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Rex’s State of Education address

June 19, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008/ Rex’s State of Education address

Rex applauds local reform efforts, asks educators to help improve
funding system 

MYRTLE BEACH - State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex today thanked
educators for supporting public school reform during his 18 months in
office and asked for their help in the upcoming effort to pass a fairer,
more equitable K-12 funding system. 

Rex, speaking to more than 1,800 school principals and other educators
gathered for the annual School Leadership Institute, was making his
second State of Education Address. He said the recent passage of
legislation that revamps South Carolina’s accountability system and
replaces unpopular PACT testing is “a great example of what we can
accomplish when we work together.”

Accountability and testing reform is one of the five steps for public
school improvement that Rex announced when he took office in January
2007.  While progress is taking place on other goals including more
public school choice, accelerating innovation and elevating the teaching
profession, Rex said the state’s “dysfunctional” way of raising
and spending money for schools needs attention next.

“Our K-12 funding system is part of a statewide tax structure
that’s in desperate need of comprehensive repair,” Rex said.
“Rather than fixing it, we’ve tinkered with piecemeal changes
that make the system more complex, more unbalanced and less
understandable.”

Rex has task forces working on fair and equitable funding
recommendations and he endorses a movement to amend wording in the
state’s constitution to ensure that South Carolina’s children
receive more than a “minimally adequate” education.  He asked his
audience to join this campaign because “our kids don’t deserve
‘minimally adequate.’  They deserve the very best.”        

Rex also urged local educators to work at the grassroots level to build
support for funding reform in the next legislative session.  

“This issue may be fraught with difficulties and internally we may
disagree on some points, but it’s up to us to work together,” Rex
said.  “We’re going to have to look beyond ourselves, beyond our
individual schools and school districts, and work to put a better
funding system in place.  We may be uncomfortable in the short term, but
in the long run it will be the only thing that saves our state from
ruin.”

Rex’s remarks came after an introductory video that recapped action
on his school reform steps to date, with highlights including:
●	Creating a new Office of Innovation and Support at the South
Carolina Department of Education
●	Expansion of the virtual schools program 
●	Working with Palmetto Priority Schools to raise achievement at
historically under-performing schools 
●	A diesel-electric hybrid school bus pilot program 
●	A One Laptop Per Child pilot program in Marion County schools
●	Establishing a New Office of Public School Choice
●	Becoming a national trailblazer in single-gender education
●	Hiring a statewide coordinator for Montessori education
programs
●	Public School Choice Innovation grants to districts
●	Establishing a Teacher Renewal Center for renewed commitment and
reenergizing for classroom professionals 
●	A marketing campaign to raise awareness of teaching careers
●	Expanding a performance pay program for school personnel
●	Partnering with the State Housing Authority to offer
low-interest home loans for teachers
●	Expansion of 4K programs
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