“Schools should be cathedrals,” Sam Seaborn once said.
Well many if not most of them are – even in a dirt poor state like South Carolina. That’s especially true in Spartanburg County, S.C., where bureaucratic needs have consistently outweighed the needs of children in the classroom – and schools stand as monuments to taxpayer-funded excess.
Has all this money (and concrete) improved academic achievement? Of course not. But then again it’s been spent on all sorts of non-academic nonsense … like “Best Singer in the District” competitions. Oh, and putting greens at private clubs (no really … that happened).
Now one of the county’s seven school districts (that’s right … this county has seven different local education bureaucracies) is pushing for the construction of a new $128 million high school. Oh, and a $57 million renovation project for an existing high school.
They’re pushing for these costly new projects despite the fact that the school in question – Spartanburg High – has been experiencing declining enrollment for years. And despite the fact that the proposed school (which would take 145 acres off of the local tax rolls) is less than three miles away from a high school in a neighboring district.
Nonetheless local educrats say they need a “21st Century” campus – and have vowed to present voters with a referendum plan next spring.
What happens next?
This referendum (a.k.a. tax hike) will no doubt be championed by local educrats – using taxpayer resources – as well as campaign organizations subsidized by the special interests that stand to profit off of the new school’s construction. And of course the liberal local media will lend its microphone – editorially and in its reporting – in support of the expenditures.
Yeah. We’ve been to this puppet show before … and seen the strings.
Here’s the thing, though: It doesn’t work.
Children in South Carolina don’t need gleaming, expensive new buildings or more money for government programs or bureaucratic “accountability.”
We’ve tried all that before. And again, it doesn’t work.
What do they need? Choices … and the market pressures that come with them.
In fact even the state’s uber-liberal Supreme Court acknowledged in its controversial “minimally adequate” ruling last fall that more government spending “fails to provide students with the opportunity to obtain a minimally adequate education,” and that in the Palmetto State “the evidence demonstrates that there is a clear disconnect between spending and results.”
Building more taxpayer-funded “cathedrals” isn’t the answer. It’s never been the answer.
The answer is more academic freedom.