Sunday, January 29, 2006

Jenny Sanford on her children's education: "I get one shot at it."

A recent story on ABC's 20/20 by John Stossel titled, "Stupid in America," may be one of the most important you will ever watch. A part of the program deals with...
When the Sanford family moved from Charleston to Columbia, S.C., the family had a big concern: Where would the kids go to school? In most places, you must attend the public school in the zone where you live, but the middle school near the Sanford's new home was rated below average.

It turned out, however, that this didn't pose a problem for this family, because the reason the Sanfords moved to Columbia was that Mark Sanford had been elected governor. He and his wife were invited to send their kids to schools in better districts.

Sanford realized how unfair the system was. "If you can buy a $250,000 or $300,000 house, you're gonna get some great public education," Gov. Sanford said. Or if you have political connections.

The Sanfords decided it was unfair to take advantage of their position as "first family" and ended up sending their kids to private school. "It's too important to me to sacrifice their education. I get one shot at it. If I don't pay very close attention to how my boys get educated then I've lost an opportunity to make them the best they can be in this world," Jenny Sanford said.
If you haven't seen the program, click on the link. and watch it. How we create innovation in publicly funded education is the most critical education issue we face across the country.


Scott Means said...

I saw that, and I'm continually amazed at the support that the public educational establishment receives when it's clearly not serving its constituents. I'm on the board of a very small non-profit private school in Columbia that's facing bankruptcy because many "regular" families have trouble coming up with the $6,000 per year tuition. In the meantime, the public schools are spending $9,000 per student per year, and we're still virtually dead last in academics in the nation. The work that the kids in our school can do is outstanding. In fact, the team that we fielded in the FIRST Lego Robotics League this year won a 1st Place Judge's Award, beating out many public schools in a state-wide competition. But this school is failing, and the public schools just seem to grow bigger and more elaborate. The only thing they seem to be missing is the ability to spark the love of learning that the many small private schools seem to have no trouble creating.

concerned citizen said...

One shot at it indeed.

While attending a recent economic-development event, presentations given touched on the fact that there are many areas in the state that are grossly impoverished and are 'considered' major drags on the state's economy (e.g. crime, unemployement, etc.).

During a break, I asked one of the state's long-time leaders in ED field this question: "regarding the state's dillemma of limited resources and the issue of the haves & have-not's (i.e. low tax base, inferior schoool systems/districts, etc.), what is the policy solution that you beleive our state leaders should pursue to achieve superior & sustainable economic development ?"

My colleague, noting my sincerity, thought about the question for a moment, and then gave a sincere answer in return. The answer given was "triage,,,, we must have the courage to write-off those burdened areas and focus time & resources on the ones where we can see results."

I pondered his answer for a while because i DID want to know what responsible leaders should be doing, and, because the answer bothered me at some unconscious level. That is to say, I knew the answer was WRONG both strategically and morally, but wasn't ready to put it into words.

Utilizing the best that 'Sytems Theory' had to offer, I had my answer befor the end of the session.

The STRATEGIC reasons why the policy is wrong, is that IF our state intends to write-off literally thousands of its citizens (particularly the next generation e.g. poorly educated & school drop-outs), our state will not be able to secure its own prosperity (due largely to a drag on the state's resources, & perhaps more importantly, a relatively poor reputation affecting an inability to attract lucrative new enterprise, and retain it brightest talent, etc.),,,,

and because, it is our entire state that will then be 'triaged' by the rest of the country, (e.g. Federal Government, Industry Leaders, etc.).

SIDE BAR: I will leave the MORAL reasons why such things as inequality of educational opportunities is wrong for others to ponder.

With that said, I will go on record to say that it is imperative that ALL responsible leaders of ALL factions in our state (e.g. Democrats, Republicans, poor districts, rich districts, etc.) come together and intensify the search for meaningful dialogue vis-a-vis partisan 'discussion.'

That is to say, they/we must collaboratively find a way through these 'apparent' dillemmas and find true solutions that are strategically and morally superior.

And if we don't, we will continue to be 'triaged' by the rest of the country; and thus, dismissed to scramble for the crumbs of prosperity.

Indeed, with the increasing intensity of global competition wiping away our nations relative monopoly on '20th century prosperity,' we might only get one relative chance to get it right for the 21st century & beyond.

Anonymous said...

If my memory serves, none of the Sanford children was old enough to attend middle school at the time Mr. Sanford took office. What were the ratings for the public elementary school that the children would have attended if the Sanfords had chosen public school? If Mr. Stossels is going to be critical of public education, which is certainly his right, he should at least bring relevant facts to bear on his arguments.