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Saturday, March 9, 2019

Will Public Education Improve After Legislation?

SC Legislators in the House have passed House Bill 3759 entitled “SC Career Opportunity and Access For All” with only 3 no votes. The companion bill in the Senate under the same name is S.419 and is undergoing intense scrutiny. The Senate education subcommittee will hold three more hearings in March around the state before the final bill is sent to the full Senate Education Committee and on to the floor for debate. It is imperative our SC Legislators get this right and not rush a decision that can affect children's lives and future for decades. 

A recent survey on social media by this reporter revealed that 96% of those South Carolinians surveyed through several Facebook group pages had no confidence that the passed version of House Bill 3759 would actually improve education in SC. That is an overwhelming thumbs down in voter confidence of this legislation. Our legislators need to pay attention to their constituents!

This latest attempt by our legislators to control the direction of public education and push for more centralization of power in their 80+ page document had no original input from parents. SC House Legislators held one hearing open to public which was well attended by teachers and parents who gave them an earful of their objections to this ill formed legislation. The legislators debated for 6 hours before their final votes took place on March 7th with an overwhelming majority patting themselves on the back saying they were satisfied. 

This final bill passed in the House would raise teacher starting salaries to $35,000 as well as remove some unnecessary testing, and included an attempt to make improvements to Read to Succeed. The bill also had several amendments offered and the bill came away with the following additions, a Teachers’ Bill of Rights with a guaranteed 30 minute teacher break away from students daily, and an income tax break worth the value of the property taxes of the teachers who live and work in SC's poorest rural counties. Also included in those final amendments is a United States Parents Involved in Education (USPIE) proposal made by Rep. Josiah Magnuson for a cost analysis for the Federal Compliance mandates that are attached to Federal funds SC receives. USPIE endeavors to return local, parental and community control of education. This amendment included in the bill will set us SC on the path to hopefully eliminating all federal education mandates by showing we truly can refuse federal funding that comes with those costly mandates and become more independent in our education policies going forward. The latest national census report showed SC only receives 4.95% of its education budget from federal sources but yet federal government is overwhelmingly in control over what is being taught and how in our SC classrooms. USPIE has advocated for an end to any Federal overreach into what should be a states' right issue.

United States Parents Involved in Education(USPIE) has been very outspoken on their concerns with SC Legislators' attempt at education reform to improve public school education ratings from being at the bottom of the nation. USPIE is a nonprofit,nationwide coalition of state leaders focused on returning control of education to parents and local communities by eradicating federal intrusion. State parental leaders from around the country who are fed up with being ignored on education policy have joined forces to abolish the US Dept of Education and put an end to all federal education mandates. It is USPIE's belief that our stagnant test scores,declining academic achievement, and wasteful spending of tax dollars can be solved by restoring parental authority over their children's education and returning education decisions to parents and the local communities where it belongs.

Other than the cost analysis of the Federal Compliance mandates, USPIE is pushing for the following changes in this present legislation.

  1. Strike the entire Zero to Twenty Committee section of the bill as this Committee doubles down on the workforce development model being driven by the federal government. This failed education model is predicated upon massive data collection of children from before birth into adulthood. This Zero to Twenty Committee is designed to breakdown and share data silos in order to track children out of the womb through age 20. Creating another politically appointed committee that is charged with data collection is a government invasion of children's privacy and should be stricken from the bill immediately.

  2. Strike the Competency-based Educationsection of the bill. Common Core was only the forerunner to Competency-based Education (CBE). CBE is the latest national/global education band-wagon which is nothing more than the failed outcome based education of the 90's. CBE was added to the House version and embeds online formative tests in everyday learning which undermines children's privacy. It is entirely computer-based curriculum and eliminates the need for direct instruction from a qualified teacher and teachers become just facilitators/babysitters. There are no textbooks and therefore the parent has no knowledge of what lessons are being presented to their child.

  3. Change the State Board of Educationfrom appointed to elected positions by judicial districts. In order to restore local, parental, and community control of education, there has to be more direct accountability to parents, teachers and taxpayers of SC for the policy decisions being made. A fundamental step toward restoring local control and accountability to the major stakeholders is to ELECT the State Board of Education based on judicial circuit districts.

Decentralization of education is the key to any successful legislation. It is imperative we close the Federal government's stranglehold through their mandates over truly returning local control over SC children's future and education. SC could lead the way and become the first state in the nation to not accept any federal funding for education. We could truly not be tied down to Common Core aligned testing mandates and faulty globalist standards which are failing children in our classrooms. Teachers could teach again. And local school boards would be empowered by parents and taxpayers to choose the curriculum that best suits the needs of their community.

The ultimate goal should be local, parental, and community control. This present legislation doesn't address that at all, in fact it does the opposite by doubling down on top down control. Parents are not being treated as a major stakeholder in their child's education and this must change.

The present Education Oversight Committee as well as the SC State Board of Education are filled with politically appointed committee members and there is zero direct accountability to the taxpayers. These appointed people have failed for decades to get SC public school education on the right track. It is time to change the governance structure and eliminate Federal strangleholds. Merely paying teachers more and giving them a 30 minute break isn't going to achieve the results of a quality education for SC children. Contact your SC Columbia Senator today and tell them they better get this legislation right or you will hold them accountable for their failure at the ballot box. For more information on United States Parents Involved in Education visit their web page: www.uspie.org

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