We here at FITS have always liked The State newspaper's editorial queen Cindi Ross Scoppe.
She's smart, provocative and, like Bob Staton and so many other defenders of the failed status quo, passionately believes that bigger government, higher taxes and still more money for public education is all we need to turn academic achievement around in South Carolina.
She's dead wrong, of course, (which has been proven more conclusively than gravity) but Cindi has always been several cuts above the average public school apologist in the intellectual vigor and adroitness of her arguments.
On top of that, Cindi is just a fun, colorful and genuinely enjoyable lady to be around - whether we're talking about her breezy, cheery personality or the Skittles' rainbow wardrobe selections she employs to brighten up otherwise drab days at the State House.
That's why it was so disheartening to read Ms. Scoppe's most recent article, a blistering attack on the South Carolina Club for Growth and South Carolinians for Responsible Government, a diatribe in the first degree delivered under the guise of a campaign finance reform editorial.
Calling these groups "a cancer," "extremists" and bemoaning their "radical agenda," Ms. Scoppe - in uncharacteristic fashion - set aside her typically high-minded defense of our state's last-in-the-nation public school system, got her multi-colored threads down in the gutter and started throwing cheap, political mud. In doing so, Ms. Scoppe sadly reverted to the same pedestrian brand of tawdry name-calling that she herself has routinely tarred-and-feathered others for engaging in.
Shame on you, Cindi.
Which brings us to the point of our article. Rather than resort to name-calling ourselves (well, now that we've gotten that Pippi Wrongstockings thing out of the way, at any rate), we'd like to ask you a couple of questions - and challenge you to print your responses the same way you printed your recent vitriol against those groups seeking to improve the lot of our state's young people as opposed to perpetuating their underachievement.
1. Is it "cancerous" to support changes to a public school system which, despite doubling per pupil spending, creating a massive new pre-K bureaucracy, raising teacher salaries, spending over a billion on new school construction and doubling the number of $50,000-a-year educrats residing in the Rutledge Building - still ranks dead last in the nation in graduation rates and SAT scores?
2. Is it "radical" to want to provide alternatives for the 130,000 school children currently trapped in failing or below average schools, most of them poor minorities locked into a public education system that currently yields 1 out of 11 African-American students who are proficient in writing, 1 out of 10 in reading and 1 out of 9 in math?
3. Is it "extremist" to embrace reforms boasting countless examples of improving public education by making it more competitive and responsive and zero examples of hurting public schools (in large part because they have additional resources to spend on each individual student)?
In fact, go ahead, Ms. Scoppe, make our day.
Show us one - just one - example of where school choice has NOT improved the public school system in the city or state in which it was implemented and we'll shut up.
We're betting you can't - probably because one doesn't exist.
Editorials like the one penned by Ms. Scoppe this week are the last gasps, the dying hacks, the painful, anguished terminal throes of a status quo finally succombing to the weight of its own decades-old legacy of failure.
The rising tide of loyalty to the educational outcome of each one of our school children - not the bloated, bumbling bureaucracy that pitifully attempts to educate them - is as irreversible as the ongoing rush of time.
You cannot stop school choice Ms. Scoppe, Mr. Staton or Mrs. Tenenbaum, you can only hope to delay it.