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S.C. Education Establishment Launches Billboard Campaign July 14, 2007

Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.

we suck


FITSNews – July 14, 2007 – Despite receiving an additional $1 billion in new funding over the past four years, South Carolina’s public schools still rank dead last in the nation in both graduation rates and SAT scores. On top of that, approximately 200,000 children are now trapped in failing or below average schools – 60,000 more children than were trapped just a year ago.

Now … does that sound like a venture that deserves another massive infusion of taxpayer cash to you? Or does it sound instead like a failed monopoly that needs legitimate market-based reforms that give parents a choice for a change?

Not surprisingly, a “coalition of public educators and their supporters” insist that still more money is needed. In launching a new billboard campaign along the I-95 corridor, these defenders of the status quo (and staunch opponents of a parent’s right to choose) are publicly ridiculing the “minimally adequate” education their own system has produced, and demanding more of your money to resolve what they call a “funding issue.”

Welcome to South Carolina, home of ‘minimally adequate education.’ Fund education equity now!” the billboards scream at passing motorists.

Gee, talk about a positive economic development message. Especially coming from the very folks who specialize in taxing South Carolina businesses back to the Stone Age in order to subsidize their own disastrous, decades-old failure to educate our children.

At least the billboards lie a little bit and call South Carolina’s public education system “minimally adequate.” We non-tourists know that “f*cking pathetic” is probably a more accurate description. That’s because instead of turning our worst-in-the-nation public school system around, the latest billion-dollar investment has only made things worse.

Seriously, we could have spent a billion dollars transporting a bunch of ravenous hyenas from all over the world and turned them loose inside our classrooms and gotten a better return on our investment.

Yet surprise, surprise, the education establishment still thinks it’s a “funding issue.” Of course they do. It’s always going to be a “funding issue” when you talk to the people who are pocketing the funding. And now they’re intent on causing embarassment to our state in order to get their grubby little paws on still more public money … an overt attempt at taxpayer extortion designed to further pad the pockets of the very people who caused the embarassment.

How ironic.

The truth is we could give these status quo nimrods eleventy kabillion dollars over the next four years and our schools would still be the worst in the civilized world.

But that’s just the tip of the irony iceberg. After all, state legislators throwing ungodly sums of new money at a failing system can only be cast as unfeeling villians for so long. Eventually, somebody else has to be the Bogeyman – but who?

Hmmm … let’s see …

“Unfortunately, we have parents who will go to any length to enroll their child in the school of their preference,” Chester County School Board Chairman Denise Lawson said earlier this week.

Yeah, there we go. It’s those crazy parents’ fault – you know, the moms and dads out there working two jobs, trying to afford daycare and health insurance and shelling out thousands in taxes so that the State Department of Education can continue to punch their kids a one-way ticket to a dead-end existence.

Oddly enough, though, there’s a chance these billboards could work. People need to be outraged and embarassed by what’s going on with South Carolina’s public schools.

But they also need to remember that the educrats with their hands out asking for yet another billion dollars are the people who caused (and profited from) the problem, not the people we should ever expect to solve it.



1. Pandy - July 14, 2007

An intellectual question:

Who is more incompetent…Jim Rex or Mark Sanford?

2. Smoke this - July 14, 2007

Well, if people who suck on I-95 want money, maybe they need to ask the McCain campaign … uh, I meant Bob Allen. They seem to have money and a desire to blow.

3. Pandy's Answer - July 14, 2007

The answer to your question is: will folks.

4. The Trawlerman - July 14, 2007

Jim Rex is more incompetent. See op-ed at this link:



5. Pandy's Answer - July 14, 2007

will folks is clearly the most incompetent.

6. VouchersSuck - July 14, 2007

~With apologies to the old SNL, “Will, you ignorant slut.”

7. Reader from Greenville - July 14, 2007

Wouldn’t a small pilot program in a few SC districts prove whether school vouchers are really the machination of Great Satan that many of these commenters obviously believe that it is?

8. Censored By will folks - July 15, 2007

The following was censored by the sleazebag slut Will Folks on one of his fitsnews blogs:

“You know vouchers will do nothing to fix the real problems facing public education. The S.C. edukashun system works where it has a chance to work – it has many eggsellent skools and skool distriks.

