Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Greed: How Failing Public Schools Are Stealing Your Tax Cut

Leave it to South Carolina's last-in-the-nation public school system.

Give them a needle-sized loophole enabling them to waste even more of your tax dollars on a failed, flawed, bloated and monopolistic system, and they'll drive a fleet of Mack Trucks through it.

After all, why bother to actually fix the problem when it's so easy to milk the system and brand anybody who gets in your way as "anti-public education?"

The education bureaucracy in South Carolina - and the 20 public school districts who followed its instruction by arbitrarily and outrageously jacking their 2006-07 budgets this year - are quite simply a cancer on our state.

That's right, a cancer, the medical term for a destructive organism that knows nothing but mindless growth.

Despite the best efforts of leaders like Mark Sanford to hold them truly accountable (at long last), our public schools have ignored the best interests of our state's children for years, putting them second to an ever-expanding bureaucracy, consistently providing them with an abysmal product, stonewalling real reforms like parental choice (which would raise per pupil spending, incidentally) touting bogus accountability half-measures and laughing all the way to the bank as fearful, incompetent and bought-and-paid-for legislators keep doubling their funding every 10 years.

And every year, when our SAT scores and graduation rates come in dead last in the entire country (again), when one out of four schools is rated as failing or below average (again) and when minority students in our state's poorest areas are left even further behind (again), there's always the predictible refrain: "Mo' Money, please."

And we give it to them. Or in the case of these 20 districts seeking an end-around your brand new property tax cut (roughly one-quarter of all districts in South Carolina), they just take it.

Fortunately, a few brave legislators have finally taken the blinders off and wised up to this organized scam.

Today, Sen. Larry Martin, Rep. Thad Viers, Rep. Kenny Bingham and others gathered to call out these 20 districts for a blatant tax grab which, in some cases, will completely negate the impact of the recently-passed Property Tax relief bill.

"What some of these districts have done is take advantage of our willingness to work in good faith by padding (2006-07 budget) increases," Sen. Martin said.

Putting it more succinctly, S.C. Taxpayer Association President Don Weaver said "How pompous can a school board be to cite no real reason to raise millage other than to simly build their base for the future. This isn't for the children; this is for the fat cat administrators to pad their coffers for the future at the expense of the taxpayers."


Predictably, the South Carolina School Boards Association, the driving force behind the massive cash grab, sees it differently.

"Any increases were made following substantial open dialogue," the Association's President Paul Krohne said in a statement.

As if the fact that they're stealing politely makes a difference.

People, it's time to finally call a spade a spade when it comes to these cash-sucking purveyors of perpetual ignorance.

It's also time to stand up and tell them that those of us who support school choice - and SMART funding, merit-based pay raises for teachers, money-saving PACT reform and dozens of other common sense education reforms - don't actually hate public schools, we just hate failure - oh, and the fact that every year, their failure costs us a couple hundred million dollars more to sustain.


Blogger bitingblondewit said...

Okay, but there is a distinction between holding a school (or entire distict/system) accountable and offering concrete solutions to fix the problem.

Does South Carolina offer competetive wages for teachers? Is SC doing enough to address the reality that qualified teachers often cannot afford to stay in the profession and leave, taking with them their experience? How is the funding being spent? Is it going toward infrastructure, ie schools themselves building new ones or remodeling existing ones...or is it being spent to provide students with elective classes that could stimulate a desire to learn? Is SC putting any pressure on parents to step up and become more involved in the system? What quantifiable measures are being taken to improve the situation?

3:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

damn will! and she be smart too!!!!

how a fattie baldhead drunkie like you scores hotties no one will ever figure.

3:12 PM

Blogger faithinsound said...

Our Dear Blondewit,

Welcome back, darlin'. I'm sure our readers will be very pleased to see you - even if you do make us FITS gals just a tidge jealous when it comes to our favorite bad boy Sic Willie.

To answer your questions, teachers in SC make roughly $300 above the Southeastern average and get huge bonuses for national certification, we've spent millions on dozens of different retention programs, allocated roughly $2 billion for new school construction this decade (with more on the way) and erected a massive and inefficienty accountability bureaucracy that has done nothing but accurately demonstrate just how pathetic we are in terms of educating kids.

What quantifiable measures are being taken to improve the situation? Well, as noted, we threw a couple hundred million more dollars into the system this year (again), but did nothing to empower the parents who do want to make a difference with the choices to do so.


3:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


3:22 PM

Blogger SCPolitico said...

Certainly FITS caught The State's print of The Shealy’s slam on pro-choice advocate organizations like SCRG.

Cancer is a very good description for the establishment and the folks (MSM, RINO’s, and so-called Republican consultants) that would standby and allow the status quo to continue. There is a direct link between our last in the nation public education system and the lack of jobs available for all the drop-outs they are producing.

On a positive note, having raised taxes by some 23+% over the last couple of years we should be able to build plenty of prisons in which to house them.

3:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with the public school system in South Carolina is not that it is "stealing" from the tax payers, but that there is not an appropriate checks and balences system to gague where the funing is going. If there is too much funding going to fat cat administrators, then measures need to be taken to guide spending to the students and schools that need the funding. School choice is only a viable option in some locations. The solution can be found in accountability for spending, not in school choice. School choice only works for students who have parents who are educated enough and function at a high enough level to make a smart descision for thier child's education. Unfortunately many parents are not able to do this. Whithout opening a can of worms about parenting skills, the state should offer students quality public education. School choice only solves a very small part of the problem.

3:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't believe the State raised taxes by 23%. Spending perhaps, but taxes did not. I believe it was due to revenue increases of which most if not all should go back to the taxpayers, but to be accurate would be to point out that taxes were not increased.

4:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we are to assume that "school choice", i.e., tax credits and vouchers are the answer to our educational problems, then we must also assume that the alternatives to public schools, private schools, are superior in every fashion. i would just like to see some evidence, other than the fact that they are largely white and middle-class and thus do better on standardized tests, that they are in nfact better than public schools. "Where's the beef?"

7:21 PM

Anonymous JES said...

"teachers in SC make roughly $300 above the Southeastern average"

Does this "average" include administrators (and their larger salaries) also?

11:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm moving to Indiana - oooh, Ms. Indiana! You're TOO hot!

11:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of beef, Sewell, what the hell did Tompkins and the boys do to you for you to hate them so much?

12:13 AM

Blogger The Body Politic - Joshua Gross said...

to the last anon: check out the story on the left side of the front page of today's State newspaper (something I rarely recommend, mind you.):

There's a story there about a newly formed private school catering to low-income kids from difficult backgrounds, kids that the public school system has failed. This private school approach is working, right here in Columbia, focused not on "rich white kids", but on "poor black kids."

School choice can work, and is A MAJOR PART of the solution (I wouldn't want to be charged with calling it a "silver bullet") as it forces the public school system to adapt to competitive pressures the same way any business would have to do.

Kudos to Greenville for not falling for the tax grab last night when so many other districts have.

8:15 AM

Anonymous west_rhino said...

If I had any faith in SAT scores as a barometer, I'd direct one Anon to Crunchy Republican and a brief sampling of relative SAT scores of the district her daughters would have to attend versus the private school they attend. About 200 to 250 points difference if you're willing do dig back.

The difference between the public indoctrination system, charter schools and private schools tends towards the idea that the latter options have to get results or go out of business. The public employment system for education degrees has been a leech that has fed off the juglar vein and become as inertia filled as a 100lb sack of manure, more focused on adminstrating and moving kids through the grades.

Noting new here, I recall the days of freedom of choice, Hand Junior High in Columbia for example had about eight levels in each grade ranging from illiterate to college prep in the top two.

Solutions, we were promised that the US Dept of Education would be abolished years ago, allowing state and local schools to work with block grants as they needed to rather than having to spend the money for Heather Has Two Mommies and GLBT indoctrination. The title IX sports politburo seems another useless cog...

8:17 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it possible that Will or whoever is painting with a pretty broad brush here?

Could it be that there are a number of school districts that ARE offering a good product -- from very strong AP courses to solid vocational/technical programs -- and are worried about losing money to fund those?

Or is that just more than the right-wing hardliners -- and I use that description with respect -- are willing to consider?

I don't doubt that there are wasteful school districts and inefficiencies in the bureacracy, whether on the state or local level. But there are also districts where PUBLICLY ELECTED school boards have kept spending levels high over the years and where the public schools have many positive things to show for it....AP programs that would rival any private school, technical/vocational offerings, small class sizes, strong extra-curricular outlets that help keep some kids interested in school, etc. Is it not possible that some COMMUNITIES in South Carolina have made the choice to spend more on their schools because they value their public schools and that it isn't about "greed" and "incompetance"? And is it possible that, in those cases, it's inappropriate for the state to take local spending control away from such communities?

In any case, it is, indeed, an interesting debate.....and one that is perhaps a great deal less simplistic than the way it portrayed here.

8:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice that the State Chamber was also part of the article bashing the school districts for this tax grab. This is the first time I can ever remember the business community being publicly at odds with the educrats. Now that they see what the educrats are all about, maybe the Chamber will start to actually believe in the concept of free markets and the idea that competition will help improve education.

9:30 AM

Anonymous JES said...

Whether or not a private school provides a better education to a child is an opinion, which, under school choice, would be the opinion of a parent who chooses to pull their child out of a public school for private school or not...

I also do not think you can say private school students score well on the tests simply because the majority of the students are white. Private school parents are taking personal responsibilty for their children's education, and they are investing. Usually when you invest time, energy, and money into something, you work harder to make sure it succeeds. Certainly, there are parents - including African Americans - without the financial means who desire for their children a better education that, maybe in their opinion, would occur at a private school.

