COLUMBIA, SC — Gov. Nikki Haley said Friday that several dozen teachers will serve as her advisers as she develops a plan for overhauling how South Carolina’s public schools are funded.
The solutions need to come from parents and teachers, she said.
“These are the people who are on the ground. These are the people who are showing us the way,” she said. “In the past, South Carolina has always taken a top-down approach to education. What I’m trying to do is create a bottom-up.”
Her comments followed a closed-door meeting with about 40 members of parent-teacher associations across the state. She said the group’s complaints included a lack of computers in some districts, as well as too much emphasis on grading schools and judging them through tests, rather than letting teachers do what they need to educate students.
“The surprise is how willing they are to tell us what’s needed and tell us what’s not working,” she said.
The meeting continued a dialogue on educating funding that the Republican governor requested in her State of the State address in January. She will next meet with the state Chamber of Commerce’s Excellence in Education Council. Haley hopes to reveal a plan by the end of the year.
She said her most productive meeting was last week with 40 teachers representing urban and rural districts, various teaching fields and grades. The teachers were recommended by legislative leaders of both parties and chambers.
Haley said she appreciated their candor. She said she will continue to meet with them as she turns concepts into details and ask them whether her ideas are practical.
“They’ll be the group we go to to say, ‘Are we doing this right?’” she said.
Legislators have been talking about overhauling education funding formulas for decades without success. Some of the piecemeal changes have exacerbated problems.