The Korridor of Shame was not created by the edukashun system. It was created by the funding system put in place by the Legislachur. And it is reinforced by the latent racism and poverty you conveniently ignore. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Vouchers will do nothing to fix the real problems such as poverty, latent racism, lack of fair and reasonable funding for all schools and the shameful “minimally adequate” that our Legislachur seems perfectly happy to have as the edukashun standard in S.C.

The power to fix the problems with edukashun rests in the hands of our Legislachur, and it has nothing to do with vouchers.

Vouchers will only drive the wedge of the failed “separate but equal” strategy back into S.C. and will only leave the children who need help the most farther and farther behind.

You know these things are true, yet you still push the voucher scam for the SCRG scalawags.

9. Pandy - July 15, 2007

Gville reader…

Please remember, that those in the system do not want change. If they did, we would already have it.

When Karen Floyd lost it was a sign that nothing will change. More money will be spent, and there will be lots of bitching, moaning and groaning, but nothing will change.

I consider all this education talk boring…as there is no possibility for change as long as Jim Rex is gaurding the henhouse. It is shameful, but it is that way it is.

10. Irwin M. Fletcher - July 15, 2007

I know Jim Rex. He is more competant than Inez T. But that’s not saying much. He’s way over his head

11. FITSNews - July 15, 2007

Dear “Censored,”

You seem to think all supporters of choice are racist, segregationist bastards. Well, we thought you might like to hear from Pastor Richard L. Davis, co-founder of S.C. Clergy for Educational Options.

Here is a snippet from Pastor Davis’ op-ed in this morning’s Augusta Chronicle:

“The truth about South Carolina education is this – if you have resources, you have choices. If you do not, your children will remain trapped in failing schools and there is not a thing you can do about it. And the sad truth is that the current system is far more likely to shortchange minority children than white children. More whites live in better neighborhoods than blacks, and as a consequence black children attend our state’s worst public schools.

Candidate Rex talked last year about providing more choices, but Superintendent Rex went straight back to defending the status quo and tried to sell African-American parents a bill of goods. Black legislators recognized that Rex’s bill would have done nothing to provide black parents with more choices for their children, and that is why so many members of the Black Caucus in the House voted to sustain Sanford’s veto of the bill. Message to Rex: don’t count on black legislators to march in lock-step any longer to fake “reforms” offered by our state department of education.

Rex’s approach of putting power over choice in the hands of bureaucrats, instead of parents, is particularly insulting since everyone knows the education system is hostile to competition of any kind. Just ask the black parents in Lee County – home to the worst traditional public schools in the state – whose efforts to start a charter school were shamelessly fought at every turn by the school district. And look at our state’s public schools’ horrible record in implementing the public school choice options mandated by No Child Left Behind, with only about one percent of the 86,900 students trapped in low-performing public schools being provided those choices.”

Now … is Pastor Davis a racist bastard? And don’t you think he might have a better sense of what his people need than a paid political hack working up at Chernoff Newman?


P.S. – We appreciate your “ignorant slut” comment. That’s class!

12. G.L. - July 15, 2007

I would definitely support a pilot program to see if vouchers work just to shut one side or the other up. Whether it’s vouchers or some other plan, South Carolina does have awful public schools generally speaking (although Upstate schools are much better than other areas of the state) and I think a variety of reasons are to blame including do nothing parents and more importantly do nothing teachers and administrators. I think we could fire half of the teachers in this state and pay the other half twice as much because half are incompetent and don’t do anything anyway.

13. Gillon - July 15, 2007

Hey now, Don’t knock Lee County ‘s public schools. Any county that can produce Cotton Ed Smith, Ashley Smith’s father (yes that Ashley Smith), Heisman trophy-winner Doc Blanchard,
the Lizard Man, Congressman Henry Brown, and the Button Man can’t be all that bad.

14. Thanks Will - July 15, 2007

This blogging is really great fun! Thanks for teaching us will. You really are a master. So bright. So smart. So articulate. So what.

