Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Pippi Wrongstockings

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.


Blogger The Body Politic - Joshua Gross said...

Thanks for the defense! Hopefully they'll actually be willing to print our response to their irresponsible attack...

3:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I you're going to make the "school choice" argument, you would need to show that private schools are superior academically to public ones. Where is the evidence? I would be interested in seeing a comparison of SAT scores and dropout rates between public and private school kids of comparable socio-economic status. Also, since we are comparing SC's public schools with those of other states, how do our private schools compare in instructional quality with private schools in other states? If you could give some stats on the above questions, the argument for school choice might carry more weight.

5:00 PM

Blogger Earl Capps said...

I don't always agree with the SCRG, their tactics, or the candidates they support, but they are restoring competition to the political game in ways we haven't seen since the GOP surge in the late 80s and early 90s.

For a number of years, we saw a lot of power collected in a few points, such as party caucuses, and the fundraising, most by incumbents, skyrocketing.

For years, the day anyone filed against an incumbent, legislative caucuses would immediately pour 5-10K into the race right away. The poor challengers would be swamped from the outset of their candidacies.

Now we have new players at the table wno don't always take orders, they are clear about their agenda, nor do they try to fit in. But they're raising money, supporting candidates, and promoting issues.

How is THAT a bad thing? In this one-party state, it's the closest thing to real competition we've had in years.

Is a little competition a bad thing ... especially among the free-market Republicans who say they believe in competition?

I know, I know ... such subversive talk will surely get me a room in the gulag ...

11:04 PM

Anonymous Karen Floyd sez said...

thnaks for publishing my white paper FITS...oh, and when you let everyone regardless of grades, class rank, smarts take the SAT as many times as they like, your scores are gonna suck...but don't tell anybody that..that way our little argument gains traction. Thanks again...off to dismantle public eduaction...cheerio !

1:13 PM


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