Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hicks: Citizens should be serious about preparing youth

If educators didn't know much about then-Rep. Nikki Haley in 2010, they know a lot more about her today. Jackie Hicks, president of The South Carolina Education Association, told the South Carolina Radio Network this week that Haley's vetoes of state education funds didn't "sit well with educators."

Of the $213 million dollars in spending that Governor Nikki Haley vetoed in the state budget proposal, $56 million of it was added for education at the end of the session by lawmakers using higher-than-expected revenue collected this year. Haley said the state had already increased education funding by more than $100 million dollars.

Haley’s veto does not sit well with educators, including South Carolina Education Association President Jackie Hicks. She says, even with the increase, spending levels are not what they should be.

The SCEA, the state's largest association of education professionals, has a political action committee that supports candidates who support public education. Under the administration of Governor Mark Sanford, the organization drafted a "definition of support for public education" to spell out what "supporting" public education means.

Consistently under-funding public schools was not part of the definition.

Hicks says if the state expects to grow its economy by attracting more corporations that offers high-paying, high-tech jobs, they must be willing to invest in a well-prepared workforce. She said that starts with investing in young people by putting more dollars into public education. Hicks says lawmakers have to understand that investing in the public schools is an investment toward growing the state’s economy.

Haley says educators must use existing dollars more efficiently, by using less dollars at the administrative level and putting more money in the classroom. School officials say they have already trimmed administrative budgets significantly and they need higher funding to avoid further cuts and teacher layoffs.

Hicks says it is important that citizens across the state get serious about preparing our greatest asset: youth; giving them the education they need and deserve in order to take their place as productive citizens in the challenging and competitive global economy.

The South Carolina Radio Network's webpage features audio of this week's interview with Hicks.

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