15. Vouchers Really Stink - July 15, 2007

Now, will. We never called you a “sleazebag slut.” Get your facts straight for a change. Please.

When you hacked up out intelligent, thoughtful and factual post to ridicule us, you got your adjectives wrong. We called you an “ignorant slut.” There is a difference.

And we have never called anyone a “racist bastard.” Where did you dream that up? And your “his people” line reminds us of the boneheaded comment Ross Perot made when he was speaking to an NAACP audience and referred to them as “you people.”

Our comment was taken from a line in a classic Saturday Night Live parody that was aired over a major public TV network. The line was a parody then, and it was a parody when we used it to reference you. You should understand: “parody.”

Will, you have no reservations about using foul language or hurling vile insults from your blog at people you often don’t even know as you ridicule their positions on issues.

Yet, when the tables are turned you suddenly turn wholesome and cry foul. Your adoring public is watching for two faced behavior. If you dish it out, please be ready to take it.

Now, with that said we sincerely apologize for calling you an “ignorant slut.”

P.S. Let’s do lunch again soon, you sleazebag. Oh, and nice try with another “grass roots” organization. Ask Gilda and other key black leaders in private what they think about those organizations.

16. FITSNews - July 15, 2007

Dear Chernoff-Newman (#8, #14 & #15),

Honestly, the best part of our day is watching you get so bent out of shape.

In all the incoherent rambling, though, we’re just waiting for you to actually cite a fact in support of your argument that choice doesn’t work. Seriously, just show us an example.

Of course we’re flattered with the fixation, and we don’t mind being called sleazebags and ignorant sluts … even sleazebag sluts is fine, too.


P.S. – When did we do lunch? We must have missed that. Maybe you can tell us where we went and what we ate and that might refresh our memories.

17. The Boss - July 16, 2007

VRS, A better question for Gilda is why she couldn’t hold the Black Caucus votes on the vote to override Sanford’s veto of Rex’s “choice” bill. Turn the page…

18. Natasha - July 16, 2007

If only SC’s backwards politicians could get something right for a change…We can learn something from Florida, they spend the LEAST amount of money per capita on education. Better schools and spending less money, what an idea?


19. Vouchers Fail - July 16, 2007

Will, you asked about voucher failures. Here’s the truth. Post it. This is “another” study showing that vouchers are a scam. This is not from the “satanic” NEA. This is the National School Board Association.

Notice this is an “adedemic evaluation.” It is not one of your politically motivated evaluations. So, you see? Vouchers fix nothing.

Another Study Finds No Academic Impact from Vouchers
For Immediate Release
June 21, 2007
For more information contact
Marc Egan, Director, Federal Affairs
National School Boards Association
703-838-6707; megan@nsba.org

Statement by National School Boards Association
On U.S. Department of Education
Release of First-Year Academic Evaluation of
Washington, D.C. School Voucher Program

Another Study Finds No Academic Impact from Vouchers
Alexandria, VA – June 21 – Today the U.S. Department of Education released a Congressionally mandated academic evaluation of the Washington, D.C. pilot private school voucher program. The study examined and compared the academic achievement of students who used federally funded vouchers to attend a private school and students who were not offered a voucher and attended public school. After one school year, the study found no significant academic differences in reading and math between private school voucher students and public school students.

This is the latest in a line of previous studies that have found no significant academic advantages for students as a result of private school vouchers. Previous studies of the Cleveland and Milwaukee voucher programs, also funded by taxpayers, reached similar conclusions. Despite the ability of private schools in the Washington, D.C. program to maintain their admissions standards, this study indicates that students have not benefited academically from vouchers beyond their peers in public schools.

When evaluated, voucher programs nationwide have proven ineffective in helping to raise student achievement compared to public schools. Congress and lawmakers at the state level would be wise to invest the scarce resources available for education in the nation’s public schools that serve 48 million students, are publicly accountable and available to all children.

Founded in 1940, the National School Boards Association is a not-for profit federation of state associations of school boards across the United States. Its mission is to foster excellence and equity in public elementary and secondary education in the United States through local school board leadership.

