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Betsy Combier

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The E-Accountability Foundation announces the

'A for Accountability' Award

to those who are willing to whistleblow unjust, misleading, or false actions and claims of the politico-educational complex in order to bring about educational reform in favor of children of all races, intellectual ability and economic status. They ask questions that need to be asked, such as "where is the money?" and "Why does it have to be this way?" and they never give up. These people have withstood adversity and have held those who seem not to believe in honesty, integrity and compassion accountable for their actions. The winners of our "A" work to expose wrong-doing not for themselves, but for others - total strangers - for the "Greater Good"of the community and, by their actions, exemplify courage and self-less passion. They are parent advocates. We salute you.

Winners of the "A":

Johnnie Mae Allen
David Possner
Dee Alpert
Joan Klingsberg
Harris Lirtzman
Hipolito Colon
Jim Calantjis
Larry Fisher
The Giraffe Project and Giraffe Heroes' Program
Jimmy Kilpatrick and George Scott
Zach Kopplin
Matthew LaClair
Wangari Maathai
Erich Martel
Steve Orel, in memoriam, Interversity, and The World of Opportunity
Marla Ruzicka, in Memoriam
Nancy Swan
Bob Witanek
Peyton Wolcott
[ More Details » ]
Put Parents In Charge Act in South Carolina Demands Accountability For School Choice

No School Choice Without Accountability
State should attach strings to parental subsidies
EDITORIAL,, Dec. 26, 2004


We're all aware that two people looking at the same facts can reach drastically different conclusions about what they mean. But when the facts have to do with the performance of the S.C. public schools and the two people reaching disparate conclusions about them are S.C. representatives, you have to wonder whether one has a personal agenda blinds him to the facts' true meaning.

Readers of The Sun News have had access to the two representatives' thinking during the past six days. On today's Op-Ed Page, S.C. Rep. John Graham Altman, R-Charleston, argues that the public schools' "dismal achievement levels" justify passage of Gov. Mark Sanford's Put Parents in Charge Act. That bill, to be debated in the 2005 General Assembly, would accord private-school-tuition state and local tax credits to S.C. parents unhappy with the public schools.

On Tuesday's editorial page, in "Thanks to those who improve S.C. education," S.C. Rep. Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, concluded that the General Assembly's investment in public schools has paid off big time. Harrell, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, cited the 2004 state school report card results, a measure of school improvement, as proof that legislative "investments in [school] accountability are yielding the success our state deserves." He adds: "Despite increasing rigor in the rating scale, [S.C.] schools performed at a higher level than ever before."

Readers can decide for themselves which legislator has the right take on school quality. But because Harrell's conclusions are grounded in carefully collected and honestly compiled data about each S.C. student's progress in math, reading, writing, science and social studies, we're inclined to conclude that it's Altman who is off base.

That gentleman's conclusions about S.C. public school quality stem from an unintegrated pastiche of edu-factoids - last in the nation on SATs, last in high school graduation, only one in four eighth-graders proficient in reading and writing. He would have us believe that S.C. children are lucky if they learn anything of value in a public school, when, in fact, the report cards confirm that the typical S.C. schoolchild learns quite a bit.

Why would Altman, an intelligent man and former local school board member, do this? We can only speculate, but by implying (falsely) that the report-card system isn't working, he appears to be trying to steer readers past the chief political obstacle to passage of the Put Parents in Charge bill. Its lacks meaningful accountability measures. The bill's supporters believe parental satisfaction should be the only "accountability" measure required of private schools that collect state subsidies.

Critics of the bill, us included, argue that tax-credit-supported private schools should take part in the report-card system. After all, supporters depict Put Parents in Charge as a public school improvement strategy grounded in the power of competition. If that's so, why not use the report-card system that so dramatically has moved the public-school performance needle to assess the competence of state-subsidized private schools?

The report-card system, of which Harrell was an author, came into being to show - not tell - S.C. taxpayers that they were getting value for their investment in public schools. All of us would shoulder the cost of Put Parents in Charge, by assuming the tax burden lifted off the shoulders of disaffected parents. Only by requiring private schools that accept tax-credit dollars to join the report-card system can legislators ensure that Put Parents in Charge is as educationally useful as Altman insists it would be.

© 2003 The E-Accountability Foundation