Opinion: Top 7 ways to spend $1B on S.C. public education

By S.C. Education Policy Fellowship Program
Posted 5/16/19

For the past year, South Carolina Future Minds Executive Director Caroline Mauldin has had the privilege of gathering once a month with some of South Carolina's finest leaders in public education through the S.C. Education Policy Fellowship Program. …

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Opinion: Top 7 ways to spend $1B on S.C. public education

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For the past year, South Carolina Future Minds Executive Director Caroline Mauldin has had the privilege of gathering once a month with some of South Carolina's finest leaders in public education through the S.C. Education Policy Fellowship Program. Below is a summary of their final group project, as presented on Twitter.

Our project was inspired by 2017's Study Committee Report on Teacher Recruitment and Retention, as mandated by the General Assembly, and the news earlier this year that the state of South Carolina had a $1 billion surplus to work with.

We decided to focus on solutions beyond the obvious (and underappreciated) need to increase teacher salaries. Here's what we came up with:

Fund #CallMeMISTER. Call Me MISTER's mission is to increase the number of diverse teachers in low-performing schools. MISTERs have a 95% retention rate in the classroom. $100 million (10% of the surplus) would have funded 10,000 MISTERs. (Hat tip to the $5 million line-item in this year's budget.)

Bring public education branding into the 21st century. S.C. has programs that encourage middle and high school students to teach. The only problem: No one knows about them. A fraction of the surplus could have rebranded public ed, including micro-targeting students and parents.

Help people enter the teaching profession. Can't blame folks for avoiding a career that is perceived as overworked and underpaid, particularly when they would enter saddled by student debt. About one-third of the surplus would have covered four-year tuition for 3,000 teacher prep students.

Forgive loans of current teachers. Speaking of student loans, $1 billion would have covered about $20,000 in student loans for every one of South Carolina's 52,000 teachers.

Expand ADEPT (Assist, Develop and Evaluate New Teachers). Early career teachers are leaving the profession at an alarming rate, in part because we do not provide adequate support for them in their first and second years. 1% of the surplus could have funded ADEPT for every first- and second-year teacher in S.C.

Incentivize National Board Certification. Studies show that NBC teachers are more effective in the classroom and more likely to stay in the profession. 10% of the surplus would have paid for National Board Certification for every teacher in S.C.

Fund base student cost. S.C. has not fully funded its education formula since '07-'08, further perpetuating inequities among districts (including funds available to pay teachers). Less than half of the surplus would have made up for the BSC shortfall and paid for unfunded mandates.

Disclaimer: We know education funding isn't that simple.

The thing is - we know how to recruit and retain teachers. And this year we had the money. But not enough of the surplus is going to these programs.

So we ask: What happened?

Co-creators of this article are Jill Callais of SCSBA, Samantha Carlisle of South Kilbourne Elementary, Johnathan Graves of Greenwood 50, Toneka Green of East Point Academy, Joya Gregg of Richland One, Sherrie Snipes-Williams of Charleston Promise Neighborhood and Sandra Williams of Spartanburg One.