I’ve been writing this blog for two years and among my first posts were several “research articles” on the state of education in South Carolina.
With elections this year, including State Superintendent of Education (a position for which I have a preferred candidate – see column to the right), I’m reposting excerpts from those earlier pieces. This for the benefit of the thousands hundreds four or five people who read The Spy now, but didn’t back then. These posts are also particularly germane in the campaigns and debates for a number of state offices in which the citizens of South Carolina entrust their educational system and their children’s futures.
July, 2008: “Do Public Educators Hate South Carolina’s Children?”
There is no question that South Carolina’s educational environment is dismal – a situation not unique to the Palmetto State. So, really, what’s not to hate?
Educational systems are particular fiscal black holes. For instance, according to the “Annual Salary Study of Selected School, District, and Personnel,” by the South Carolina Department of Education, the state spends – on an average – over a half a billion dollars ($516,685,102) just on administrator salaries.
Consider, in a state where the median HOUSEHOLD income is less than $40,000 and 12.5% of the families are below poverty level, those responsible for South Carolina’s lousy education system – the school administrators – are doing pretty well for themselves.
There are 8,868 people in 47 administrator job titles in the South Carolina school system, each averaging $67,000 per year. That’s about 168% of the median household – not individual – income.
The state invests funds and children’s futures into a system and with people who repeatedly fail to deliver. Taxpayers are fleeced annually by self-serving education “professionals” whose true motives – at this point in history – need to be carefully scrutinized.
That was followed with “Who’s Responsible For South Carolina’s Schools?:”
There are 82 District Superintendents of which 64 (78%) have between 25 and 40 years of experience. Eighty one (98%) have more than 10 years of experience.
- 77 Asst Superintendents/Instruction
- 58 (75%) 25-40 years
- 100% with 10 or more
- 65 Asst Superintendents/Non-Instruction
- 36 (55%) 25-40 years
- 48 (74%) 10 or more
- “Missing data” on 17 (26/%)
- 203 Secondary Head Principals
- 96 (47%) 25-40 years
- 194 (96%) 10 or more
- 480 Secondary Asst Head Principals
- 95 (20%) 25-40 years
- 366 (76%) 10 or more
- 227 Mid/Jr High Head Principals
- 93 (41%) 25-40 years
- 216 (95%) 10 or more
- 347 Mid/Jr High Asst Head Principals
- 93 (41%) 25-40 years
- 262 (76%) 10 or more
- 635 Elementary Head Principals
- 302 (48%) 25-40
- 604 (95%) 10 or more
- 425 Elementary Asst Head Principals
- 94 (22%) 25-40
- 332 (78%) 10 or more
Of the 2,541 people in these 9 administrative positions state-wide, 38% of them (970) have 25 to 40 years of experience. Eighty-six percent have more than 10 years of experience.
These are the people – the front line commanders – who are and have been responsible for the performance of South Carolina’s public schools. For whatever argument might be made about legislative handcuffs or political interference, the fact remains that THESE are the people who make local school policies. So, what can be expected of THEM?
Apparently, very little.
The school system – the state education process – has failed and has failed for years. These are the people in charge.
In August of that year came ” ‘Public Education’ or ‘Education For The Public?’:”
The arguments, debates, conversations and wailing are traditions. “We must do more for public education!” Usually, “more” means spend more.
Yeah, THAT’S worked.
South Carolina – not a rich state – does a pretty fair amount of spending for education.
C’mon… over HALF A BILLION DOLLARS a year just for administrator salaries? What’s that … 22% of the general fund appropriation?
Put another way, 75% of revenues derived from South Carolina’s sales tax earmarked for K-12 education goes for school administrators’ salaries.
Forty-eight percent of the state’s general fund and over 18% of total funding went to K-12 education. So, please, don’t keep belly aching for more money. The stewardship of those funds is and has been a scandal for decades.
John Stoessel of ABC had an interesting piece a couple of years ago that touched on South Carolina:
I talked with 18-year-old Dorian Cain in South Carolina, who was still struggling to read a single sentence in a first-grade level book when I met him. Although his public schools had spent nearly $100,000 on him over 12 years, he still couldn’t read.
So “20/20” sent Dorian to a private learning center, Sylvan, to see if teachers there could teach Dorian to read when the South Carolina public schools failed to.
Using computers and workbooks, Dorian’s reading went up two grade levels — after just 72 hours of instruction.
His mother, Gena Cain, is thrilled with Dorian’s progress but disappointed with his public schools. “With Sylvan, it’s a huge improvement. And they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. They’re on point. But I can’t say the same for the public schools,” she said.
The current – long-failed – way of educating kids has become an ugly fiefdom and comfortable oasis for administrators and even some teachers.
South Carolina has GREAT kids. Is the state legislature, the executive branch and the education bureaucracy providing for them the schooling they deserve?