"Something is Off"
Once again, South Carolina ranks either last or next-to-last nationally in SAT scores, and once again - on cue - outgoing Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum has come up with another creative explanation that conveniently absolves our abysmal public school system of any blame whatsoever.
Let's recap ... one year it was because we weren't spending enough money, another year it was because we didn't have enough "accountability," another year it was because we weren't spending enough money, another year it was because the SAT just isn't an accurate measurement, another year it was because we weren't spending enough money, another year it was because we needed a pre-K bureaucracy, another year it was because we weren't spending enough money, another year we needed facility enhancements, another year it was because we weren't spending enough money, another year we didn't have enough teachers, another year it was because we weren't spending enough money ... and so on and so on ...
Ever the deflecting apologist, this year Inez is blaming the test itself, questioning SAT revisions and whether or not they "actually measure what is being taught nationally."
"Something is off," Inez told The State newspaper this morning.
Inez also claims that a $13 increase in the cost of taking the SAT discouraged repeat testers, thus driving down our scores.
Oh, and God forbid she should ever miss the opportunity to ask for still more money for a bureaucracy that's already doubled (along with per pupil funding) since she was elected, Inez is also asking for ... wait for it ... new programs! That's right, shiny new government programs, specifically funding for yet another accountability and SAT preparedness initiative for which she conveniently doesn't give a price tag.
Another year, another fresh batch of excuses.
Thankfully, this is the last summer of SAT shame in which we have to endure Inez's finger-pointing and incessant mo' money demands, but the litany of evasion and the ever-escalating drumbeat for more of your tax dollars is unlikely to end with the expiration of the Superintendent's second term in January.
Because sadly, the vast majority of legislators (including powerful Republicans like Bobby Harrell, Dan Cooper, Bob Walker, Hugh Leatherman and John Courson) are totally co-opted by the education establishment and don't mind spending more of your hard-earned money to prove it, actual value for the investment be damned.
Heck, Sen. Courson even suggested recently that we should all thank Inez upon her departure by "giving her a hug."
A hug for what? For eight years of the nation's worst SAT scores and graduation rates in spite of gargantuan funding increases, with no end to either in sight?
"Something is off," indeed.
The problem is that what's "off" is not the SAT, it's our General Assembly's blind allegiance to a system that caters almost exclusively to the financial needs of upper class bureaucrats while routinely ignoring the educational progress of the individual child ... thousands of individual children, as a matter of fact.
In the last decade, we've spent billions on new schools, new teachers, new programs, new equipment, higher salaries, a spiffy new accountability system, a massive new First Steps bureaucracy ... pretty much everything Inez and her educrat buddies asked for.
And what's it gotten us?
Well, we get to say "Thank God for Mississippi" or "Thank God for Hawaii" every three or four years when our kids' test scores rank 49th as opposed to 50th.
Until we get our educational loyalties more properly aligned in South Carolina, we can expect to see more of the same shoddy results in the years to come - albeit with different excuses - no matter who we elect Superintendent in November.