Monday, June 01, 2009

Trashing public education and offering snake oil solutions

It is increasingly clear that the Education Opportunity Act was shelved for next year so it can be a political weapon against Republican legislative candidates in the 2010 primaries. An example of how that situation is going to play out was given by the Voice for School Choice blog recently. VSC lamented about the low literacy rates in Charleston public schools, but offered a glimmer of hope that would be reversed with the targeted private school tuition tax credits offered in Education Opportunity Act. (Chances are that those folks and their comrades would tell you the heat and humidity next summer in Charleston will not be as bad if the Education Opportunity Act passes.)

Never before in the history of South Carolina has a political faction been so hell bent on attacking public education and those who work within it. While there are reforms needed, and there is the occasional egotistical teacher or administrator who does not live in the real world, by and large the people who work in public education are not stupid, evil people striving to corrupt children. Instead, they work hard at their jobs, raise their families, are active in their churches and charities, and are good neighbors and friends, even to those who rail against their profession. Only in the well paid for climate created by the Sanford/Rich movement do smart people who chose to forego big money and use their talent to teach children get caste as corrupt, evil, incompetent, etc.

Such contempt by the Sanford/Rich crowd goes beyond typical party or conservative versus liberal politics. Take Governor Sarah Palin for example, she accepted the education money for Alaska in the federal stimulus but declined the money on energy issues, because she correctly saw the strings attached to such money requiring states and localities to comply to federal building codes as amended by the Obama Administration as a violation of states ‘ rights. I suppose Sanford sees Palin as a RINO. It is interesting that Sanford had no problem taking that portion of the stimulus money with those strings attached. It was the public education money that made Sanford lawyer up and hit the talk shows. Burdening South Carolina with federal building codes was not on his mind.

Maybe Mark Sanford really believes that public schools are evil places that no child should be exposed to. I tried to convince my parents of that in the first grade. Of course, I felt the same way about private schools as well at the time. Like a child throwing a fit, Sanford and his well paid cohorts are lashing out over not getting their way.

The hard truth is we are stuck with paying for those students who have no paid voice in the tuition tax credit debate. We all live in the same place. While parents have responsibility, eventually, if public education opportunities and chances are not offered to the least among us, we end up paying more in the long run. No tax credit or voucher can fix that. If a big government program, like the Educational Opportunity Act, stepped in and even did what it promised, giving every parent a chance to pull their kids from “failing” public schools, all that would be left is students who would fail at a higher rate. So be it, some will say. Well, unfortunately, that big government program would lead to more big government spending, as we the people would have to pay more for social programs, law enforcement and jails to deal with those failing students as they become failed adults.

If corporations followed the measures suggested in the Education Opportunity Act and donated to private school scholarship funds to avoid paying general state taxes, then the state would be faced with devastated public schools in bad areas producing social costs and less revenue to deal with those social costs. Such is typically the case when someone advocates a big government program that seems to be a panacea for all the problems of a major issue like education. As with other such programs over the years, big money clouds the thinking of so many.

It is amazing how being conservative now in South Carolina is to be for a big government give away and for less fiscal responsibility. It is the situation we get when politicians stop thinking for themselves and instead strike a balancing act between what their donors want and what their highly paid handlers tell them sounds good. The result is in South Carolina, the constant attack on public education, with no real solutions offered, just the snake oil, I mean, the Education Opportunity Act. Like the folks who buy the snake oil to heal an ailment, we the taxpayers will eventually have to pay for the real cure after we have paid the snake oil salesman.


  1. AnonymousJune 02, 2009


  2. AnonymousJune 02, 2009

    Well said.

  3. AnonymousJune 02, 2009

    do you even bother doing any research? have you looked at fiscal impact statements detailing revenue in states where these measures have past? have you looked at per student expenditures in those cases? clearly not, you would know that public school spending went up on a per pupil basis in the public system and spending liabilities decreased at a greater rate than the dip in tax revenue. you ought to do your homework before you write these rants.
    as for defending such low levels of literacy, i guess you dont mind having a small pool of possible readers!

