Governor David Beasley on Education
South Carolina is on the verge of taking a giant leap forward, thanks to a renewed focus on educational policy during this leglislative session. History will show that 1996 was truly a banner year for South Carolina school children.
From the youngest learners to those seeking higher education, students at every level will soon experience the sweeping changes we're about to set into motion.
Based on funding alone, this FY 1996-97 budget offers the single largest boost of education dollars since the Education Improvement Act was passed in 1984.
We've taken a whole series of bold steps forward to change the face of education as we know it in South Carolina - from the creation of a college scholarship program to a new funding for school repairs, from kindergarten for our most disadvantaged five-year-olds to long-overdue accountability in our colleges and universities.
Topping the list is the states first-ever scholarship program, funded by the Children's Education Endowment that I proposed during my State of the State address.
Too many times, we've had to sit back and watch our brightest students carry their talents and ideas across state lines. But armed with valuable scholarship dollars, we'll have the tools to keep more of our college-bound students in South Carolina where we need them most.
For those students still studying within our public schools, we'll tap into that same pool of funds to provide them with safer and more stable places of learning.
One of the state's basic responsibilities is to hammer away at the critical renovation and construction needs of our schools. We cannot, in good conscience, ask children to learn and teachers to teach in schools that are falling apart, so we'll use the Children's Education Endowment Fund to meet those needs head-on.
strengthen the four walls of our school buildings, we'll also start plotting a course for the Information Superhighway through every South Carolina classroom.
The first phase of a ground-breaking new technology plan was approved, so we can begin to equip every school with computers and state-of-the-art interactive technology.
It won't be long before every South Carolina student will have access to the most innovative programs, the most exceptional teachers and the fiber optic and satellite technology.
Those doors won't be open to just the wealthiest school districts, but to all school children no matter where they live or what resources they've had in the past.
We're putting our school children on more equal footing for the future, so they all stand better prepared for 21st century challenges heading their way.
Some of our youngest students will get an even earlier crack at learning for the 21st century thanks to a compromise on full-day kindergarten. The General Assembly delivered a plan that I can stand behind, one pinpointed for disadvantaged children most in need of this extra helping hand.
We're also creating even greater avenues for students already at the head of the class by expanding both the Governor's School for Arts and the Governor's School for Science and Math.
In our colleges and universities, we're now going to base funding on how well students perform, not on how many seats are filled.
In the midst of all this monumental change, good teachers will continue to be the central link between policy and products. That's why we're raising teacher salaries to the Southeast average.
One fact of life and learning will always remain constant: A child's first and primary teacher is in the home.
The most important lessons are learned around family dinner tables, at a child's bedside, in the arms of a nurturing parent.
Family lays the groundwork for a life of value and meaning. Formal education simply serves as the mortar to build on that foundation.
And the incredible line-up of innovations delivered this year will give us the building blocks to grow higher and stronger than ever before.
Our future depends on giving children our best solutions, our most creative ideas, our most visionary plans so that we're getting the best out of South Carolina's children and our education dollars.
The progress of the 1996 legislative session, and it's vision for South Carolina's rising generation, show that we are well on our way to doing just that.
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