That chill you feel on this wet morning is caused by hell freezing over beneath our feet. (OK, that’s all the cliches for now, I promise…)
You know, I had been thinking that Mark Sanford was utterly unaffected by events of the last few months — that he had learned nothing, least of all that he owed it to the state he nominally governs to act in its best interests, rather than in the hubristic service of his own idiosyncratic beliefs. And then this:
SC’s Sanford seeks stimulus funds for schools
The Associated Press
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Gov. Mark Sanford wants $300 million in federal stimulus money for South Carolina, less than a year after fighting against accepting more than $700 million.
The State newspaper reported that Sanford flew to Washington on Thursday to ask for South Carolina’s share of the $4 billion “Race to the Top” education money. Forty states already have applied for the money, which is awarded based on plans to improve education and for innovation.
Sanford lost a fight in the South Carolina Supreme Court last year in his bid to refuse to take stimulus funds for public schools, colleges and law enforcement.
Gubernatorial spokesman Ben Fox says Sanford has no interest in debating the issue again.
South Carolina U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn praised Sanford’s efforts on behalf of public schools.
Now mind you, part of the reason he was there was to promote a type of school “choice,” but I’m happy to report it was a good kind of school choice — charter schools. Beyond that, though, the governor was seeking funds for purposes he has until now shown little interest in promoting, such as:
- New dropout prevention programs
- Outfitting more Montessori classrooms
- Giving incentives to teachers who agree to teach in the state’s most challenged schools
- Building housing for teachers who agree to live and teach in rural areas where housing is hard to find
- Creating high-tech labs for students to learn about advanced manufacturing and green engineering
Yay, Gov. Sanford! This looks like an actual positive development, and I’m not going to damn it with faint, grudging, crotchety partisan praise the way Rep. Jim Clyburn did. (And I quote: “I am pleased to see that the governor is finally taking an interest in South Carolina’s public schools. After going to court last year to prevent stimulus funds from coming to South Carolina, his meeting with (Education) Secretary (Arne) Duncan appears to be the governor’s admission that the stimulus was not only necessary but effective. I hope this is an indication he is willing to move forward together.”)
But I can’t help noting this interesting sidelight… Under Joel Sawyer’s replacement Ben Fox, a pattern is emerging: The governor takes an apparently self-serving trip to Washington — to preen, to be seen, to hobnob or what have you — and that gets reported widely, then after the political damage is done, Mr. Fox gives a reason for the trip that at least seems consistent with the governor doing his job. Remember last month when we all reported that the governor had gone to Washington on the morning after the State of the State with no more relevant apparent motive than his desire to bask in the victorious glow of Scott Brown? And then Mr. Fox reported that he was really there on an ecodevo mission?
Well, in this case everyone had reported that the governor had taken the state plane to Washington with no purpose beyond attending the National Prayer Breakfast. Then, later in the day, Mr. Fox offers this explanation.
So I wonder which it is? Are they making up these righteous-sounding justifications after the governor gets egg on his face (which I sincerely doubt), or do they really still not get the fact that the governor’s doings are news, and if he’s doing something legitimate, you need to tell people before they report on the basis of insufficient information? In other words, are we being intentionally misled or is the governor’s staff incompetent? Or is he still not telling his staff where he’s going? Or is there a perfectly logical and laudatory explanation for all this that Ben Fox will tell us about later?