The U.S. Department of Education says $144 million of federal bailout money meant for South Carolina's public schools will be doled out to the other 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. State leaders replied the state doesn't need the money, which represents a federal intrusion into state education.
The federal agency sent a letter last week to Republican Gov. Nikki Haley and Superintendent Mick Zais, notifying them South Carolina's money will go elsewhere if the state doesn't apply for it by Monday. South Carolina is the only state not to receive its share of $10 billion passed by Congress last August specifically for teaching jobs in the last and current school year.
"These resources have assisted local schools and communities across the country in hiring and retaining vital teachers and educators in the classroom to support ongoing teaching and learning," agency director Ann Whalen wrote Zais in the letter dated Aug. 5. "We hope that teachers and students in South Carolina will be able to benefit from these funds, as well."
In response, Zais said state and federal officials have known since September that South Carolina did not qualify for the money because of state cuts to colleges. Even if it did, Zais said, he wouldn't seek the money, noting he opposed bailouts as a candidate last year and his position hasn't changed.
"I regret that your agency wasted taxpayers' resources to inform the state again about something it and USDE already knew," Zais wrote Whalen on Tuesday. "Instead, your letter appears as another attempt to inject Washington politics into South Carolina's affairs."