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Still Last June 14, 2007

Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics, The Press.

graduation rates


FITSNews – June 14, 2007 – Thank God for Jim Davenport. After all, if it wasn’t for his reporting this morning the vast majority of South Carolinians probably wouldn’t even know that their state ranked dead last in the nation in high school graduation rates … again. You see, while the rest of the South Carolina press corps was hiding air-raid style beneath their desks, the longtime Associated Press correspondent (whose actual job is covering State House politics and the 2008 presidential campaign, incidentally), took it upon himself to write a story that four full-time education reporters at The State newspaper apparently didn’t have time to mess with.

There’s a reason for that. You see, anytime our State Superintendent of Education makes a meaningless public relations gesture, you can count on The State newspaper to slap it across their front page. Hell, they’ll even tell you what color suit and tie he was wearing and come up with cutesy names to describe his appearance – not to mention only quote those folks who happen to think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

But when there’s real news – like the fact that South Carolina’s 53.8% graduation rate is still the nation’s worst despite our taxpayers pumping another billion dollars into our public school system over the last four years – well, that’s something The State‘s army of status quo sycophants doesn’t think you should read about.

See no evil, hear no evil, right?

The sad truth is that an epidemic of intellectual genocide has been ravaging this state for decades, an unmitigated disaster of Biblical proportion that’s drowning hundreds of thousands of lives each year in failing, fourth-rate public schools. And there’s no end in sight. And no amount of money or “accountability” has fixed it. And nobody – not the governor, not the House of Representatives, not the State Senate and certainly not the State Department of Education – is doing a damn thing to fix the problem.

53.8% … seriously, how do you people sleep at night?

Is there some idiot pill we can take and all of a sudden wake up tomorrow morning believing that the billions in new money and tougher standards and teacher certification crap that hasn’t worked for years is going to magically start making a difference? Or that a “public open enrollment” bill which utterly fails to provide anything resembling a lifeboat for the neediest, most at-risk kids in our state is real school choice? Or that the State Department of Education’s theory of “a culture that doesn’t place enough emphasis on getting a high school diploma” is the real culprit here?

Perhaps that kind of clarity is meant to elude us. Or perhaps we’re not drawing a fat state salary or six-figure public relations contract fueled by the likes of M.B. Kahn & Co. and the rest of education-industrial complex in this state – which might as well be blood money for another lost generation of South Carolina school children.

Or perhaps … just perhaps … we have enough sense to know that the people who demonize school choice as tantamount to “abandoning public education” are the very ones who’ve already abandoned it. Except of course they’re still getting paid to do so.

53.8% … that’s sixteen points lower than the national average, in case you were wondering.

You know it’s funny, every time we write about the education issue we get accused of being on the pro-voucher payroll – you know, those evil out-of-state “cancers, “scourges” and “snake oil salesmen” who want to “destroy our schools” and “drain our scarce resources” with their “risky voucher schemes.” And of course every time we criticize The State newspaper for its overtly agenda-driven “reporting” on this particular issue, we get accused of being the driving force behind another blog which frequently criticizes the newspaper.

But even if both of those things were true (neither one is) the question still stands: With one out of every two children in this state failing to graduate, how do you people sleep at night? How can you blow another billion dollars on the same old tired solutions with absolutlely nothing to show for it and still have the gall to criticize people for wanting to try something new?

53.8% … that takes a special kind of arrogance, ignorance and heartlessness, people.

We’re passionate about school choice because it has successfully raised graduation rates, improved test scores and made public schools better everywhere it’s been implemented, period. Which is a hell of a lot more than the billion dollars in new revenue, state-of-the-art accountability measures and national teacher certification programs can say they’ve done for South Carolina’s school children.

At some point, this dam has to break. Eventually the tiny, invisible Berlin Walls which have been erected around 400 failing or below average schools in South Carolina must out of necessity come crashing down under the weight of their own insolence, incompetence and inefficiency.

Why not open those gates before we waste another billion dollars? Not to mention the lives of nearly 200,000 children who are trapped behind the walls?

Twenty years ago this week President Ronald Reagan stood in front of the real Berlin Wall and gave his famous speech urging the Soviet Union to tear it down.

Frankly, it’s past time our so-called leaders showed that kind of resolve here in South Carolina. Who knows, maybe even The State newspaper would cover a speech like that …



1. Newspaper Hack - June 14, 2007

Reagan was, and is, a joke. Sorry kids.

