Sunday, September 10, 2006

What's Up With K-Flo and School Choice?

Like Governor Mark Sanford, former Governor David Beasley and House Speaker Bobby Harrell, we've always been big fans of GOP Superintendent of Education nominee Karen Floyd.

Seriously, what's not to like?

Floyd is successful, eloquent, attractive and a virtual shoo-in to win election over Democrat Jim Rex in November.

More importantly, Floyd emerged during the 2006 GOP Primary as a solid pro-school choice candidate, advocating a sensible "Put Parents in Charge" compromise targeted exclusively at children trapped in failing or below average schools.

Recently, however, Floyd's campaign has bumbled a series of publicized exchanges with the Rex campaign that - to some - muddy the waters of her previous school choice bona-fides.

Specifically, Floyd has stated that she doesn't support giving "public dollars to private institutions," leading many political observers wondering whether she is running to the center in an effort to avoid heat on the issue.

It goes without saying that strategy in a general election differs dramatically from strategy in primary elections, and that many candidates often retreat in the former from positions they had staked out aggressively in the latter.

But does Floyd's apparent waffle on school choice constitute such a shift?

Of course it does.

Floyd's campaign is being run by Washington D.C.-based consultant Jon Lerner, who also happens to be Gov. Sanford's most trusted political advisor. Lerner, a devout conservative from the Arthur Finkelstein school of campaigning, has also worked for the Club for Growth and is rumored to be a consultant to the SCGOP, as well.

Lerner is an expert at campaign tactics and minimizing the negative impact of incoming attacks, making it highly likely that Floyd's tack to the center is an effort to diminish the potential ill effects of Rex's lone avenue of assault against his candidate.

It is probably no coincidence that Sanford recently told reporters that government restructuring - not school choice or tax cuts - would be his top priority should he be elected to a second term.

The question is - does Floyd's apparent retreat symbolize an actual change in the candidate's thinking on this central issue? Or is it simply a tactical consideration?

Given the steady flow of school choice dollars into Floyd's campaign coffers (and the presence of Lerner at the controls), odds are the move is entirely tactical in nature, and that she maintains her philosophical allegiance to choice.

At least we hope so.

Having said that, some compelling questions should be asked regarding the advisability of such a retreat, to say nothing of the fumbling manner in which it was conducted - on Floyd's opponents' terrain and a time of her opponents' choosing.

With most polls showing support for school choice at an all-time high in South Carolina, why would Floyd not embrace the issue? Particularly against a poorly-funded, virtually-unknown opponent?

Furthermore, why would Floyd risk alienating the core constituency that funded and led the grassroots push to secure the nomination for her in the first place?

Maybe Floyd and Lerner both know that whatever disappointment or confusion these comments may have generated among school choice supporters, none of them are likely to precipitate a mass exodus.

That's why we continue to believe that despite these recent comments, Floyd remains personally committed to school choice, which we also believe will be sufficently demonstrated by the ongoing support she receives from groups like South Carolinians for Responsible Government as well as, we assume, her decision-making once elected.

Her status as an unapologetic public defender of the issue, however, is presently not viable.

In fact, the whole GOP school choice head-scratching exercise reminds us of that famous line from the Dr. Suess book, Horton Hatches an Egg:

"I meant what I said, and I said what I meant, an elephant's faithful, one hundred percent."

Whether on tax cuts, spending limitations, restructuring or school choice - all South Carolina Republicans would be wise to heed Horton's message.


Anonymous Katherine Jenerette said...

This issue is like a minefield; education will not improve in South Carolina without 'drastic' measures that need to be navigated like 'walking on eggs.'

Unfortunately, the real solution is somewhat akin to the posture that KF is taking: a dual track of PRIVATE and PUBLIC approaches is the ONLY realistic solution.

School Choice is not the 'Death Knell' to Public schools like it's opponents would like to have the general public believe; nor are Public Schools unfixable.

The tipping point is to implement School Choice with education funding attached to each student on this side of pulling dollar$ away from Public Schools.

We have to face up to three important realities:

#1) SC Public Schools need immediate help and re-structuring.
#2) Public Schools are next to "Mom's Apple Pie' in the public arena.
#3) Any solution that 'appears' to pull even $1.00 from the Public Schools is going to have an uphill fight.



7:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Martin Guerre aka Van Jenerette:

Are you ever going to respond to the last 3 or 4 comments from the thread "Dawson to Break Pledge" from Aug. 29. It appears that you can't explain or face tough questions when facts get in the way of your story. Go back to that thread and answer the comments. Or if not we will all know that you can't handle the truth and can't address obvious points and questions. Your last post there doged everything and was evasive.

9:36 AM

Anonymous west_rhino said...

Katherine, mayhaps dangling out-sourcing over the educrats heads like the sword of Damocles will motivate a bloated crew of syncophants that barely have a concept of management, let alone leadership or the difference between the two.

The scoundrel's cry "its for the children" unfortunately now is left to identify the sins of the fathers, (emission, omission or commission is another subject entirely, though I suspect we would both agree on most of it). Emotions are played on this field, particularly with socioeconomic groups that have no other alternative, given the educrats talmudic deconstruction of "No Child Left Behind" within their own cabalistic shield of shibboleths and arrogance. We had a GOP platform plank that called for excising the malignancy tht the Federal Department of Education constitutes and allow the funds tied up there to be applied on the front lines where the needs aren't defined by one size fits all arrogant beltway programs.

Maybe we need you on the Hill, are you sure you'd not consider living in the Sixth District?

10:09 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

West_Rhino: I'm sure at some point she will try to run for that one too. In fact in Van's and Katherine's thirst and qwest to hold some kind of office I believe he ran for Congress against Henry Brown. At some point when one runs out of offices to run for one will eventually have to run for Congress if that is all that is left.

10:21 AM

Anonymous Tim said...

It's obvious I went to a public school, because I have no idea what the f*** Rhino is trying to say.

1:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The LaurineLine wrote a much more convincing version of the story. You should check it out.

And SCRG's continued support of Floyd certainly isn't indicative of South Carolinians' feelings on the issue, as the organization has very little to do with SC at all. See Gervais' numerous posts on that subject.

8:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interestingly, k-flo has not changed her position on school choice. she has never been for vouchers. not ever. her website and position statements have always stated her opposition to vouchers and public funding of private institutions.

You have to admire her consistency.

I was amused during the primary how you folks drank the kool aid regarding her candidacy; but as a mouthpiece for sanford, I was not particularly surprised by it.

8:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


8:54 PM

Anonymous jetbeckum said...

Why can`t private schools receive tax money? Don`t private schools parents pay state and federal taxes. Each SC child receives nearly $10,000 a year from
tax payers for little or no education. Why don`t we let the
the state just write a check for each child in the family for $10,000 payable to the parents and
let them decide if they want their
to have an education or not.
I know educ rats will hollar.but education can`t go in the `post office` mode for ever.

2:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't you write me a check for $10,000 per child I don't have. Sending children to private school is a choice and parents should pay for it. Manage your money better and you won't be complaining that you have to dish out money to send your child to a private school. What you are asking for is welfare for education, sounds hypocritical to me. Public schools have put out fantastic students for years and if your children aren’t getting the education you believe they deserve in the public school, then, why don't you get involved to fix the problem instead of complaining about it.

9:16 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home