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Letter: Funderburk responds to education questions

Posted: October 1, 2018 3:51 p.m.
Updated: October 2, 2018 1:00 a.m.

I am pleased to respond to the questions that Dr. Frank Morgan presented in a letter published in the Chronicle-Independent on August 10, 2018. I appreciate Dr. Morgan’s desire that education be in the forefront of the issues that voters consider during this election. The quality of our schools and the education that our children receive is vitally important to the individual success of our students and the future of our county and state.

1. Although educators fully support accountability, our state’s emphasis on standardized testing has significantly increased and now drives much of what occurs in South Carolina classrooms. Do you support re-evaluation of the role and amount of standardized testing in our schools?

As a parent of two children in Kershaw County schools, I absolutely believe that SC students are tested too much. Over the past six years, I have supported legislation that became law to eliminate the exit exam and replace it with a college readiness assessment (which is voluntary) and a career readiness assessment, which is useful when applying for a job.

In addition, in grades 3-8, the General Assembly reduced testing by requiring SC PASS to alternate each year between science and social studies instead of testing both subjects every year. Senator Sheheen has a bill to reduce testing even further called the “Standardized Testing Overburdens Pupils (STOP) Act,” and I support it.

2. What specific legislation would you propose or support to resolve the serious and worsening teacher shortage in our state?

Teachers ought to be treated like the professionals they are and respected for the critical job they perform: educating the future leaders, workforce, and citizens of South Carolina. We are among the lowest in the nation in teacher pay. S.C. should pay its teachers salaries that reflect the value we say we place on education.

I support and will continue to support increases in teacher pay. In an effort to elevate the teaching profession, I will propose legislation that provides more opportunities to grow and be recognized in the profession.

Teachers want to teach, so I will support legislation that will reduce distractions such as unnecessary paperwork and testing. Teachers also want to teach in a healthy learning environment and be supported in their work and actions to bring discipline to the classroom. Good behavior cannot be legislated, but I will do my part to support teachers and school leaders in their efforts to create a safe and healthy school environment where everyone can focus on learning.

3. Do you support tax credits for private school tuition if the private schools benefitting are not subject to the same rigorous and transparent accountability requirements as regular public schools?

No. All schools should meet the same accountability requirements.

4. The state currently funds Base Student Cost at about $500 per student below what is required by state law. In Kershaw County, this amounts to about $6 million per year that is not going to Kershaw County classrooms. Would you vote to approve future state budgets that do not fund Base Student Cost at the required legal level?

I support fully funding education, and I vote to do so. It is indeed a failure that the budget has not fully funded the base student cost under the statutory formula since the 2008 recession, when deep cuts were made in all areas of the budget. The base student cost is one part of the education budget, which is one part of the whole state budget. I weigh the entire budget on what is in the best overall interests of Kershaw County.

5. The Kershaw County school board is fiscally dependent, which means that Kershaw County Council controls local funding for education although Council has no constitutional responsibility for education. This situation could be changed by the local legislative delegation. Would you support change that would allow the School Board to have control of its own funding?

No. There should be a single taxing authority for accountability so citizens will know who raises their taxes.

Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts with your readers. Over the years, I have listened to the concerns of teachers and parents in the community and developed my ideas under their guidance. I look forward to continue working with parents, teachers, and the community to improve our children’s education.

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