Sheheen takes step in right direction on higher ed

When I read this yesterday morning…

A South Carolina lawmaker has a plan to stop college tuition from going up — just don’t expect it to get passed this year.

State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw, will file a bill to fix what he sees as the four biggest issues in higher education: tuition increasing at “an astronomical, unsustainable rate,” colleges recruiting out-of-state students to balance their budgets, fixing campus buildings that have fallen into disrepair and “streamlining a bureaucratic mess.”

Sheheen will unveil the proposal — and detail the plan’s specifics — Tuesday at an 11 a.m. news conference on the first floor of the State House….

… I resolved to drop by the State House to hear the proposal. I did so, however, knowing what I’ve known for years: If lawmakers want to stop the rise in tuition, the solution is obvious. You have to start funding higher education again.Sheheen mug

Back when I was in school and tuition was dirt-cheap, the state actually funded “state-funded” colleges and universities. Now, the state’s taxpayers are minor contributors, providing a percentage of operating costs that long ago dropped into single digits. University presidents spend the lion’s share of their time trying to scrape up funds from other sources — and yeah, tuition is one of those other sources.

So there’s always been a great deal of phoniness in many legislators’ hand-wringing over rising tuition — unless they’re willing to address the actual problem. It’s always been completely within the power of lawmakers — as a body — to do this.

But I expected that Vincent Sheheen knows this, probably better than I do, so I went over expecting to hear something real. And I did. Or rather, since I arrived just as the presser was breaking up, I read something real on this handout before briefly interviewing Vincent and others present, such as USC President Harris Pastides:

sheheen doc

It’s not much — it probably won’t even pull state funding back out of the single digits (a Senate Finance Committee staffer is running down the numbers on that for me, but I don’t have them yet).

But yeah, providing more funding from the state is the one thing that’s needed for keeping down tuition. So, while this will do little more than slow the rise, it’s something. And it’s honest.

And note that it even meets Doug’s test: If you want more money for something, findi it somewhere in the budget that exists, rather than raising taxes.

So, you know… something for everybody…

63 thoughts on “Sheheen takes step in right direction on higher ed

  1. Doug Ross

    I guess with all those exclamation points, we know he’s serious.

    If it truly doesn’t mean a tax increase, I’m fine with it. I’d like to see the details on where the rising costs have been allocated. Seems like there’s been a whole lot of building going on around campus for quite awhile. Plus, we all (well, those of us who understand economics) knew that when they shifted to the lottery scholarships, all that “free” money would be treated as additional funding instead of actually offsetting expenses. The yearly increases in tuition and other costs have exceed the inflation rate for more than a decade — that’s a spending issue rather than a funding issue.

    But the bottom line is that there are too many students wasting too much money getting degrees that aren’t worth the cost. College is about “experiences” and “luxuries” now at the big schools like USC… if you are paying $200K and taking $150K in loans to pay for a degree that might get you a job paying $40K, you’ve already proven you aren’t bright enough to go to college.

    1. Scout

      “The yearly increases in tuition and other costs have exceed the inflation rate for more than a decade — that’s a spending issue rather than a funding issue.”

      This is not necessarily true. If the increase is keeping up with inflation but also has to make up the difference from continually dropping funding levels in addition to that, then tuition may have to go up just to maintain the same level of service without it being from additional spending.

      I’m not saying that spending isn’t happening too – I don’t know the details. But I know that funding has dropped.

    2. Richard

      Rule of thumb…. if someone asks you, “What do you do with a degree in ________?” pick another major. 90% of liberal arts degrees should be eliminated.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Certainly, if you think of education in utilitarian terms, as merely a means to a job.

        I don’t. I mean, I don’t rule it out as one goal of education — we have schools so that people can be qualified to be useful — but it’s certainly far from the only goal, or the highest.

        The highest, I believe, is to produce informed citizens who have a real understanding of their society, how and why it came to be as it is, and how to interact with it to make it better. To keep students from being “idiots” in what I thought was the ancient Greek sense, although Stavros Macrakis has offered some strong, erudite arguments suggesting I was misunderstanding their meaning)…

        1. bud

          Agree. It’s important to have experts in literature, philosophy and ancient history even if that knowledge doesn’t translate into wealth for the individual.

          1. Doug Ross

            Yeah, as long as there are people with real jobs to support those who want to read old books or gaze at their navels…

            You don’t need college to be educated.

