Fort Mill Times

Letter: Educational Jobs Fund can help our students

Fund helps students

As our college students head home for summer vacation, they face an overwhelming burden of debt due to Nikki Haley’s budget cuts. Her budget cuts have forced South Carolina’s colleges to have the highest tuition in the Southeast. Haley talks about building our economy but refuses to allow money in the budget to build a foundation for an affordable higher education system.

Haley has vetoed $110 million worth of public education programs and services since 2011. That accounts for more than a quarter of the $419 million in budget cuts she has vetoed thus far.

South Carolina was the only state that did not apply for money from the Educational Jobs Fund. The fund was created in an effort to save teachers jobs in jeopardy due to state budget cuts. The federal program offered $144 million to South Carolina to pay salaries and benefits, retain or rehire teachers who were laid off, or hire new teachers for the 2010-2011 school year. With funds from that program, college graduates who wanted to enter a teaching profession would have have a job right here in South Carolina.

Instead, South Carolina’s funds were dispersed to the other 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The state’s federal tax money will have to be used to pay it back. Haley’s administration chose to make a political statement at taxpayer’s expense.

Primary and secondary students during fiscal year 2014 are being educated with $500 less per student than before the recession.

Statewide, approximately 300 educators have been laid off and more than 1,200 positions have not been filled.

Haley’s long record of slashing public education has hurt students, teachers and our economy for years. And now, due to a tough election campaign, she finally comes up with a proposal on education. My concern is that she will say anything to get elected to another term and not follow through once the election is over.

The Haley administration has not shown enough care for the well-being of our students or teachers with regard to funding or with the handling of the tuberculosis outbreak. In the small town of Ninety Six, dozens of children that attend Ninety Six Primary School were exposed to tuberculosis for two months before parents were informed. A caring, responsible governor would never put our children and families health at risk.

We can’t afford to allow Haley and her administration to govern for another four years. We need new leadership.

Vincent Sheheen is an excellent choice for governor. He has made South Carolina’s Public Schools a cornerstone of his legislative efforts and he will work collaboratively with legislators to improve the quality of education in South Carolina. His record in the state senate proves that for the past several years he has fought for better funding of public schools.

Sheheen has published a book, “The Right Way, Getting The Palmetto State Back On Track.” In this publication, he has outlined plans for improving education in chapters 2, 4 and 6. You can download the book or read it online at

Vincent Sheheen’s plan would:

•  Change the current system for funding public schools. Shift the responsibility to the state by moving some of the local taxes to the state and setting priorities that focus on the needs of the children.

•  Make technical college education available to every hardworking and dedicated student willing to earn a two year degree or technical certificate. This is critical for economic development.

•  Have 4-year old kindergarten available to all children in all districts.

•  Increase the salaries of South Carolina public schools teachers to match the national average.

Sheheen’s philosophy of government is simple: “ Let’s find out what works and fix it! Regardless of party, ideology or prejudice, let’s find solutions and not be afraid to try new things.”

Sheila Bickford

Indian Land