Educators slam bailout stance

  • Follow Metro

COLUMBIA --- Parents and teachers in a state with one of the nation's worst graduation rates are predicting their governor's vow to reject federal cash for schools will cost hundreds of teaching jobs, crowd classrooms and hurt poor children.

Republican Gov. Mark Sanford faces a deadline today to decide whether he will refuse $700 million in federal stimulus cash, primarily for education over two years, which he says would be better spent paying down bond debt.

Mr. Sanford says lawmakers are stoking fears and that state Senate budget writers aren't using other stimulus cash in their budget plans, which makes the consequences of his not taking some Washington money appear more dire.

He reiterated he won't take the stimulus cash unless it's used to pay down state bond debt.

"I understand the issue of trying to pay down debt. But it's akin to trying to pay off your mortgage while your kids are starving," said Frank Morgan, superintendent of schools in rural Kershaw County, which educates 13,000 children.

State education officials said that the reality is 5,200 school employees, including 2,700 teachers, will lose their jobs without the stimulus money. There are about 50,000 teachers statewide.

Even with the money, state schools chief Jim Rex said, districts will still need to eliminate 1,600 jobs.

Mr. Sanford says legislators can write an adequate budget without the money and dismisses a growing chorus as victims of political scare tactics.

"In fairness to the teachers, I would be frightened, too," the governor said a day after hundreds of educators rallied outside the Statehouse chanting "Pink slip Sanford."

Detractors counter that Mr. Sanford is trying to raise his national profile for a 2012 presidential bid and push an impractical libertarian philosophy that includes using taxpayer money to pay for private schools. He disputes that.

At issue is a portion of the $2.8 billion in stimulus cash intended for the recession-battered state, which had the nation's second-highest unemployment rate in February.

Ted Zee, a father from Lexington, brought his 10-year-old daughter to a rally at the Statehouse this week to protest Mr. Sanford's decision.

"I don't want her school to have 35 kids in a class," Mr. Zee said.

South Carolina's on-time graduation rate ranks among the nation's lowest. Officials say it's already tough to improve in a state with an ever-growing poverty problem. Nearly a quarter of schools statewide are in extreme poverty, with 90 percent or more students considered poor..

District officials said high schools won't be able to offer as many classes, and those with low enrollment, such as honor classes, could be among the first to go.

Comments (4) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
SCGAL53 04/03/09 - 06:43 am
Educators, students and

Educators, students and parents should all storm Sanford's office and protest.

karmakills123 04/03/09 - 08:27 am
What were they going to do if

What were they going to do if the porkulous bill had not passed?

3M3T1B 04/03/09 - 09:06 am
Gather up the torches and

Gather up the torches and pitchforks, Ma. It's time to storm the Ivory Tower.

APiratesLife4Me 04/03/09 - 03:35 pm
I apologize. I voted for

I apologize. I voted for this complete moron. Good riddance stupid.

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs
Top headlines
Hot temps increase worries about children left alone in cars
Despite continual warnings by police and child advocates, the number of children dying in hot cars is already close to surpassing last year with five months left in 2016.