20. Anon - July 16, 2007

I posted this story from Milwaukee earlier, but it somehow disappeared. As I said originally, I don’t have a dog in the fight. But I think this would be one example of choice not working. It’s my understanding that the school never reopened.

Fighting closes voucher school

A large private school was closed Tuesday, apparently due to a series of fights inside one of its buildings on Monday.

Administrators of Academic Solutions Center for Learning posted handwritten signs at each of its buildings, saying the school was closed. The sign at the building where the fights occurred, 4055 N. 34th St., says the school is closed until Monday. At a second site at 4840 W. Fond du Lac Ave., a sign simply says, “No school today!!”

Acting Lt. Henry Ellis of the Milwaukee Police Department said a fight broke out and escalated Monday between two girls. Ten to 12 people, some juveniles and others 18 or older, were given disorderly conduct citations from police. About 10 to 15 officers helped quell the fights, Ellis said.

Ellis said order was restored after about an hour and a half. Several of those involved had cuts and bruises, he said.

Police were told by school officials that there were also maintenance problems in the 34th St. building, and that the school was closed because of the combination of violence and building problems, Ellis said. A roofing crew was at the school Tuesday afternoon.

School officials could not be reached for comment. Doors to both buildings were locked, and the school’s telephone was not being answered.

The school serves middle and high school age students. All or most of its students are part of the state-funded private school voucher program.

The state Department of Public Instruction withheld a $1.3 million payment to the school in November after serious questions were raised about how many students were enrolled. The school claimed that it had 729 students; after that figure was challenged, an accountant hired by the school said the number should have been 478.

21. FITSNews - July 16, 2007

Hey that’s great. The Chernoff spin machine finally sprung for Lexis-Nexis.

First of all, the National School Boards Association is actually much worse than the NEA when it comes to objectivity on school choice issues, so you’ve got a point there. You replaced a transparently biased organization with an even more transparently biased one.


Rather than subscribing to the position of the education establishment, we would echo the Washington Post’s conclusion that after only seven months “it’s just too soon to declare D.C. vouchers a success or a failure.” (Grading School Vouchers, June 23, 2007).

The Post – hardly a bastion of conservative thought – also said that “anyone interested in giving choices to students who most need them would do well to keep an open mind. Of course, those refusing to do so are those antagonists who for reasons of ideology, politics or self-interest are inalterably opposed to vouchers.”

Fact is, citing data from the first seven months of a five-year program (data which didn’t show any negative effects, by the way), does nothing to prove your argument that vouchers hurt public schools. Seven months is nowhere near enough time to correct the decades of disaster wrought by inadequate public schools. In fact, the dramatic improvement of both public school students and their private school counterparts in cities like Milwaukee and Cleveland came only after the program had been operational long enough to create a legitimate market for the growing number of transfer students.

You can read the Post’s article for yourself here:


Think about this line while you read it, too:

“Many of those who will be deciding this issue have never known what it’s like not to have options. They might want to listen to people such as Nikia Hammond, another D.C. parent, who has four children in the program. As she told The Post, “Without the scholarship fund . . . I’d be out of luck.”


22. FITSNews - July 16, 2007


Impressive. You found one school in Milwaukee with some problems. Well, we’ve got 400 schools in South Carolina (w/ 200,000 students) that are failing or below average.

Since its inception, the choice program in Milwaukee has quadrupled the number of PUBLIC school kids that end up entering 2-year degree programs, to say nothing of the thousands of kids who have found better learning environments thanks to the creation of legitimate market. Since the choice program started, the graduation rate in Milwaukee PUBLIC schools is up by over 9%, too, by the way.

Again, cherry-pick one bad apple all you want but our question still stands – can you show us an example of where vouchers/ tax credits have actually hurt public schools?


P.S. – Good luck …

23. Anon - July 16, 2007

As I said before, I don’t have a dog in this fight. I don’t believe that vouchers are the “Great Satan” that many people say they are. You asked for one example where choice didn’t work. For the kids who attended that school, I’d say it didn’t. Here, also from Milwaukee, is a snippet from another story:

“Doyle proposed last year that all voucher schools be accredited by one of a number of educational organizations. He told a Journal Sentinel reporter recently that he wanted to be sure reliable outsiders checked out schools to determine if they were legitimate schools. About a half dozen voucher schools have been forced to close in the last two years because of business irregularities, violence or failure to meet the state definition of a private school.”

