As the new school year is about to start in South Carolina, what happens in those schools in the future will be a big issue in the governor's race.
Democrat Vincent Sheheen has released a detailed plan to improve South Carolina schools, while Republican Nikki Haley is meeting with teachers, principals, and superintendents to get their input as she formulates her plan.
Sheheen calls his plan the "Back to School, Back to Basics" education initiative.
His plan would:
--Provide voluntary kindergarten for any four-year-old in the state
--Offer public school choice
--Raise teacher pay to the national average in five years
--Lower class sizes
--Give more state money to rural districts that don't have the tax base of larger districts
--Give more state money to colleges and universities so they can reduce tuition
The money would come from annual growth in the state economy. "Some of these things will take time," he says. "People shouldn't expect that it'll happen in a year or even two years. But if we don't begin to do it today, it'll never happen."
You can see his entire plan at: http://vincentsheheen.com/press-release/sheheen-launches-back-to-school-back-to-basics-education-initiative/
Meanwhile, Gov. Nikki Haley says she's focusing on making sure the education plan that she got passed this year goes into effect. That plan includes more emphasis on reading, with a reading coach in every elementary school and holding students back and giving them extra help if they're not reading at grade level at the end of third grade. It also includes more technology in classrooms and more help for rural districts.
"And now we'll move on to our next step in education," she says. "That was not a one-year fix. That was a continuation of what we're going to continue to do to improve education in South Carolina."
She has already met with teachers, principals, teachers' associations, and college education deans to get their input. She'll also be meeting with district superintendents.
Independent candidate Tom Ervin supports more school choice for kids in failing school districts. He also wants statewide four-year-old kindergarten, and to cap college tuition increase for four years.
Libertarian Steve French proposes changing how schools are paid for, with the amount of money the state provides for each student following the child instead of being sent to a particular school. That would provide more school choice. He would also opt out of all federal education money.