Sound Off

Superintendent Race Needs More Substance

Plus: So-called Town Hall Meeting Wasn’t Open to Public

By Free Times Readers
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A number of forums are being held around our state for the candidates vying to become state superintendent of education. Unfortunately, these events often become platforms for candidates to make broad emotional and philosophical statements without much substance.

I would suggest that forums for state superintendent candidates ask participants to respond to the following specific questions:

• Since the overwhelming majority of K-12 students in South Carolina attend public schools, what actual experience do you have working in public schools?

• The South Carolina Department of Education includes about 400 employees and oversees over $4 billion in state, federal and other funds. What is your specific experience in leading a large organization and overseeing a large budget?

• What is your position on the Common Core and curriculum standards in general?

• What is your position on high stakes testing?

• How should teachers and administrators be evaluated?  Should test scores be used in evaluating teachers and administrators?  If so, to what degree?

• What is your position on vouchers/tax credits and other strategies to support private schools with public funds? What should be the level of transparency and accountability required of private schools benefitting from public money?

• How should public education be funded?  What do you see as the weaknesses of the current method of funding public education in South Carolina?  How should these weaknesses be addressed? 

Qualifications and specific positions do matter. 

Dr. Frank E. Morgan

So-called Town Hall Meeting Wasn’t Open to Public

Last week, a local TV station reported on its morning broadcast that there would be a town hall meeting with South Carolina’s congressional delegation at the downtown Marriott in Columbia. The April 16 meeting was to be part of the programming at a South Carolina Chamber of Commerce event. I phoned the Marriott, which confirmed that the event was taking place and read me a schedule of the day’s activities.

Having experienced some South Carolina politicians’ past town hall meetings, it seemed beyond belief that the entire delegation would ever expose itself to the public at one particular time and place.

As it turned out, the “town hall meeting” was not open to the public. When I arrived with a friend just before 4 p.m., we walked down the corridor to where the business, corporate and lobbyist attendees were mingling with members of the delegation. We were then stopped at an entrance table and were directed to another table to register for the town hall meeting.  There, we were asked if we were members of the chamber. I said, no, we were there for the town hall meeting.

To join the political elitists, we learned, we would each have to pay $125 to attend.

I reminded the staff person that the event had been promoted as a “town hall meeting” that was open to the public, told her that we were South Carolina constituents and veterans, and reiterated that we should be allowed to attend. The staff member then quietly talked with another member of the staff, after which we were told, again, we each would have to pay $125 to attend.

I then asked for the name of the chamber’s president, so that I could mention him in my report to the media about their “open to the public” meeting that was not open to the public. She hesitated. I waited. She then gave me the name of the chamber’s president and CEO, Otis Rawl.

It was later reported that three delegation members — GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy, Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn and GOP U.S. Sen. Tim Scott — did not attend.

The town hall meeting was a sham — a PR stunt that excluded the public. This sham seems to be just another example of plutocracy, corporate and elitist hypocrisy, as the delegation works for special interests in lieu of representing the people.

We the people must not and shall not be silent. Money in politics must no longer be tolerated. Profiteering elitist moneychangers shall be held accountable in 2014.

Wade Fulmer

Be Kind, Adopt a Pet

My wife has accused me of liking animals more so than people. If this is true, the reason is that I see the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals commercials and we have gotten two cats from the SPCA shelter in Aiken, S.C., which has many pets for adoption. I see these animals and it makes me very sad to think no one wants these lovable pets. If I could, I would take all of them.

I guess the reason for this short letter is to ask you to please consider taking one of these lovable pets home with you. You will feel very good about yourself for adopting a pet that is in great need of a home.

Thank you in advance for your kindness if you do adopt.

Timothy Tim Monroe Bledsoe
North Augusta, S.C.

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