Changing Public Education in South Carolina?
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.
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 textbooks. Really?!
- Looking at a long-term focus (8-10 years), not just immediate and fleeting results.
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.
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.