Serious Question on Education


The news is rife with tales of funding woes all over the state of South Carolina. My wife’s district is the largest in the state. Two years ago, they hired around 550 teachers. Last year, the number was down to 220. This year, with all the cuts projected and the increases in class sizes, speculation is NO teachers will be hired. Folks will just get moved around until things work as best they can.

One neighboring district is reducing the teacher force by 115 positions. Another district, and a small one at that, is cutting 65 jobs. My former district told every first and second year teacher and every retired teacher back in March that none of them would get a contract for the upcoming year and at least ten or twenty of the remaining handful of positions are being eliminated.

It is so bad that even here in the depths of the football crazy South, talk has turned to eliminating sports and other extracurricular activities in a last ditch attempt to make ends meet. Folks, when the wild eyed Southern boys start talking about doing away with football, you can say that the Apocalypse surely draweth nigh.

Every edition of the local paper speaks to teacher layoffs and teacher pay cuts and the increasingly dire situation of the classrooms. Of course, the comments and letters sections are also full of people saying their taxes are too high and teachers need to quit crying and be thankful they have a job at all.

To top matters off, all projections for the state revenue stream point to matters getting WORSE next year. A colleague of mine from my former district has been in every position from classroom teacher to district superintendent since he entered education in 1962. He is now the CFO for the district more or less part time. According to his long memory, this current “slump” is the worst he has EVER seen. If funding levels were restored tonight, he thinks it would take at least four to five years for the damage to BEGIN to be undone.

So that’s the preamble. Here’s the question: What is the worst case scenario in education?

I mean, what happens once there is no money in any pots to pay for anything including teacher salary, light bills, paper, etc? It looks to be headed that way in this state right now at a rapid pace. Does anyone out there know of what happens when a state’s educational funding goes belly up? Do schools shut down? CAN schools shut down?

If anyone out there has any knowledge of what can or maybe has happened in the past, please leave a comment and please pass this on the educational grapevine. Are other states anywhere near this bad of shape? I know Kansas City (one of them anyway) shut half the schools down and consolidated students. Is anything else like that going on under the national radar? I don’t think the nation has any idea just how bad the situation is South Carolina. I’m trying to get the word out to see if there is any hope.

If you know anything . . . please tell me so I can pass the word along. I’ve got a LOT of scared people around me.

Love y’all.

One response »

  1. Shannon, when you find answers to your questions, please let me know. My position as a media specialist was just cut, so the job hunt begins anew for me. It is so frustrating to see our state lawmakers feuding about a paltry cigarette tax while remaining silent on the state of education funding. I don’t know that public education in our state can ever recover when our elected officials make it abundantly clear that they don’t care about providing adequate funding for our schools. As it is, some of the most talented and dedicated educators I know (I’m including both of us in that category) are getting sick of being undervalued and are getting out. I’m honestly terrified for the future of public education if current trends are allowed to continue.

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