|We should not accept 'minimally adequate'|
By Jim Rex, Spartanburg Herald-Journal
- Get to know your child's teachers, and work to establish open lines of communication with them and other school officials.
- Monitor your child's progress throughout the year.
- Show support for your child's academic and extracurricular endeavors.
- Encourage your child to exercise, get plenty of rest on school nights and eat a well-balanced diet.
- Remember to praise your child when he does well and to search for ways to help him when he is struggling.
- Ask teachers and school officials about projects and activities that would allow you to use your talents to become more involved in your child's education.
My goal as state superintendent of education is to help all South Carolina children succeed. We are focusing on accelerating innovation, increasing public school choice, refining accountability for maximum results with minimum testing, elevating and reinvigorating the teaching profession and providing fair, adequate and equitable funding for schools.
There's a great deal to celebrate:
- South Carolina is a national leader in single-gender education, with programs available in nearly 250 schools. Charter schools, magnet programs, Montessori schools, alternative schools and many other choice options are increasingly available.
- Accountability and testing reform was a big step forward during the 2008 General Assembly, reducing the testing burden for students and teachers and delivering more timely and useful information about student progress.
- Our students have exciting new curriculum offerings and online learning opportunities.
- We are developing TEACHouses - affordable, high-quality residences aimed at attracting teachers to rural districts. We are working to provide low-interest home loans to teachers. And thanks to a groundbreaking new partnership with Clemson University and The Cliffs Communities, we are developing a new Teacher Renewal Center in the Upstate.
But while public education is making tremendous progress, we also face numerous challenges. Poverty is increasingly pervasive, with one in four South Carolina children living in households where incomes average just over $20,000 a year. Not only do we need to expand early childhood initiatives to help guarantee that all students begin school ready to learn, but we also must fix South Carolina's unfair, unbalanced, inadequate and virtually incomprehensible system of funding public schools. It's not just about doing the right thing; it's about securing our state's economic future.
Right now, state law does not require good schools. The S.C. constitution requires only that schools be free and "minimally adequate."
Our children deserve better. I hope you will join me in demonstrating to the General Assembly that South Carolinians want to change the constitution.
There are three things you can do to help us get this amendment on the November 2010 general election ballot. First, join us in sending a message to the Legislature by signing the Goodbye Minimally Adequate petition (www.goodbyeminimallyadequate.com). Second, ask your friends and family members to help by sharing the Web site with them. Finally, contact your legislators and tell them that your standards and aspirations for our children are higher than "minimal."
Public education is the cornerstone of our democracy, and it is our obligation to ensure that every child receives a quality education, whether they live in Spartanburg or Allendale, Charleston or Bishopville.
Our young people shouldn't be shortchanged based on where they live. That's why I've convened a diverse group of public education supporters to develop a proposal for a more equitable system of funding. The time to do something is now because the education our young people receive today will help determine what South Carolina looks like for the next 40 or 50 years.
The 2008-09 school year presents a unique opportunity to erase from our state the shameful standard of "minimally adequate." It's also a chance to build upon our accomplishments as we continue working toward creating one of the most innovative and choice-driven school systems in the nation.
Together, we can.
Jim Rex is South Carolina's
Superintendent of Education
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