Greene fuzzy on data he quoted

COLUMBIA --- In his first campaign speech over the weekend, U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene pledged to get South Carolina back to work and decried the state's bottom-of-the-barrel employment and public education rankings.


But an analysis by The Associated Press shows Greene's claims don't always match the facts.

Greene, who won a shocking victory over a former state lawmaker in the June 8 Democratic primary, avoided any major gaffes during his speech Sunday before the local NAACP branch in Manning.

Reached at his home in Manning on Monday, Greene said he relied on several sources for information.

"Research, multiple sources, everything, news. All of the above," Greene said, adding that he had help with the speech but refusing to say from whom.

Below, some of Greene's claims and how they compare with reality:

GREENE: There are more people unemployed in South Carolina than ever before.

FACT: While South Carolina's unemployment rate has mirrored a recent rise nationally, the state's employment picture has steadily improved over the past year. The total number of unemployed people in South Carolina peaked in January, when 273,000 people were without jobs, or 12.6 percent. But as of May, that number was down to 238,000, or 11 percent.

GREENE: South Carolina has the highest high school dropout rate and ranks 49th in the country in both overall education and standardized test scores.

FACT: States and research groups use a hodgepodge of methods to calculate graduation rates. While some reports have ranked South Carolina's on-time graduation rate as among the nation's lowest, it mirrors the national average in others.

Under a new national calculation standard, which includes actually tracking students who transfer to different schools, South Carolina's 2009 on-time graduation rate is 74 percent.

The state ranks 13th of the 19 states that use the new federal calculation, which all states must use by 2011.

There is no general ranking of state education systems. Each state sets its own standards and proficiency levels, making state-by-state testing comparisons impossible.

South Carolina does rank 47th in SAT scores. But the College Board, which administers the test, discourages such comparisons because the percentage of students who take the test varies widely from state to state.

GREENE: South Carolina has implemented record cuts in education spending.

FACT: This is true. John Cooley, the budget director for the state Education Department, says the magnitude and severity of cuts since 2008 are historic. Even after federal stimulus money is factored in to the 2010-11 budget, districts are expected to receive $700,000 less in state and federal money this school year than in 2007-08.

GREENE: South Carolina spends twice as much per inmate as it does per public school student.

FACT: South Carolina spends more money per inmate than per student, but the figure is far from double.



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