Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What a disappointing education debate

South Carolina ETV and The State newspaper sponsored a debate Monday evening between the two major party candidates for Superintendent of Education. The Republican, Karen Floyd and the Democrat, Jim Rex both were disappointing.

Floyd appeared far too slick for my liking. When asked point blank about tax credits for private school tuition, she fudged and went on and on about "choices." Floyd was given a point blank opportunity to say yes or no to tax credits and offer a clear reason why she would support such. Instead she tap danced like a typical politician.

Further, she had cute words for privitizing some education department services, calling it a program calling for "diverse providers."

If you are a conservative and you believe that Karen Floyd is a champion of the more conservative viewpoint on education, this debate should serve as an eye-opener. Time after time, Floyd refused to speak with candor and offer direct reasons for the conservative approach. Even when asked point blank, she stuck to her fuzzy talk. Floyd simply lacked the candor that Governor Sanford has on such issues.

What makes Floyd's performance all the more puzzling is that she has been backed by a national effort to see things like tax credits for private school tuition come into being. When pressed about those campaign contributions, instead of defending the point of view that those contributions are supposedly for, Floyd droned on about Congressman John Spratt's out of state contributions.

If one was looking for someone to carry the private school tuition tax credit issue to a full debate, one was left disappointed by Floyd.

Rex was no better. A product of the education administration bureaucracy he offered more bureaucracy as the solution to some of the state's education woes. To his credit, though, Rex was at least clear about where he stood.

Both candidates ignored the issue that I believe is the biggest cause for lack of achievement in education in South Carolina: the culture of failure in some areas of our state. No amount of money, however directed can fix the problem as long as children are not encouraged to succeed in the classroom by the people around them. To me, as long as that culture of failure continues, the state can spend money on tax credits, new buildings, whatever else, and our performance will still lag behind.

There is one thing to both candidates' credit. They both seem to support the Governor's idea of more equitable public school funding throughout the state. But, again, without the culture change, that will have marginal benefits.

Again, it was a disappointing debate. It pitted a champion of the status quo against a Republican who seemed unwilling to clearly articulate the conservative approach.

Mrs. Floyd said repeatedly that she "had answered the question but not in the way you liked." The "you" she referred to was interchangeable between the moderators and her opponent. By the end of the debate, I included myself in that interchangeable pronoun. I did not like her answers. Just once it would have been refreshing if Floyd would have stated, " yes, I support tuition tax credits, and here's why...."

At this point, Libertarian Tim Moultrie is getting my vote.


  1. Just do us all a favor and stop writing your drivel. Floyd is going to win and win big, and yes, some of us are going to remember who was with us and who was not.

  2. Floyd's performance was nothing short of incredible. She handled the assault of Gobiel & Warthen with grace, very substantive on the issues facing SC.

  3. anons, you have drank the kool aid. What I saw was a politician who would not give a straight answer. And, that was disappointing. Why not stand up for the conservative approach clearly? There is nothing to hide from or run from. Why be so slick? The performance would make a Clinton proud, not not a Reagan.

  4. I don't even like Floyd, but she won the debate hands down. She did a nice job of handling Warthens usual petty attacks. I am personally writing in somebody in this race because Rex is Mr. Status Quo and I simply don't like Floyd, but Floyd is more intelligent and more forward-thinking than Rex.

  5. Ms. Floyd is not "slick", she is "sharp" and she has the intellectual acumen to lead this state to real educational reform. She is clear on the issues, and supports the concept of Educational Options/Choice. Her performance was brilliant, and she was substantive on the issues. I support her, because she has reached out to diverse groups in our state. See you at the victory celebration on November 7th. Dr. Taliaferro

  6. Thanks Dr. Taliaferro, now go next door to South Carolinians for Responsible Government and pick up your check.

  7. brian, I'm still weighing this one. Despite Floyd's slickness (has Rainey asked her to promise not to run against his investment in Lindsey), Tim Moultrie is also from the education system. Floyd will carry major party clout in cleaning out the nest of vipers in esteblished educratic fiefdoms, being niether D nor R, Moultrie seems as likely to have both sides trying to undermine his programs as the left has sought to undermine "No Child Left Behind" by their elected interpretations and tap dances about its requirements for local districts.

    The greatest shame IMHO is Moultries exculsion from the debates.

  8. West-rhino, the two major party candidates wouldn't have agreed to the televised debate if Moultrie had been included. Moultrie would have mopped the floor with them, if he had been allowed to participate. Information is available on his website: http://www.SuperEd.org

  9. I agree that not having Moultrie in the debates is unfortunate. The man really talks about some of the hard issues Rex and Floyd poo poo over.

    But, let me be clear, until the culture is changed, we will not have the performance we desire. It will take a cultural shift, and that is hard work. Something politicians like Floyd and Rex just do not want to do.

  10. i'm surprised karen could take time off from her incessant fundraisers for this event. God knows I get pummeled with email invites to a ton of fundraising events. I get more from her than all the other statewide candidates (including the Repubs for Rex some joker signed me up for!) combined.

    But ask her to come to an event with no fundraising and the silence is deafening.

  11. anonymous: you do not need you to "thank me" for anything. I have never received a "penney" from SCRG and I do not know what you mean "go next door and pick up your check". I have my own consulting company entitled Pro-Ed Consultants and have been doing consulting work for years. I have never had a contract with SCRG, and can prove it. I respect Mr. Page and his group, because they support Educational Choice/School Choice. A concept that I firmly believe will create real educational reform in our state. If, the District of Columbia, who had some of the lowest academic scores in the nation, could enact School Choice legislation with bi-partisian support, then why can we at least try the concept in South Carolina. Dr. Taliaferro

  12. Thanks Brian...I'm glad you've written about this, and perhaps you've ripped the blinders off a few voters. I'm no politico, but I can tell you after all the Karen Floyd hype, I was greatly disappointed in her performance. Many of the "outside the beltway" folks I've talked to aren't crazy about either one, but will vote Rex. Floyd was just too saccharine and scripted.