            1. Doug Ross

              And you certainly don’t need to pay to attend college to get an equivalent educational experience. I completed an American Government class given for free online — it was taught by Thomas E. Patterson of the
              Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Would it really be better for a student to pay thousands of dollars to take a similar course at a local mid-tier university? Please don’t try to convince me that sitting in a classroom three days a week to listen to a similar lecture is more valuable.

        2. Claus2

          And is what you’re talking about worth spending $100,000 – $200,000 (most of it in loan debt) to achieve?

          Let’s take a look at what you can major in at USC:
          African American Studies
          Art History
          Comparative Literature
          Creative Writing
          Exercise Science
          Film and Media Studies
          Foreign Language
          Interdisciplinary Studies
          LIberal Studies
          Media Arts
          Organizational Leadership
          Real Estate
          Sport and Entertainment Management
          Tourism Management
          Women’s and Gender Studies

          1. Claus2

            Let’s look at Clemson:
            Curriculum and Instruction
            Language and International Health
            Language and International Trade
            Learning Sciences
            Pan African Studies
            Policy Studies
            Production Studies in Performing Arts
            Sports Communication
            Women’s Leadership
            World Cinema

              1. Claus2

                Well for me, cutting them would be budget saving measures… and save students from wasting 4-5 years of their life.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  You’re kidding. You’d cut history? You’d cut English? You’d cut foreign languages? What in the world would you LEAVE?

                2. Norm Ivey

                  I spent 8 years earning my Humanities BA. That led to to a 28 year career (so far) in education. That career helped give us the resources and the freedom to raise our children and spend enormous amounts of time with them that not all parents get. I look back on the joy and the togetherness and the adventures we had with them as they grew up, and the opportunities we were able to offer them. Wasted time? Not one moment.

                3. Claus2

                  Yes I’d cut foreign language… as in cutting majoring a foreign language.

                  Claus: “Brad, what did you major in in College?
                  Brad: “Vietnamese”
                  Claus: “What do you do with a degree in Vietnamese?”
                  Brad: “I don’t know but it cost me $160,000.”

            1. Claus2

              “What in the world would you LEAVE?”

              I could list the remaining majors… but to save time, Business, Engineering, Nursing, Hard Sciences, Medicine, Education, Law, Pharmacy… you know majors that you can actually use to earn a living.

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            Here’s what I did: I majored in journalism. But since I had tested out of having to take math or foreign languages, and partially tested out of science (the head of that department wasn’t very cooperative, he only let me test out of 3 hours of the require 9 hours of science), I took LOTS of electives — a good bit of English, even more political science, and most of all, history.

            When I was a semester away from graduating, I realized that, without meaning to, I had taken so many history courses that I was within 6 hours of a major. So I took two more 3-hour courses (which ended up being two of my favorites ever), and satisfied the requirement for a major in that, too (although I don’t think I ever declared it, so I don’t know if it shows on the record).

            Between the two, the major that means the most to me is the one in history. I’ll even say that the history did more to make me a good journalist than the journalism courses did.

            Journalism is a trade for educated people with a knack for writing. I had the knack, and the history and other electives did much more to make me an educated person than taking courses like Editing 201 ever did…

            Not that I’m saying I’m an “educated person.” I have so much I don’t know. But the history and poli sci courses helped me move in that direction…

            1. Claus2

              Why didn’t you just graduate early? A friend of mine did that, tested out of several courses and got his Bachelor’s degree in three years.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Because I wanted to learn.

                Also, I couldn’t graduate until I’d satisfied the requirement for a major in SOMETHING, and I put off a couple of the journalism courses until the end.

                Also — it’s been a long time, so I don’t recall — I think you had to have a total number of semester hours, and I hadn’t satisfied that requirement until the very end.

                I finished over the summer. Took those last two journalism courses I’d been dreading, and the two history courses, spread over the first and second summer sessions. Graduated in August…

                1. Richard

                  You couldn’t read about history on your own? I’m sure bookstores and libraries are full of books on the subject… I don’t need someone telling me about history that I can’t learn on my own. Besides, what were you going to do with that degree in history… become a history teacher?

                2. Norm Ivey

                  Have you ever given serious thought to it? There’s a shortage of teachers, you know. I’ll put in a good word for you.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    No, I haven’t. Not since maybe when I was in high school myself. I always kind of looked up to my history teachers. They seemed to know things worth knowing. Also, those were some of the first male teachers I had, which sort of made them role models.