  4. Clear and accurate statement of the problems created by private school vouchers. Thank you.

  5. AnonymousJune 02, 2009

    I am a public school teacher and have been for over 20 years. You, sir, have hit the nail on the head. Governor Sanford needs to reevaluate his position. Governor Palin accurately assessed the threat against her state and took aggressive positive measures to maintain Alaskan sovreignty. Sanford and Rich need to realize that they have been found out and that organizations are moving against them. PSTA (the Palmetto Teachers Association) is one of those groups. You CANNOT give private schools public money. Period.

  6. AnonymousJune 03, 2009

    The problem with public schools is not the teachers. The funding that is currently provided is not the issue either. Throwing money at the schools has solved nothing. The problem is no child left behind and the fact that teachers are forced to teach to a test and not for the sake of learning.

    Before we moved to SC, I had my daughter in a private school. She was too young to start K5 in public school by the month born rules. In the private school, she learned to write in cursive and many other interesting things. When we moved here, I put her in 1st grade. At that time she was reading on a 2nd to 3rd grade level. The school tried to put her back in K5. Then, the teachers would not let her practice the skills that she had already learned because no one else was going to learn them until 3rd grade.

    In second grade, she was at the top of her class. She maxed out reading/comprehension tests. However, the teacher did not have time to give her specialized work to meet her educational needs. She started getting left behind and started hating schools.

    This is the problem with schools in SC. They are a on size fits all model. The kids that are not up to grade level get left behind because they are pushed through. The kids that are really smart get ignored because teachers must focus all their time on the kids who are far behind.

    We ended up pulling her from public school because they could not keep up with her and she is not emotionally ready to be two years ahead in school. This is why school choice is needed in SC. Not only to help the underprivileged, but to allow parents to meet the individual needs of their children.

    By the way, my husband is a public school teacher. He wassn't a big fan of pulling her out the first year we were here. Because of that, we left her in public another year and tried to get the school to address her learning needs. It didn't work and my previously skeptical hubby decided it was time to pull her.

  7. English BobJune 03, 2009

    Don't ask me to pay for your choice of private education. What's next? A tax credit to build private roads and have private police and fire services?

    If you choose to hire private security for your home instead of relying on the police services, you should not get a tax credit for that. The same is true with choosing private education services.

    It is incredible how narrow and selfish some Americans are. It is all about "their" children and "their" choices. It is bloody incredible.

  8. Anon #3. I take issue with your comments. Where are these stats from you quote?

    This post by McCarty was a rant? Please. McCarty did not suggest that people be happy with the low numbers in Charleston, he simply pointed out how your well paid for position will not solve the problem.

    You still did not address teachers and how they have been abused by your side.

    I had some really good teachers in the public schools. I make a good living. I dare say probably better than what you make. My parents did not have to send me to private school for me to "make it."

    I worked hard and learned on my own as I had to. I did not wait for some government program to make it better. I made it better. I took control of my own life. My parents taught me that. We did not sit around pissing and moaning about getting government assistance for a private school.

    I guess you and yours look down on me, even if I make more money than you do. I am a product of the public schools and my own hard work.

    If a poor boy from Gaffney can make it, anyone else can. Stop bitching and moaning and asking for a handout and just make your life better.

  9. Anon #5, we all think our own children are special. The truth is they are not. They grow up and they have to live in the big bad world. I would kill for my daughter, but I have the sense to know I am not the only guy who feels that way.

    If you want to pay for your child to go to private school, fine. Like Bob said, don't ask me to pay for it.

    I hated school when I was little. I hated my professors at Clemson. You know what, my parents told me to suck it up and live in the real world.

    That was the best advice. I did not sit around waiting for government to help me or anyone else. I got off my ass and made something of myself. I have a low tolerance for people who think they have to have the tuition tax credit money for their child to make it in life. That is so weak. Get off your asses and get your kids off their asses and do not sit around waiting for the handout.

  10. AnonymousJune 04, 2009

    I'm not asking that you pay for my child's schooling. However, the government is asking that I give more of my tax money to pay for failing public schools. Why can't I choose where to send my tax money when it comes to educating my child? If SC (and the US in general) would pull back from this test driven education system that has taken over, then a good portion of the problems would disappear.

    In addition to that, the good ol' boy system is keeping bad teachers in the schools. That along with wasteful spending on the part of school boards is not allowing our children to get the full benefit of the money that is sent. Those issues are not just SC issues. They are prevalent in the majority of public schools.

    Has throwing money at the schools improved anything? I see no improvement here.