Also, the anti-choice crowd is afraid of what choice will do to some of our state's worthless, good-for-nothing teachers. If there's a mass exodus of students attempting to leave a particular school, the heat is on for the principal and, by extention, the teachers. If you can't pass ADEPT without help, if you have no classroom management, if your test scores suck, etc etc then you should be fired. That's what occurs in the real world.

9:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wil-burrrrrrr ....

In a related note, you've got about the sense of the talking horse, and a striking physical resemblance to boot.

SC schools are 46th in per pupil spending. SC is approxiamtely 31st in every meaninful, non-politicized measure of student performance. Bottom line, we get better than we should expect from our public schools.

SC is 47th (trailing Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota)in real tax burden per resident. Our roads and bridges are crumbling, we have a non-existent economic development effort, infrastructure investment is a joke (as is our Governor), state university funding is laughable, and idiots like you rev up the "taxes are too high" simpletons.

Congratualations on your efforts to destroy a potentially great state!

12:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully, Karen Floyd will get elected and reform the system.

6:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

FITS is a paid political hack. We all know it. AKA "Bill Smith" and "Fritz."

Spreading the SCRG compost shows his paper thin understanding of issues facing public education in SC.

Make no mistake. FITS and SCRG have no interest in fixing the problems facing public education.

More to come...

10:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're censoring posts. post it if you have the nerve.

10:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

46th in spending and 31st in achievement? What in the world are you smoking? According to the most recent figures from the NEA, (yep, that's the National Education Association…ie: the very liberal teacher's union) South Carolina ranks 28th in the country in public school spending at $8872 per student.

Even more telling is the FACT that we’re the 3rd highest in the Southeast, spending $700 more per student than Florida and over $2000 more per student than North Carolina and Tennessee – that’s over 30% more per student. And that’s before we’ve added hundreds of million in new dollars to state education spending in the past two budgets.

All of that, and yet we continue to rank at the bottom in SAT scores and graduation rates. Feel free to check it out yourself on page 57 of the NEA’s report, http://www.nea.org/edstats/images/05rankings.pdf. Sure hate it when the actual facts (according to the head educrats) get in the way of another educrat's plea for even more of our money!

Until we get expanded choice and real reform in public education, I can’t imagine a worse place for our relatively poor state to keep dumping more and more of our limited financial resources.

12:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anonymous said...
Wil-burrrrrrr ....

Yeah a few more Lexus automobiles in the teachers parking lot should solve the problems of our education system or lack thereof...

2:56 PM

Blogger faithinsound said...

Dearest Anon-

Censoring posts? Us? Say what you want about FITS but as anybody in the blogosphere will attest, if your dumb ass writes it, we post it. Always have, always will. There is no blog in the state that lets it all hang out (and lets its readers hang it all out) more than this one.

We believe passionately in your right to be stupid, and furthermore, we've always believed that the best thing to do with idiots such as yourself is to continue providing as many opportunities for you to be heard as possible.

Thanks for the "challenge," though, and until next time enjoy your service.


3:18 PM

Blogger The Blue South said...

Have you forgotten that our Democratic legislators attempted to preempt this problem when the property tax reform was in its formative stages. They wanted to bring school funding under a centralized, state-run organization. Unfortunately, that meant that tax dollars from some of the richer counties would go to schools in poorer counties and those richer counties' representatives (e.g. Glenn McConnell) blocked the plan. Meanwhile, your good buddy Sanford did nothing, as usual, except of course to veto bills allowing our school districts to use building funds to pay for operating costs due to budgetary shortfalls.

3:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anon quoting NEA stats:

Oh ye of little brain function!

Your NEA stats are for K-12, and they're also wrong. US Census stats put SC 39th (and dropping like a stone) in K-12 spending.

My numbers are for total public education, including state university systems. And yes, we're 46th. Do the research, add up the numbers.

South Carolinians have a choice. They can listen to the Howard Rich minions (who are lucky to be on Mr. Rich's payroll cause they've failed at every real career endeavor they've ever tried), tell them how over-taxed they are (in the 3rd lowest-taxed state in the US).

Or, they can realize that return follows investment. It is a very simple formula, and it hasn't changed since the very beginning of time. You dig up the earth, you plant the seed, you pull the weeds, you do the hard work, and down the road, the watermelon rises from the earth.

You decide to invest to become excellent, or you bury your coins in the backyard. We bury our coins. We are not excellent.


7:00 PM

Blogger SCPolitico said...


Hate simply distorts reason, while I may not subscribe to the rhetoric of some, let me say that Thomson is a standup guy...and I do not know the rest of TTS to have any comment other than respectful of their collective accomplishments!

10:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

FITS and his evil twin Bill-Fritz at hatethestate must be working overtime at their day jobs over at SCRG. It must take him hours to generate so much ill informed potty mouthed political rhetoric about the issues facing public education in SC. Even his dorky cousin west_rhino chirps in here and there with ignorqant rhetoric. It is clear that he is on the payroll at SCRG or he maybe he just wants to be on the payroll there.

1:00 AM


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