We have to hand it to South Carolina state representative Neal Collins. Despite consistently voting for bigger government and pushing the progressive envelope on other issues, he keeps getting reelected in one of the more conservative regions of the bright red Palmetto State.
Specifically, voters in S.C. House District 5 (map) have seen fit to send Collins to Columbia in three consecutive election cycles. And in each of those years – 2014, 2016 and 2018 – he defeated more conservative opponents in Republican primary races (including a runoff election victory last spring).
Pretty amazing for a guy who votes like U.S. senatorSusan Collins …
Or for that matter, like U.S. senator Lindsey Graham – who also hails from the conservative South Carolina Upstate.
Anyway, Collins (Neal) is once again drawing heat from GOP base voters for his decision to host the left-leaning Red For Ed movement at an upcoming town hall meeting in his district.
Seems he believes the Upstate is in need of more liberal propaganda.
“This year, I will be hosting the grassroots teachers’ organization, SC for Ed, (which) rallied a reported 10,000 people to the State House in May,” Collins wrote in announcing his town hall, which is scheduled for July 25, 2019.
The Red for Ed rally – which demanded ten percent pay hikes for all South Carolina teachers, regardless of their performance – prompted school districts to cancel classes for more than 123,000 students last month.
State lawmakers declined to approve the ten percent raises, although the budget set to take effect on July 1 spends a whopping $14,227 per student in the coming fiscal year (2019-2020) – a 5.7 percent increase over the current fiscal year’s spending levels.
This sum – which does not include revenue from local bond issues (adding another $2,000-$3,000 per student, per year) – includes pay raises of anywhere from 4 percent to 9 percent for teachers in government schools.
Will any of that new money improve the Palmetto State’s worst-in-the-nation government-run school system? Of course not … because lawmakers have been air-gunning cash into these results-challenged failure factories for decades, with nothing to show for it but more expensive failure.
The process has now become self-perpetuating … and sadly, not unique.
In addition to more recurring funding, districts are also benefitting from swollen reserve accounts. Back in February, this news outlet published data obtained from the S.C. State Board of Education showing that school districts ended the fiscal year 2017-2018 last June with a whopping $1.34 billion in unrestricted cash reserves – up from $944.2 million at the end of fiscal year 2015-2016.
That’s an astounding $400 million (or 42.3 percent) increase – in the span of just two budget cycles.
Our view? Unless Collins and his Red for Ed buddies can explain how air-gunning even more cash into this system will improve outcomes for South Carolina students … then they are just wasting the time of anyone attending this town hall.
Speaking of … how do we improve these outcomes? Easy: Choice. Competition. The power of the marketplace.
Sadly, as we have often noted, all our state’s politicians have done for decades is pay lip service to real reform while throwing billions of dollars in new money into the same demonstrably failed structures. Even limited government “champions” like former U.S. senator Jim DeMint have abandoned the quest for real reform and embraced ineffectual half-measures.
This same charade happens every year in the Palmetto State – choking off real choices (and real accountability) in the academic marketplace while incentivizing the ongoing corrosion of our “public schools.”
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