July 18, 2004
high schools need attention
SC Statehouse Report
18, 2004 - - Politicians talk all of the time about helping
young kids to learn by giving them a better start with better
teachers and smaller classrooms.
But a new report suggests leaders throughout the South are
failing another group that is key to the region's future economic
success: high school students.
It's as if students from an early age get attention and generate
the kind of excitement that a football team has as it drives
toward the goal line. But when those students get to high
school, the team fumbles and just can't score.
"High schools don't fail only minority and low-income
students - - they fail to engage and inspire many middle-class
and affluent students as well," according to the recently-issued
State of the South 2004 report by a Chapel Hill, N.C., think
tank. "The South needs its high schools to provide more
vibrant options for teenagers, and it needs high schools that
are better aligned with the demands of a rapidly changing
Consider that about nine out of 10 students attend public
schools. In South Carolina, only 57 percent of ninth graders
end up graduating from high school - - one of the lowest ratings
in the South, according to the Manhattan Institute.
The reason this is such a big deal is that the South and
its economy are changing dynamically, as explained by MDC
Inc.'s David Dodson, president of the think tank that developed
the 80-page report:
"Demographic analysis tells us that the South will draw
on black and Latino workers in ever higher numbers as our
region grows and our native-born workforce ages. Yet the people
we will call on more than ever to run our factories, deliver
our health care, and manage our government are the students
that the South educates most poorly today.
WORLD: Taking the temperature
On education, Kerry
Winners and losers of the past week
encourage your feedback. If you'd like to respond to
something in SC Statehouse Report, please
send us an e-mail. We reserve the right to edit for
length and clarity. One submission allowed per month.
Submission of a comment grants permission to us to reprint.
Please keep your comment to 250 words or less:
"Economic necessity compels the South to stretch for
universal excellence in public education."
A lot of what South Carolina has been doing lately is right
in schools, said noted South Carolina-born education reform
consultant David Condon of Alexandria, Va. Schools are offering
a better curriculum in general - - some 94 percent of S.C.
high schools offer at least one advanced placement course,
which is the highest rate among Southern states.
Also, South Carolina has good standards for all students
who are on academic, or career and technical tracks. The more
that standards can be tied to classroom teaching and help
students think critically, the better, Condon said.
One of the biggest areas with which the state can help high
school students is to provide more guidance counselors, experts
say. They need incentives to help all students, not just top-performing
students. And they need to work with students from the beginning
of high school to develop an educational plan based on goals
during the time they're studying.
"Adolescents need stronger connections with adults,"
said report co-author Ferrel Guillory of the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Guidance counselors can
serve as powerful connectors - and the South should adopt
a new model for guidance of students."
Other strategies that can be employed to strengthen high
- Provide students with more options in what to study and
where the study. For example, Southern communities should
test alternative models for high schools, the report says.
- Strive for better accountability and measurement that
goes beyond single standardized tests. Ensure high school
coursework and standards are linked as much as possible.
Similarly, use contextual training techniques to allow students
to use skills learned across courses. For example, if students
are studying about animals and plants in lakes, teachers
also might want to have them figure out the volume of the
lake by using skills from math class.
- Get rid of high-poverty schools to end ethnic and social
isolation. "Achievement suffers in schools packed with
students from low-income families," Guillory said.
"Their achievement rises when they go to school with
- Provide better-trained teachers, particularly at the most
For state lawmakers, it's time to put more focus on high
school students and to provide more tools and strategies to
allow them to achieve better. To fail to do so will hurt the
state in the long run.
7/18: Campaign roller-coaster
This week's cartoon by our Bill McLemore:
LEARN MORE DAILY
best way to get South Carolina news is to augment your morning
paper and TV show with SC Clips, a daily executive
news summary compiled from more than 30 state newspaper and
TV sources. It's delivered every business day and is packed
with news of statewide impact, politics, business and more.
