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SC Public Schools’ Epic Fail: Mark Sanford’s Fault?




This website has kicked former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford in the teeth on innumerable occasions in the past.  In fact we were among the first to call for his resignation after he got caught lying about his affair with Maria Belen Chapur (now his bride-to-be).

Anyway … as much as we blasted the former governor, one area where Sanford was always pretty consistent was his support for expanded parental choice.  And while he may not have done everything we would have liked him to do on this issue (particularly on the campaign trail), Sanford’s advocacy on behalf of universal choice was infinitely better than the total disinterest shown to the issue by current Gov. Nikki Haley.

Seriously … has Haley even addressed education since she was elected?  Last time we heard her talk at any length on the subject was during her 2010 campaign (and she was moving in the wrong direction at the time).

Anyway … earlier this week our founding editor attended a press conference at the S.C. State House that raised this issue in an interesting context.  The occasion?  The campaign endorsement of status quo supporter John Courson (RINO-Richland) by a pair of liberal Democratic S.C. Senators, Joel Lourie and Darrell Jackson.

During the press conference, Lourie effusively praised Courson for his “unwavering support” of public education – as we predicted he would.  That’s why during the question-and-answer session following the event, our founding editor posed a simple question to the three Senators …

“Over the last decade, what would each of you say your advocacy on behalf of public education has actually done for public education in South Carolina?”

He then rattled off a litany of sad statistics – our plummeting SAT scores, abysmal graduation rate, stagnant NAEP scores and utter failure at achieving adequate yearly progress.

Bear in mind that these three Senators have consistently opposed parental choice – and have succeeded not only in blocking it, but routing record amounts of taxpayer funding into our failed one-size fits all public system.

They’ve won, in other words …

So … what did they have to say for themselves?  And who do they blame for the chronic failure of our public system?

“Mark Sanford,” said Sen. Lourie.

According to Lourie, Sanford’s support of parental choice caused South Carolina to “lose our focus on public education,” thus resulting in the deluge of bad news.

“When Mark Sanford came in here it was attack, attack, attack,” Lourie said, blistering the former governor – and to some extent the current one – for not caring enough about public schools.

“Ask Mark Sanford or Nikki Haley what their plan is for the Corridor,” Lourie said, referencing our state’s I-95 “Corridor of Shame,” a region littered with failing public schools. “Ask them if they’ve even been to the Corridor of Shame.”


“My focus as governor was very simply on students and parents and pushing for reforms aimed at raising academic achievement across the board,” Sanford told FITS.  “Unfortunately the focus of too many in the legislature was on preserving a taxpayer-funded monopoly that has failed – and continues to fail – far too many of those children and their parents. Obviously they won more battles than they lost on that front – which is why we’re where we are today on a host of academic measurements.  It’s also why it’s so curious that they would now try and blame the people whose ideas they refused to adopt.”

Exactly …

Lourie and his colleagues in the “Republican-controlled” S.C. General Assembly have had their way for decades, pumping billions of new dollars into a system that is continues to fall further behind the rest of the nation (which itself is falling further behind the rest of the world). Demonizing those who are trying to change that system is unfortunate – but blaming them for the failure of the system itself is downright absurd.

Mark Sanford has all sorts of flaws – in fact he’s been especially eager to acknowledge them in recent years – but the failure of our public school system is clearly not one of them.

That one is on Lourie and RINOs in the State Senate like Courson, Wes Hayes and Larry Martin.


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