NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Southern States in Vanguard of Education Experiments

April 4, 2000

While a few states in other regions are experimenting with education reform, almost every Southern state is implementing policies to improve public schools. The plans range from throwing more money into the education pot to launching voucher programs and ending teacher tenure.

  • Georgia is focusing on eliminating job protection for teachers -- the first such initiative in the country -- but the program also includes smaller class sizes, bonuses for teachers in successful schools, and a new education bureaucracy to monitor annual testing.
  • South Carolina has been spending more than $70 million a year to raise teacher salaries above the regional average and provide scholarships for future teachers -- and it has established a new training institute for principals.
  • Texas is emphasizing testing -- with particular attention to the progress of low-income and minority students.
  • North Carolina is tightening licensing requirements for both new and experienced teachers -- while offering substantial bonuses for teachers in high-performing schools.

Florida recently suffered a setback in its efforts to provide private school vouchers to children in poorly performing public schools. A state judge ruled the program unconstitutional. But the state is appealing.

The South has long lagged the rest of the country in educational achievement. In fact, 40 percent of Americans without high school diplomas live in the South -- twice the percentage of any other region.

Source: David Firestone, "Lagging in Education, the South Experiments," New York Times, April 4, 2000.


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