There are a variety of stories in which experts from the public education field offer “evidence” of vouchers “hurting” public schools. But that’s exactly what any reasonable person would expect them to say, just like any reasonable person would expect voucher supporters to offer “evidence” to the contrary.

I agree with GL. The only way this dispute is going to be settled is if there is, at the very least, a pilot program, a program that is given enough time to prove or disprove whether it works, and a program in which kids in all private and public schools are held to the same standards.

One question about your response: If you take out the “bad” kids, the ones who are fighting and causing schools to close, wouldn’t the graduation rate rise as a natural function of mathematics? If 50 of 200 students graduate, that’s 25 percent. If 50 of 150 graduate, that’s 33 percent. That’s an 8 percent increase, but the only evidence of change is that you started with fewer students.

24. Vouchers Stink - July 16, 2007

Poor Will. There you go again with the SCRG rhetoric you are paid to regurgitate. Your buddy Mick Mulvaney refused to answer this, so why don’t you take a ‘crack’ at it…

…sorry, poor choice of words. Please answer a question for us.

By the way, Mick is the only Legislator we know who has admitted talking to you since you joined the SCRG. So here comes the question.

First, a little background music: As we have clearly pointed out here many times the real problems facing schools come from latent racism and the poverty that rides on its back – along with inadequate and unbalanced funding. And one of the biggest problems is the standard our Legislature has set for public education: “minimally adequate.”

There are also social and parenting issues that go along with the poverty and racism, but we don’t want to distract you with social issues that would upset you.

So, just stick to the previous paragraph.

How do vouchers address those real problems? The don’t!

What do vouchers do for the children left behind? Nothing!

Vouchers do nothing to address the real problems or to raise the S.C. education standard of “minimally adequate.”

We asked Mick if we could count on him to introduce legislation next session to raise that standard to “superior education.”

We have not heard from him since.

Voucher will do one thing well. They will create a new standard of “separate but equal” in S.C. As Gilda pointed out, we already tried “separate but equal.” It failed. Just like vouchers fail. You know it and so does S.C.

And, Will, with your temper you are really are not cut out for this business. Make sure you take your blood pressure medicine so you don’t burst a vein. And get plenty of rest. It will help with your stress.

P.S. It’s a lie to suggest the “Corridor of Shame” was created by the “education establishment” (whatever that is). You know what created it. Vouchers will only make it worse along the “Corridor of Shame.”

25. The Boss - July 16, 2007

“Inadequate funding”? What a joke. Over $10,000 a head now — and even more in our state’s poorer counties, thanks to the “unbalanced funding” inherent in weighted-distribution formulas like the EFA and, to a lesser degree, the EAA. And now you’re focusing on words like “mimimally adequate,” as if changing them will magically undo the way the education establishment has cluster-fucked the whole system. And by “education establishment,” VS, I mean the bureaucrats, from Rex at the SDE all the way down to the public relations hacks that each and every board of education hires to shill for dollars and shamelessly burnish their shitty image.)Competition has made our nation the envy of the world, but educrats prefer their cozy static world. And yes, the Corridor of Shame is a direct result of that cozy world. Change is coming; count on it.

26. Natasha - July 16, 2007

VF #19,

The news release is a joke, it gives NO STATISTICS, only statements. First of all, a broad “failing assessment” in such a short period of time is completely embryonic. Secondly, there are NO NUMBERS to back the statements up, so one cannot clearly analyze the data. Thirdly, who did they survey? ALL the kids, or just the kids participating in school choice, that will make a difference, if the kids getting vouchers are getting higher marks, then it’s worth it. Fourth – once competition is implemented in an educational system, then in the theory of the free market, that competition should make the entire educational system better as well…

And last but not least…why the hell not? Why shouldn’t SC AT LEAST TRY SOMETHING NEW, it still can’t be any worse than where we already are re: education. It would be dumber than dumb not to change, not to try to help those who need it most…

27. G.L. - July 16, 2007

One of the main reasons I’m starting to support vouchers is because the status quo educrats with the NEA and School Boards Association and whatever new group they have this week are so rude and so quick to jump to conspiracies when their magnificent public school system that we pay for gets criticized.

