Changing Public Education in South Carolina?

gov_haley_education state 14Jan

A few days ago, Governor Nikki Haley outlined a new plan to improve education in South Carolina. I don’t like typical “report cards” and rankings for schools, since data can be pulled selectively and rankings are all over the place. We can see the variation with South Carolina here (SC ranking next to last in one category and average in another), here (ranking any from 13th to 44th), and here (#29 in the percentage of quality schools, but this is based on state assessment tests, which are not uniform).

Nonetheless, no one is arguing that our schools don’t need improving, so I am encouraged by the attention this business-minded governor is giving to our public education system. Since she only released general principles, I am reserving full judgment until the details are made known. But for now, there is a lot that I am glad to hear coming out of our governor’s mouth.

The Good

I like what the Governor has to say about:

  • More equitable funding, between high-poverty and wealthy school districts. “The current system of public education, which ‘educates children based on where they live,’ is ‘immoral.'” I wrote about this issue in Equality Is Not Equity.
  • Better teacher pay, which will help recruit and retain quality teachers, and I wrote about this, too.
  • More professional development, especially with technology. And, yes, I also have written about this. (Maybe I should run for governor?) This is much better than one North Carolina politician who questions if computers are better than textbooksReally?!
  • Looking at a long-term focus (8-10 years), not just immediate and fleeting results.

The Bad

I wish Governor Haley would focus on early childhood education. While some results with preschool programs are ambiguous, a lot of studies show that high-quality preschools do make a difference.

I also wish that (as I see in comments and social media) people would not make this political and divisive. Sure, she is announcing these ideas in an election year, but I can’t stand when people jump to start talking about ObamaCare, private and charter schools, and Common Core.

(Side note on Common Core: it’s not the perfect cure-all for education that some say it is, and it’s not the end of the world as others stay it is. In itself, it’s a neutral tool.)

I’d love to see her talk about even higher pay and incentives for quality teachers in the districts that need it most, especially high-poverty districts. Even in an open-enrollment system, not every family is equally mobile.

The Unknown

With all that Governor Haley has said so far, I have some questions, too, including:

  • Will money for poverty districts merely be shifted around, or will the high-poverty areas really get more money?
  • Will there be funding provided to replace or renovate outdated school buildings?
  • How will teachers and administrators be assessed to determine if they are “high-quality”? (I hope it’s not chiefly based on standardized tests!)

I’m looking forward to learning more. Do you know about more details of this plan? Please let me know in the comments.

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6 responses to “Changing Public Education in South Carolina?”

  1. Beachtiger0412 (@beachtiger0412) says :

    Nikki Haley makes this political and divisive – everything Nikki Haley does is politically motivated.

  2. Mary says :

    Check out any ESEA info on the State Dept. of Education website. There is a plan in place for evaluating those of us in education.

  3. dearteacherlt says :

    Joey, I know that you know this, but at Title I schools and high poverty schools, if teachers are judged mainly on standardized testing there will seldom be great teachers at these schools. Yes, we can bring scores up…however this is not the main focus of high-poverty schools. We have to face the unreal struggles that our students live with and focus on teaching not only standards but also basic learning skills, social skills, and the like as well as being a counselor, mentor, and guardian. Scores go up and down. That is not the measure of a great Title I teacher.

    I also like what you said about Common Core. It isn’t a silver bullet and it isn’t a doomsday device. It is just curriculum delivery. The issues with it aren’t what people think it is. I think what will be the downfall of Common Core is reality. It is a great idea and some lofty goals, but what is going to happen is that because of the emphasis on ELA more than anything else (which is true no matter what we are told), STEM is going to be on the back burner because the focus has swung too far on reading and writing. We are going to lose a lot of what makes STEM great (the experiences and engagement). It is not Common Core’s fault, though. It is the scramble to implement it and the over-emphasis on ELA. Okay, I am off of my soapbox. 🙂

    • joeyespinosa says :

      I’m with you about the problems of judging based on standardized tests, even if part of that grade is based on “growth.” I hate the idea of “teaching to the test,” which is what this encourages.

      I hadn’t thought of the effect that CC will have on STEM. That is a big problem, in my opinion.

      A relative who is a teacher (in another state) says that the problem is that there are all these new requirements and standards, but there is no (or little) additional funding for training & implementation. It’s being set up for failure.

      Thanks for your insight. (And feel free to stay on your soapbox as long as you want, at least on my blog.)

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