First Education Reform Bills in SC House

By Paul Gable

Eight bills were introduced into the SC House this week in what was called part of the first phase of the House Education Reform Package.

On first glance, it seems House education reform means more bureaucracy.

One proposal calls for the establishment of an authority that could borrow money on the state’s behalf to spend on school facilities. This is seen as a means for school districts with low tax bases to obtain money to repair deteriorating school buildings.

Another bill calls for recreating the Education and Economic Development Coordinating Council in an effort to “ensure our students are college and career ready.”

This goes along with a bill that would redefine the expectations of a South Carolina high school graduate. Sounds like the “minimally adequate education” that is now called for in state law is no longer good enough.

The bill that bothers me the most is H. 4777 that would allow the state to take over a school district that is failing financially. This has been tried in other states with minimal success at best.

I could be wrong, but these proposals sound like centralization of decision making, centralization of goals and centralization of new financial resources.

Historically, the SC General Assembly has sought to keep as much power and control in its hands as possible while giving only lip service to smaller government and home rule.

This sounds like more of the same.

The new bills on education:

1)   H. 4783 – Redefine the expectations of a South Carolina high school graduate

2)   H. 4781- Recreate the Education and Economic Development Coordinating Council to allow the business community to work with K-12 and higher education to ensure our students are college and career ready

3)   H. 4780 – Eliminate outdated statutes to promote efficiency and cut unnecessary expenses.  State Department would be required to offer technical assistance to struggling districts

4)   H. 4779 – Create an Office of Transformation under the Department of Education with the purpose of reviewing lower performing school districts’ plans and report back to the General Assembly with best practice suggestions

5)   H. 4776 – Establish a process with recurring revenue where struggling and poor school districts can petition the state for facility infrastructure needs

6)   H. 4778 – Call for uniformity in school accreditation

7)   H. 4782 – Conduct a survey to determine what incentives could entice new teachers to live and work in rural, lower income districts

8)   H. 4777 – Allow the state to take control if a school district is failing financially


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