Declined federal education funds being given to other states

COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) -- The U.S. Department of Education says $143 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.

The agency sent a letter last week to 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 for teaching jobs.

Zais said Tuesday the notice was political. He says state and federal officials have known since September that South Carolina did not qualify for the money due to state cuts to colleges. He says the money should go back into the treasury. Zais has previously said he refused to seek federal money because it often comes with too many strings attached and state schools don't need more federal intrusion.

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Students and groups representing local schools across the state have requested Zais apply for the cash to help retain teacher jobs that would otherwise be lost because of budget cuts.

South Carolina narrowly missed winning money in two previous federal Race to the Top competitions.

Do you agree with Zais' decision or does South Carolina need the federal funding? Leave a comment below to weigh in with your thoughts.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)