                    You’re too young, but maybe you’ve seen this in reruns: You ever watch “Room 222?” I was still in high school the first couple of seasons it ran, and I really liked it. The leading character — who was actually one of the first black lead characters on a primetime drama (Bill Cosby had shared the star billing on “I Spy”), I’m guessing — was a high school history teacher. It was very “To Sir With Love” meets “Up the Down Staircase.”

                    I seem to recall having some ambition to be that guy someday, back when I watched that.

                    Michael Constantine, whom most people today probably think of as the Greek-word-obsessed Dad in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” was the principal…


                3. Claus2

                  “Have you ever given serious thought to it? There’s a shortage of teachers, you know. I’ll put in a good word for you.”

                  And why is there a shortage of teachers? Because teachers are leaving because kids know they can get away with anything, administration doesn’t support teachers and parents view school as free daycare. I’d just as soon be a prison guard as a teacher these days… about the only difference is the age of the people you’re taking care of.

                4. Norm Ivey

                  I’m not as young as you think. My older sisters used to watch Room 222, and I saw enough of it to develop a crush on Karen Valentine.

                  TV shows that try to portray the teacher perspective never last very long.

                  Up the Down Staircase was my last read of the summer for maybe the first ten years of my career. It helped put things in perspective.

                5. Norm Ivey

                  about the only difference is the age of the people you’re taking care of.

                  That’s a terrible thing to say about tens of thousands of kids who come to school every day eager to learn and ready to improve their world.

            2. Norm Ivey

              I went to school late, and had to work full-time during most of it. I learned pretty quickly that my advisor (who changed every semester for my first two years) was worthless, and I did my own advising, just asking him or her to sign off each semester.

              I took NO electives. Got to my penultimate semester and had all my requirements complete. I needed to take 5 electives to graduate. I called the State Department of Education. They looked at my transcript and told me I could add elementary certification to to secondary English by taking five classes. Did it. Graduated with both certifications. It was the elementary certification that allowed me to switch from ELA to science in my 15th year.

  2. Norm Ivey

    Is anyone else put off by all the exclamation marks? I am!

    I’m curious about the source of the $125 million!

    Primary schools could also use that money, and it would benefit more kids!

    Sounds promising! I hope it passes!

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes, so am I!

      It’s like the memo was written by someone from Lindsey Graham’s staff!

      !All of Lindsey’s press releases have exclamation points before AND after the headlines!

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      And Norm, I fully appreciate your point here:

      “Primary schools could also use that money, and it would benefit more kids!”

      But you may be gratified to know that many, many lawmakers agree with you. And as a group, they’ve been agreeing with you year after year for decades.

      While our GOP-controlled Legislature may not be as pro-education as back when Vincent’s Uncle Bob was speaker, there are more friends of K-12 education than there are of colleges. Consequently, when money is pegged to go to education, it tends to be for K-12.

      And while in a given year you might be able to justify that, when it happens time and time again for decades, to the point the higher education is almost completely defunded, you end up with a situation in which those who DO want to go to college, and have the skills, can’t afford it.

      Our state needs good K-12 schools. But it also needs accessible colleges and universities…

      1. Doug Ross

        Read the story in The State today about teachers leaving due to classroom discipline issues and you may realize that no matter how much money you want to spend on K-12, it won’t fix the parents who send undisciplined kids to school and administrators who coddle problem children.

        “Teachers generally say they don’t fault students for misbehaving — that’s what some students do. But school administrators who undermine their authority and set lenient discipline policies create learning environments where misbehaving students get away with too much, they say.

        “All it takes is one defiant kid who gets his way, day after day, to destroy a classroom,” Barnes said.

        Barnes said the fifth-grader who wrote that he wanted to kill her faced no real consequences — it was close to the end of the year, and she thinks he was sent home with excused absences, not officially suspended from school.”

        Check out the handwriting and spelling in the photo of the note written by a 5th grader who puts killing his teacher at the top of his to do list. It looks like something written by a 1st grader.. do I think this kid has the literacy skills to be in 5th grade? Unlikely. The standard procedure is to push ’em along until they eventually drop out. What is the point of spending millions on testing if kids can’t read and write in the 5th grade?

        The issue isn’t money… and I’m someone who always focuses on the money. The problems in SC schools go far beyond just spending more per student. The first steps don’t cost a dime:

        1) strengthen classroom discipline by administrators backing professional teachers over treating parents like customers at Burger King.