And the last time I saw Jim Davenport, he was wearing braces. It was 2003, but still, the dude was too old to be correcting his teeth, a la Quiz Kid Donnie Smith. I just have a hard time believing a man who is going through the sort of thing that middle schoolers have to deal with. I mean, when will he be done with his retainer? In his 50s?

2. Sandlapper - June 14, 2007

I think that the voucher idea has merit, but why stop with just public schools? How about gov’t. vouchers for “troops and citizens trapped in a failing war?” Or voters “trapped in a failing political system?” Or citizens “trapped in a crime-ridden society teeming with guns?’ Or motorists “trapped on highways where the death rate is horrendous?” or people “trapped in a society where they cannot obtain quality health care? Instead of working together, rolling up our sleeves and trying to solve the problem or attempting to make a bad situation better, we could just issues vouchers to citizens confronted with specific problems and let them make their own decisions and go their own way. The possibilities are endless!

ion better.

3. Earl Capps - June 14, 2007

Who says anyone read Davenport’s story?

The State may not have covered that speech, but you can bet there would’ve been an editorial which would have gone something like:

“Reagan’s speech represents a scary view of a world where people are left to their own fate. Not only does he fail to lead in his speech, his outlook threatens to provoke a devastating war. Clearly, the risks of following the Pied Piper are simply too high for any reasonable person, much less two nations, to contemplate. It would be unfortunate if the people of both Germanys should choose to embrace Reagan’s dangerous vision.

4. Jim - June 14, 2007

Saw the article this morning. On time after all of Rex’s comments of late.

On a totally unrelated note, what is the scoop on who Sanford is going to appoint to fill the remainder of Solicitor Hoisington’s term in Charleston?

5. SCRG Rhetoric - June 14, 2007

All you can expect from Will on public education is the same tired SCRG rhetoric and snake oil sale pitch we’ve become so used to. Voucher scams will not fix anything, and they know it.

Will’s long winded rhetoric deserves equal ink. The State says it well. Best of all Will can read it quickly without a dictionary since it does not use dime-store words like “sycophant.”

The State – June 14, 2007
This session’s voucher argument undercut itself

THIS YEAR’S STRATEGY by voucher supporters to get a toe in the door highlights why their plans wouldn’t improve the education that children receive in South Carolina…

Read the rest yourself at:

Will’s scared to let the entire editorial be posted here.

6. FITSNews - June 14, 2007

Dear “SCRG Rhetoric” (a.k.a. “Believe it Not”),

Actually, we’re not afraid to post your comment or these revealing links. We just wanted to make you worked for it a little bit seeing as posting comments on this blog is, after all, your job.

Regarding The State newspaper’s claim today that there’s no “market” for choice (when they’ve been a driving force in depriving us of that very market), well, that’s only slightly less intelligent than saying “voucher scams won’t fix anything.” Your argument, while idiotic and patently false, at least is consistently idiotic and consistently false – which is more than we can say for The State’s editorial this morning.

Oh, and we’re sorry we use big words, but we simply don’t share your goal of keeping South Carolina the dumbest, most ass-backward state in the country.

By the way, if you’re looking for a good definition of sycophant, just look in the mirror.


7. Gal Leo - June 15, 2007


I agree wholeheartedly. Your long list of “government vouchers” is actually called a tax cut. Welcome to the right side of the aisle.

8. Sandlapper - June 15, 2007

Gal Leo,
Glad that you agree with me on this fine, rainy SC morn. The problem with tax cuts is, however, twofold. On the federal level, you can’t keep cutting taxes if you continue spending more than you take in. (I believe it was Clinton who last balanced the budget) You can continue to borrow, but the piper’s got to be paid somewhere down the line. A good start now might be to try in the future to avoid unnecessary wars like the one we are involved in now. We are spending $18 million an hour(yes, an hour–three billion a week) over there with no end in sight. On the state level, tax cuts (on income) run into problems because 40% of our citizens are so economically disadvantaged that they don’t pay state income taxes. So it does them no good directly. Things get curiouser and curiouser.

9. To Compete Or Not To Compete « FITSNews For Now - June 22, 2007

[…] spending another billion dollars on its public schools over the last four years only to remain last in graduation rates and last in SAT scores doesn’t constitute enough of a “crack” in the argument […]

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