Oct. 26—Ellen Weaver talked about what she thought the future of education should look like in South Carolina during her speech to the Rotary Club of Aiken on Monday at Newberry Hall.
The founding president and CEO of the Palmetto Promise Institute, which is based in Columbia, reported that while the Palmetto State's expenditure per pupil is "near the top of the tier" in the South, the performance of its students "is lagging" by comparison in the region.
To improve results, Weaver believes South Carolina needs to streamline its funding system for education and reduce bureaucracy.
Currently, "money is not necessarily able to make it down into the classroom where it actually needs to be to impact student outcomes," Weaver said.
She also recommended increasing the options for students so that they can learn wherever they learn best.
Weaver described herself as a "big fan" of school choice and said that South Carolina is among the states that "have active legislation that would expand" that approach to education.
In addition, she suggested that an effort be made to reduce red tape.
There are many "different programs and a multiplicity of rules and regulations ... that I think oftentimes distract teachers from their core function, which is to teach students and not fill out paperwork," Weaver said.
Her other recommendations included an increase in high quality professional development, more pay flexibility to better reward professional excellence and expanded pathways to certification and recertification for teachers.
As far as school administration is concerned, "we need to be doing everything we can to train and empower high quality principals," Weaver said.
According to palmettopromise.com, the Palmetto Promise Institute is "an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) educational organization" that conducts public policy research."