Dropout Nation? SC Would Kill for 30% Dropout Rate
FITS is still smarting just a bit after receiving a mild "smack back" yesterday by none other than the Queen of the S.C. Blogosphere herself, Laurin P. Manning.
Turns out Laurin is a big fan of one Molly M. Spearman, a former Inez Tenenbaum Deputy Superintendent, current Bob Staton campaign contributor and one of the leading opponents of school choice from her lofty perch atop the S.C. Association of School Administrators (SCASA).
Now there's nothing at all wrong with Miss Manning standing up and defending her role model. Truth be told, we couldn't agree with her more. Molly is indeed an incredibly smart, successful woman and a great role model for countless young women looking to get into politics.
All we wanted to point out was that Mr. Staton - who took cash from a pretty wide swath of status quo, anti-choice educrats - also took cash from Ms. Spearman, and then let you decide for yourself what that means for a candidate who brands himself as a "Republican."
And what's wrong with that? Also, nothing.
Mr. Staton and Ms. Spearman have every right to be passionate about defending a system that traps 100,000-plus South Carolina kids in failing or below average schools every year, just as actual Republicans like Superintendent candidate Karen Floyd and Gov. Mark Sanford have every right to be passionate about forcing changes to that failed status quo.
That's probably why every one of them either was, is or wants to be in a position to do something on the issue.
But moving past all the political clatter, let's not forget the real stakes for South Carolina, which were capably reinforced on the cover of this week's TIME Magazine (above).
As it so often turns out, what the rest of the country sees as a national crisis (a 30% dropout rate), we here in South Carolina could only hope for as a vast improvement on the status quo.
That's because a 30% dropout rate would mean roughly 1 out of every 3 school kids (instead of 1 out of every 2) wasn't graduating, which - as sad as that is - would be progress for little ole last-in-the-nation South Carolina.
Of course, our state is used to celebrating mediocrity, as when Ms. Spearman and others at the Department of Education joked about having to "peel themselves off the ceiling" when South Carolina briefly jumped from 50th to 49th one year in SAT scores (only to reclaim the cellar ranking the very next year, which it has held ever since).
See, what Ms. Spearman and others in the rabid anti-school choice movement will never tell you is that Sanford, Floyd and others committed to expanding school choice in South Carolina are actually trying to help our public schools, not "subsidize K-12 private, religious or home schools with public funds," as Ms. Spearman's SCASA website insists.
Why else would Sanford have increased K-12 funding in every Executive Budget since he's been elected, proposed across-the-board teacher pay raises as well as additional merit-based pay raises, tried to streamline our state's disjointed funding mechanism so that more money actually got to the classroom or championed a new government program (yes, liberals, you read that correctly) when the 14-school, 250-student "Jobs for South Carolina Graduates" pilot program was launched through our State Department of Commerce?
Now, does that really sound like an enemy of public education to you?
But to hear Ms. Spearman and other status-quo backers tell it, your governor, Ms. Floyd and anybody who even dares to 'think' the words "voucher" or "tax credit" positively hate public education and want to destroy it, this despite the fact that vouchers and tax credits have improved academic performance and lowered dropout rates at public schools in every market in which they've been implemented.
So yes, Laurin. Molly Spearman is a remarkable woman and a great role model.
She's just dead wrong on this issue.