|Rex address District 7 teachers, Converse staff on back-to-school tour|
, Spartanburg Hearld Journal
District Superintendent Thomas White made the enthusiastic introduction, rallying teachers before the first day of school Tuesday.
“Thank you for calling me the PACT killer,” Rex said, “but I’m not, you all are.”
The state Legislature nixed the Palmetto Achievement Challenge Tests earlier this year in favor of a new assessment program that will be administered for the first time in spring 2009. Rex thanked the teachers for their support of the change, but asked that they do more.
“If we can do it with PACT, we can do it with lots of things in South Carolina,” he said.
Rex encouraged teachers to register to vote, and to actually cast their ballots. He also asked that they sign a petition to be presented to the state Legislature, lobbying the replacement of the “minimally adequate” education currently required by law with “a high quality education.” Rex is striving for 1 million signatures.
Rex also addressed the 3 percent state budget cuts approved earlier this week, totaling more than $73 million. The cut, on top of Act 388 that replaced property taxes with a penny sales tax to fund school operating budgets, creates a sizeable funding problem, Rex said.
“We have a broken system for how we fund our public schools, and it’s been that way for a long time,” he said.
Rex then added, “that penny is not coming close to what property taxes did to fund our public schools.”
He encouraged teachers to be proactive in preparing students for a competitive future. The approximately 700,000 students in South Carolina public schools are competing with students around the world. He said the way today’s student is educated ultimately outlines how the state will be governed for the next 50 years.
“I hope you’ll feel that sense of urgency as educators,” Rex said.
The superintendent will spend the next week delivering similar messages across the state. Other stops include Charleston, Summerton, Rock Hill, Florence and Greenville.
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