Subscriptions are affordable at $30 per month -- and less
for business subscribers. More: SC
Education column was a joke
To the editor:
I've just read your article (Commentary,
6/20) and have this to say: When are the pro-government
education types, (apparently like yourself) are going to get
it through your heads money is not the problem? I have spoken
with educators in Charleston County and the great great majority
are simply fed-up with the screwed system.
How much money Mr. Brack do you think the taxpayers should
dish out for public education? Ex. A 1st grade 30 pupil class
with $8,000 per year per pupil; that's $240,000 per year.
Do you think that's enough? How much do you think an 8 month
a year working teacher should make? Now personally, your article
is a joke like many in The Post and Courier, always
more money with no reasonable accounting of where or how this
money should or could be spent. Just take more money.
-- Jeff Sechrest, Charleston, SC
7/11: Need a new president
Enjoyed your comments on the presidential race. (Commentary,
7/11). As for this South Carolinian, Bush is the worst
president in my lifetime (I have working memory back to Eisenhower!)
and I will work to defeat him. The code words, the incessant
lying, the pandering and the tendency to cloak proposals in
the vestments of God are awfully tiresome for me. I agree
that Edwards will make the race competitive in many states
where it might not have been close.
We need a president who will take on the problems and dangers
of the world in a way other than the ideological and strictly
political approach of this crowd.
-- Dean Schuyler
Kerry will win
Good analysis. What is interesting in a poll out today is
the undecided vote overall is less than 15%! That means that
about 85%-90% of voters have already made up their minds,
regardless. And, it's only July. So, all the rhetoric will
be aimed at
keeping ones base, making sure they vote and then going after
only 10%-15% of people on the fence. Bush will have to attack.
Kerry will be better not to respond in kind. Talk about a
Since Kerry has a 4%-6% lead look for that to remain reasonably
constant, barring any national calamity. Also, we may have
a terrorist attack before the election but non-conventional
wisdom says no. An attack now can only be viewed as helping
Bush. He can then say "I told you so". Of course,
many believe he played into the terrorist hands by giving
them a cause to advertise the United States as the evil imperialists.
So, I'm sure the terrorists are actively debating who
they would rather see as President. I believe they will hold
off and deal with a new administration, despite the gift Bush
Projection, Kerry wins by about 30-40 electoral votes. He
wins Florida and North Carolina, plus one or two other southern
-- Jim Brooks, Greenville, SC
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Tobacco farmers. A federal quota buyout will pump
about $1 billion into pockets of SC farmers, which could help
save family farms.
Tenenbaum, Sanford. Both have $2 million in their
campaign coffers for different elections.
Kuhn. Sanford spokesman Will Folks (below) is right
-- Sen. John Kuhn's whining about why he lost his primary
election is sour grapes.
State leaders. Now state employees face higher health
insurance premiums -- as if they haven't been feeling threatened
How you can subscribe to the full edition
of the report
The above version of S.C. Statehouse Report is the
free edition. Our paid version, which costs about $100 per
month, offer a weekly legislative forecast packed with information
that can keep you and your business on the cutting edge.
Notes veteran lawmaker Sen. Glenn McConnell: "Statehouse
Report gives an inside practical report of weekly problems
with and progress of legislation. It reviews the whole landscape."
In each issue of Statehouse Report, you'll get::
Hot issue -- an early peek at weekly commentary
on something really big. Last year, we continually beat
other news organizations in finding major trends in issues,
from teacher and budget cuts to wetlands proposals.
Agenda -- a weekly forecast of the coming week's
Radar Screen -- a behind-the-scenes look at what's
really going on in the General Assembly
McLemore's World -- an early view of our respected
cartoonist Bill McLemore.
Tally Sheet -- a weekly review of all of the new
bills introduced in the legislature in everyday language
Scorecard -- A Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down of major
political/policy events for the week.
Calendar -- a weekly list of major meetings for
the House, Senate and state agencies.
Megaphone -- a quote of the week that you'll find
To learn more about subscriptions, contact Andy Brack at: