Wednesday, January 20, 2016

South Carolina's Plan to Remedy Educational Inadequacy

Late last month, the South Carolina legislature's task force on education reform released its recommendations.  The task force was formed by the Speaker of the House in response to the Supreme Court's finding that the state had failed to deliver a minimally adequate education as required by the state constitution.  The task force's job was to identify the causes of the state's educational inadequacies and propose solutions.  Its findings and proposals included:

  • creating a teacher, principal, and superintendent pipeline before the current shortage becomes critical.
  • setting goals for school leaders and metrics for measuring progress toward those goals, which includes all students reading at grade level by 3rd grade, individualized graduation plans for all 9th graders, and college and career readiness by the end of the 12th grade
  • intensive, immediate, and differentiated assistance for school districts labeled as "at-risk" or "below average"
  • efficiency and effectiveness studies of "at-risk" or "below average" districts
  • developing more expertise in Department of Education to assist local districts
  • increasing funding for districts with extreme poverty (a .30 growth in the current poverty weighting), with increased accountability for that funding
  • creating an infrastructure bank
  • in districts where students spend long periods on the bus, instituting technology on the buses to allow students to use that time productively.

This year the state is projected to bring in over a billion dollars in additional tax revenues. Last week, Governor Haley proposed allocating $300 million of those new revenues to education.  Over half of those education funds would go toward increasing the "base student cost" by $80.  Unfortunately, that amount would still leave the state well short of fully funding its 1977 formula adjusted annually for inflation. According to SCnow, fully funding the formula would cost $520 million more than Haley is proposing.  The rest of her education proposal includes $20 million for leasing or buying new school buses, $13.5 million for attracting and retaining teachers in impoverished districts, $29 million for technology, and $11 million in targeted technology spending in poor schools.

 Get the House's full report here.

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