They own the local politicians … that much we already knew. Now the sprawling educrat establishment in Spartanburg, S.C. is getting some love from the city’s “conservative” mainstream media.
Once among the state’s most forward-thinking editorial boards, the opinion-makers at The Spartanburg Herald-Journal are now inexplicably ripping into a market-based parental choice plan, arguing that state lawmakers have an obligation to “improve public schools” before making private or parochial alternatives more affordable for parents.
(You can read the paper’s nonsensical editorial here).
We always assumed that the editorial board at the SHJ was far too principled to bend to the liberal views of its corporate parent (The New York Times) … but it appears as though we clearly misjudged them.
For those of you unfamiliar with how public education works – or rather doesn’t work – in Spartanburg, S.C., the county features a whopping seven school districts, each equipped with its own administrative bureaucracy and taxpayer-funded lobbying capability.
In other words we have a case study in government inefficiency in what is supposed to be the most “conservative” part of the state. For all of its “conservative” boasting, though – the sad truth is that Spartanburg is run by this cadre of educrats, who meet behind closed doors (or at their government-funded country club) and dictate what policies its “GOP” lawmakers are to support or oppose.
As a result, Spartanburg’s “Republican” elected officials have become nothing but toadies for the education-industrial complex – not advocates for their students.
State Reps. Rita Allison, Doug Brannon, Derham Cole, Mike Forrester, Steve Parker and Eddie Tallon all had a chance last year to stand up and be counted on behalf of children and parents across this state – but instead every single one of them voted to continue serving their local educrat masters.
In defending these six sellouts, the Herald-Journal conveniently ignores the fact that taxpayers’ investment in public education has soared in this state in recent years – climbing even during the peak of the recession.
Taxpayers are 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.
What has this investment produced? Nothing … well, nothing except a state that’s falling further behind the rest of the nation.
Two months ago, 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.
We do need to improve public education in South Carolina – but that will never happen as long as armies of bureaucrats are in charge of “accountability.”
We need real accountability to do that … the accountability of the marketplace. Oh, and for once this state’s leaders need to stop concerning themselves with the needs of the “public school system” and start focusing instead on the academic needs of individual South Carolina school children.
People in Spartanburg get that … it’s just a shame their leaders don’t.