        2) stop testing unless there is a real plan to use the data to change behavior and stop promoting kids who can’t read

        3) back off from creating cookie cutter teaching environments… great teachers need to be allowed to be great.. and bad teachers need to be kicked to the curb

        4) don’t back down on stopping the TERI cash grab . We need new teachers with new ideas and more energy, not teachers looking to grab a few extra years of pay

        5) show PROOF that all the investment in 4K schooling has proven benefits that justify the cost. We should know by now if it impacts graduation rates from high school (which is the only true measure of the success of K-12 education)

        6) Get rid of multiple school districts per county – they are unnecessary and a waste of resource. Another failing mini-district was taken over by the state today… it’s not because of money – it’s because of mismanagement. We don’t need multiple school boards in a county – we need one.

        1. Norm Ivey

          Point 1: Agree.
          Point 2: Agree with the first statement, but promotion isn’t the problem. The problem is the poor readers don’t get appropriate intervention in time. Holding them back doesn’t rectify that problem.
          Point 3: Agreed, but we’ve disagreed before on the number of bad teachers. That’s mostly a self-pruning bush, kinda like a scrub oak.
          Point 4: Where do these new teachers come from? The first article in The State’s series discussed the extent of the shortage. Even a district like Richland 2 has unfilled positions. More folks are leaving the profession than entering it. One out of five new teachers don’t come back for year 2. Two in five quit within five years.
          Point 5: Define proof. There’s too many variables between 4K and graduation for graduation to be the measure. And test scores aren’t the measure either.
          Point 6: Meh. That saves money, but how does it improve education? Combining districts 1, 2, and 5 would leave you with a district with 50,000 or more students, making it less responsive to the needs of its community.

          1. Doug Ross

            How is the size of a district related to addressing the needs of the community? Are you suggesting a district like Lexington needs more than one district? Are the needs of Florence County somehow so different when you cross the street from one district to another? And what is special about Richland County that two districts are required? From what I heard, District 2 was created due mainly to racial factors — but is there really a need to have two boards, two HR departments, two procurement offices, two sets of every administration department within a few miles of each other?

            As for the K4 proof it seems pretty simple. Are children from the same cohort graduating at measurably higher rates than those who do not participate or compared to rates prior to the implementation. I’d rather see more spent on remedial efforts for those kids who actually need help than making it required for kids who won’t benefit. Targeted actions will surely do better than broad based programs.

            The demand for new teachers is probably driven more by teachers who enter the system finding out it isn’t what they expected in terms of the classroom experience.. I’m not convinced that TERI teachers are better — just more willing to live with the limitations the administration puts upon them. Teachers tend to be a very closed rank group who don’t want to buck the system. We need more current teachers to speak out about policies and administrations that are preventing them from doing their jobs… what I’ve seen is that the teachers just leave rather than complain.

            1. Scout

              “As for the K4 proof it seems pretty simple. Are children from the same cohort graduating at measurably higher rates than those who do not participate or compared to rates prior to the implementation. I’d rather see more spent on remedial efforts for those kids who actually need help than making it required for kids who won’t benefit. Targeted actions will surely do better than broad based programs.”

              What do you know about the 4k program? You may be starting from a false assumption, because in fact, the 4k program currently is an intervention for kids with certain risk factors – you have to qualify based on risk factors and you have to have a parent who chooses to take advantage of the opportunity in time to get a spot and not be on a waiting list. Kids who meet the risk factor requirements and get registered, go through a developmental screening and spots are given to the lowest scoring children first. It is not “required for kids who won’t benefit.” Are you thinking that we have universal 4k where every 4 year old is required to attend. We do not. Many schools have only one 4k class with 20 spots given to the most at risk kids only.

              Incidentally those risk factors that make you qualify and get a spot in a 4k program do not go away. They also impact the child’s later success in school and potential graduation. 4k is not a magic bullet to fix all the problems of at risk kids, but that does not mean it isn’t valuable. I’m not aware that anyone has compared 4k kids to kids with the same risk factors who did not attend 4k – waiting list kids who never got a spot would be the best comparison since that means they also had parents involved enough to register them, but it also may mean that they had higher developmental scores – so may not be a perfect control group. I would not be at all surprised if such a comparison did show noticeable differences between kids with the same risk factors who did and didn’t get 4k. If you are wanting to compare the 4k kids to the same age general population who did not attend, I’m sure the 4k kids will still do worse because you cannot totally remediate the effects of those risk factors throughout their entire school career when competing against kids who have none.