28. upstater - July 17, 2007

It would seem pretty difficult, I think, to realistically compare Milwaukee or Cleveland to Jasper County or Colleton County, SC. Large city with many existing private schools, dense populations, developed public transportation (I would guess) vs. sparsely populated communities with little or no public transportation, qualified teacher shortages already, and few existing private schools –especially ones that are looking to take on the very students who are most likely to drop out of school.

29. Milton Friedman - July 17, 2007

Upstater — if the demand (as would be created by vouchers) were there, the supply (i.e., private schools, parochial schools, etc.) would meet it, even in rural counties. All part of the free market economics that so terrifies the educrats.

30. upstater - July 17, 2007

In high school, we used to watch educational programs by Milton Friedman. Our teacher called him “Uncle Milt.”

In any case, this “free market economics” deal assumes a number of things that are tough determine in education. My guess is that voucher money or tax credit money would, indeed, produce some scattered new offerings….and if we could guarantee that those new offerings would help the kids with the greatest need, then it might be a good thing. But here are a few things I think are worth mulling over:

— The free market generally refers, I would think, to for-profit businesses. Is education a good example of for-profit business? How many private schools are run for a profit? In fact, there are some companies that work on this basis in a variety of communities. To my knowledge, they usually contract with a public system, which is different from a voucher/choice scenario….maybe there are examples of for-profit companies in a school choice situation, but my guess is that it’s rare. There are businesses that run tutoring services, but that’s certainly very different from running a full-scale school.

— Voucher money would put TUITION dollars into the market. But what does TUITION money really pay for? What’s Will Folks’ alma mater? Hammond Academy? Heathwood Hall? One of those? Anyway, are those schools run totally on tuition dollars? Were their buildings constructed on tuition dollars? My guess is that the vast majority of upscale private schools — the ones that folks like Mark Sanford send their children to — are run largely on endowments and ongoing charitable fundraising…..all of which is decidedly non-for-profit business and also well beyond the scope of tuition vouchers and tax credits.

— What about other facilities? Well, there are rundown strip malls that might have empty storefronts for cheap rent. Maybe those could actually work in some cases — seriously. Of course, should physical education be a requirement? Empty parking lots might suit. What about school lunch? After all, many of the state’s poorest kids get free lunch….possibly the only decent meals (not that their so great) are in school. Would storefront schools reasonably be able to offer lunch? And, again, it sure isn’t the kind of setting Mark Sanford has chosen for his own children….or that people like Will Folks grew up attending. Churches with nice buildings are certainly a reasonable possibility in some cases, but even those are in quite limited supply in our poorest counties.

— Will demand really lead to supply in our poorest counties? Again, especially considering that education generally isn’t a for-profit or high-profit business. We’re talking about counties that already have shortages of qualified teachers as well as economies that are depressed in general. The notion that young, sharp professionals are going to flock to these communities to start schools on voucher tuition money — AND to teach our poorest, most academically challenged students — seems a little over-optimistic, I’d say. It MIGHT happen in Greenville or Columbia or Charleston….but Allendale? Marion? Bamberg? Manning?

— Finally, while it’s fair to say that vouchers targeted at the poor might help some where the conditions are just right, SCRG, as touted by Mark Sanford and Will folks, actually guaranteed the poorest folks NOTHING. It would have served the middle-class first. The poor could have gotten scholarships had the “scholarship granting organizations” worked out (and maybe they would have done well). But they would have been guaranteed nothing at all and, it would seem, would have certainly most often gotten scholarships only AFTER more well-off kids families had gotten their tax credits and, thus, their pick of existing private school capacity.

31. upstater - July 17, 2007

I admit that was a long post….but any comment pro-school-choicers, free-market true believers, etc.?

I think there’s plenty of interesting discussion to be had.

32. upstater - July 19, 2007

Any of these concerns resonate with you all?

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