out of 1,037) failed to make adequate yearly progress during the 2010-11 academic year (compared to 48 percent nationally). This abysmal performance is consistent with South Carolina’s plummeting SAT scores and atrocious graduation rate.

While the state’s educrat establishment blames so-called “budget cuts” for the deteriorating performance, taxpayers are actually shelling out a record $11,754 per child on public “education” during the current fiscal year – not counting income from local bond revenue, investments, and transfers between funds and government agencies.

This mountain of new money comes on top of back-to-back years of record education funding (click here and here for those totals). Not only that, school districts are ripping off even more money from local businesses thanks to an ill-advised 2006 “tax swap …” even as they’ve squirreled away more than $760 million into their “reserve” accounts.

That’s a lot of money to keep pouring into a system that keeps getting worse.

Last spring, lawmakers once again had an opportunity to pass real academic reform … but balked.

Thanks to sixteen “Republicans,” the S.C. House of Representatives refused to even consider a universal parental choice bill that would have provided options for all students while subjecting our dumbed down public schools to some real accountability for a change – the accountability of the marketplace.

(To read more about this legislation, click here).

South Carolina will have another opportunity this year to dramatically enhance its academic achievement while simultaneously saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each year – concepts which, not surprisingly, are in keeping with the Republican platform that Gov. Nikki Haley and the rest of the state’s GOP establishment campaigned on.

Parental choice has proven successful at raising achievement levels everywhere it has been implemented. No wonder Oklahoma and Indiana  implemented new parental choice programs last year, while leaders in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are moving to expand successful programs in those states.

It’s time South Carolina followed suit … or else pretty soon every single one of the nation’s 100 worst public schools will be located in our state.

NEIGHBORHOOD SCOUT RANKINGS

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