              In my personal experience, the difference is certainly apparent at the beginning of 5k between the poverty kids who did and did not attend 4k. The 4k kids come in much more prepared to begin to learn to read based on what is required in the curriculum today.

              Also incidentally I am currently part of a research study to measure the effects of additional language intervention into 4k classes in my district – half are getting it and half are not right now – We are collecting the end of year data right now to see if the classes with the additional intervention have had more growth.

              1. Doug Ross

                We have PASS testing, right? How many of these children who participate in 4k are reading at grade level by 3rd grade? That’s an even easier test to compare to cohorts.

                I just want to see data that proves it works. Not anecdotes. There has to be SOME measurement standard to justify it.

                1. Scout

                  I agree with you – I want data too. I wasn’t saying anecdotes suffice – they are just all I have available. I feel that reading level at third grade is a more reasonable measure than graduation rate though.

                2. Norm Ivey

                  Being a middle schooler for the last 28 years (45 years if you want to look at it that way), I can’t speak too much about standardized testing for 3rd graders. I think the place to measure it would be where Scout suggests–at the beginning of 5K, not 3rd grade.

                  Research on Head Start shows definite gains for those students in the first few years, with the gains fading as they get older, but that’s just the leveling nature of education IMHO.

                3. Brad Warthen Post author

                  That’s fine, if you’re comparing kids with the same risk factors, as Scout suggests. Otherwise, your numbers are going to be fairly meaningless. If you’re comparing the 4K kids to others who were judged not to NEED 4K, what are you measuring?

                4. Doug Ross

                  If the kids who went through 4K are not reading at a minimal level at 3rd grade, then what do we say the 4K accomplished? Made them slightly less illiterate?

                  A program like this has to demonstrate results. And it can’t be short term subjective or anecdotal in nature. If we’re spending tax dollars on it, prove it works… a 4K participant who fails the PASS test at 3rd grade is not a sign of success. Those should be easy numbers to acquire: # of students who passed / # of students who attended. If the failure rate isn’t significantly better than kids of similar economic background, then what’s the point?

                5. Scout

                  Doug, you have your wish. This is the first year that the kids who were in 4k when Read to Succeed was passed are now in 3rd grade. They will be the first class who will not be promoted if they do not make a certain level of proficiency on SC READY ELA test. (PASS is for science and social studies – READY is for Reading and Math).

                6. Scout

                  “If the failure rate isn’t significantly better than kids of similar economic background, then what’s the point?”

                  Parent education, child’s quality of life, getting the kid further along than he otherwise would have gotten, allowing the kid to feel successful in kindergarten and not have his first school experience be negative – thus potentially coloring the rest of his school career, improved oral language skills (not measured by state testing), improved social emotional skills (i.e.self regulation/managing peer relationships) (not measured by state testing) – both of which lead to more functional life skills (also not measured by state testing)….to name a few.

                  I suspect you’ll say these things don’t matter.

                  we disagree.

        2. Doug Ross

          According to the SC Dept of Education 2017 report cards, 568 8th grade students in Richland 2 failed the English portion of the PASS test. Do these students still move on to high school? If so, we’re setting them up for failure. Basic literacy has to be a minimum requirement. If the test shows they can’t read, they should not be pushed along.

          Maybe we need to use some carrot / stick approach – no participation in middle school/ high school extra curricular activities without a passing score on the 8th grade English exam. How many local football and basketball programs would be severely impacted by such a requirement? Too bad.

          1. Norm Ivey

            First, there is such a requirement. Students must have C or better in all classes the semester before the sport’s season in order to participate.

            Whether we promote those 568 students or not is not the point. The point is what are we going to do to help them become successful? Making them sit in middle school another year does nothing for them. We should meet their needs whether they are at Dent or RNHS.

            I’ll concede that we do not always give those kids the attention and services they need. But that costs money.

      2. Norm Ivey

        You make them accessible by lowering tuition, even f you raise taxes to do it.

  3. Claus2

    How about starting by not giving Pastides a raise or six/seven-figure deferred compensation package every time he agrees with the Board of Trustees. The raises Pastides received in the past decade could probably fund the salaries of more faculty, more staff, building repairs or tuition reduction. Pastides must have compromising photos of BOT members to be getting away with the salary he’s receiving.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Maybe. But a big part of the job now is fund-raising, since the Legislature won’t pony up. And Harris raises a lot of money — a lot more than he’s paid.

      CEOs who bring in the revenue tend to get compensated accordingly.

      It’s kind of like when I worked for Pastides briefly right after leaving the paper. There was some fuss over at the State House about all the money he was supposedly paying me. But I have no qualms whatsoever about whether I was worth it, because I came up with the idea for a grant proposal, wrote it (the non-technical parts, that is — experts filled out the pages of forms after my narrative) and we learned the university was getting it just days before my 90-day contract ran out. And while it was a sum normally beneath the notice of a Major League fund-raiser like Harris, the grant amount was 16 times as much as my gross for those three months. So there…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I think you mean “Cue bud…” But “queue” is a good word, too…

          I like the British sense of it.

          After my father-in-law was captured at the Battle of the Bulge, he spent almost the rest of the war in a German POW camp. When he was released, he was off course starving, so when a Red Cross truck pulled up with food for the ex-prisoners, he ran toward it. The Englishwoman on the truck admonished him, “Queue up, mate. Queue up!” He had no idea what she was telling him. Then he noticed the British POWS (who had been imprisoned a lot longer than he had) lined up behind the truck…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Yes, and when you say “cue” someone, the phrase is from theater and the movies. It means give that person his cue to come on.

              That’s what you were saying, right, Claus? That my mention of people being worth their pay was bud’s cue to speak up and argue to the contrary?

              That’s the way I understood it, anyway. I’ve never heard of a queuing a person, but I’ve heard of cueing one…

    1. Doug Ross

      Does this require a law? Just shoot them down if they cross onto the property. And who cares if the FCC thinks they can stop prisons from blocking cellphones. Just do it and keep doing it..

        1. Doug Ross

          Not if it crosses onto prison property. Tough luck. Bang! Who’s going to complain? The guy trying to fly the contraband in? If you shoot one by mistake, reimburse the owner. Whole lot easier than trying to craft a law…

  4. Harry Harris

    On the college tuition subject, I’m going to be just plain mean. They spend too much money on things only tangentially connected to teaching students, and don’t spend that wisely. Why should ten students pay more than $100,000 in yearly tuition (not fees and housing)? Partly because schools have assistants to the Assistant VP for Development, etc. Partly because a full teaching load involves 12 to 15 contact (teaching) hours per week plus whatever else they do. At $45-60K per academic year, that’s about $188 per contact hour on the low side. The higher-paid professors make more than $100K and often teach fewer classes. A public school teacher with a PhD and 20 years experience might make $80K for 1170 “contact” hours, about $68 per teaching hour – for a much harder job. Every time a college opening occurs, you will see at least 20 or more qualified applicants, so no argument about supply issues need be offered. What do the colleges pay their adjunct staff? About $40 per contact hour?
    If a college advertises an administrative job, the number of applicants is huge, unless the word is out that the job is spoken for.
    I’ve watched education budget issues come and go for over 40 years. When money gets tight, public K-12 schools cut expenses and do more with less. Colleges just raise tuition and keep spending.

  5. Kathleen

    Thank you Scout for a very clear explanation of our K-4 situation. The only thing I might add is a reference to the availability variance between districts.
    Thank you Norm for highlighting the frequently inadequate intervention for poor readers. I have no hard data, merely years of observation as a student, volunteer, parent, parent of a teacher, and grandparent.

  6. Doug Ross

    According to Cindi Ross Scoppe’s column, Sheheen was one of 13 senators who say out on a vote that would allow voters to decide if the governor would appoint the Secretary of education. What’s his excuse? 4 more votes are needed.

    That would be a way to hold the governor accountable for the state’s education progress.

    Nikki Setzler sat it out too.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I’m sorry to here that. Democrats have long been resistant to that, for a number of reasons. This is mostly because a) they’ve long believed they have a better chance of electing a Democrat superintendent than governor, and b) they’re afraid of more governor’s like Sanford.

      But they’re wrong. The biggest piece of the executive branch needs to answer to the chief executive.

      1. Doug Ross

        What makes it worse is that he abstained from voting — a trick used to be able to say later that he didn’t vote against it. Can anyone get him to go on the record that he is opposed to letting the Governor fill the position?

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