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Perpetuating More of the Same

The "Put Parents in Charge Act" is ...

Perpetuating More of the Same

Gary West

March 28, 2005

 

Live – from South Carolina!  It’s politics as unusual…

For the last month, South Carolina has been experiencing its own brand of March Madness – and it has nothing to do with basketball. 

 

The “Put Parents in Charge Act” seems to bring out the worst in some – while others work hard to keep the worst from happening to the state’s public school system.  There are four interesting stories from the month that point out again that the more things change, the more they stay the same in our state:

 

(1) The Governor’s trip to Allendale County – in lieu of an actual apology for bad-mouthing them during his state-of-the-state address;

 

(2) A visit to the Capital City Club to talk with African-American clergy about the benefits of paying for wealthy children to go to private schools so black churches can start their own after-school programs;

 

(3) Some fake letters – from our Northern friends – to state newspapers, supporting the Governor’s education plan; and

 

(4) The semantics of politics – what’s being said and what it really doesn’t mean.

 

Allendale As a Good Example

Two months after he cited them1 for being bad, Governor Mark Sanford visited Allendale County Schools.  At least one version of the Governor’s “Put Parents in Charge Act”2 would permit students in those schools to attend the private school of their choice, using tax credits to their parents to pay for the private school tuition.

 

Within 60 miles of the center of the town of Allendale, there are nine private schools.3  The closest is Patrick Henry Academy in Estill – about 20 miles from Allendale.4  Andrew Jackson Academy is about 26 miles away in Bamberg.  Jefferson Davis Academy is about 27 miles away in Blackville.  There are others in Orangeburg (45 miles), Ridgeland (46 miles), Walterboro (52 miles), and Aiken (54 miles).

 

Allendale County has a median household income of $20,898, which is the lowest of the state’s 46 counties.5  The average Allendale County taxpayer’s family with two school-aged children pays no state income tax – with or without a tuition tax credit under the “Put Parents in Charge Act.”6  The state tax codes indicate the average Allendale County family does not make enough money to survive and pay taxes.7 

 

Yet, the “Put Parents in Charge Act” assumes that these families would be able to pay for tuition and travel to one of the “nearby” private schools using a tuition tax credit that will not cover the entire cost of private school attendance.

 

And, even if the money thing could be worked out, the nine private schools within 60 miles of Allendale have admission requirements that would exclude virtually all of the Allendale students.  And most of the nine academies within 60 miles of Allendale have limited space for additional students – even if tuition, travel, and admission standards could be worked out.

 

The fact remains that private school opportunities are extremely limited for students in Allendale County.  

 

The same is true in every other area of the state where the Governor and his political action group (South Carolinians for Responsible Government) contend that poor students can benefit from the “Put Parents in Charge Act.”  Like the name of the Act itself, the idea sounds good.  In reality, those opportunities simply will not exist.

 

Current private school students will be the only students from Allendale County – or anywhere else in the state – who will benefit from the tuition tax credits generated by the “Put Parents in Charge Act.”  Those are the students whose families can already meet the admission requirements and who can afford to pay the tuition, the travel, and the additional costs of participating in private school activities.

 

Allendale County is a prime example why the “Put Parents in Charge Act” will not do what the Governor says it will do.  In fact, Allendale County was an example of what the “Put Parents in Charge Act” will perpetuate – long before the Governor thought about it.  Allendale County is an excellent example of what white private schools will do to a community – and what those schools have been doing for more than 30 years.

 

Vouching for the Clergy

In mid-March, a group called Clergy for Educational Options8 invited selected African-American clergy to Columbia to discuss improvement for the state’s schools.  A brochure published by Clergy for Educational Options states that the group “operates under the auspices of the South Carolina Center for Grass Roots (sic) and Community Alternatives.”9 

 

The brochure for Clergy for Educational Options contains a highlighted box with five questions for African-American pastors – one of which is “Do you wish to start your own academy?

 

The leadership of Clergy for Educational Options10 stated, in its emailed invitation to African-American ministers, that it had taken “a group of Pastors recently to sit down with the Governor” to talk about education.  The invitation also stated that the group’s leaders wanted to “extend that opportunity to as many Black Pastors as possible who would like to sit down with the Legislative Leadership” to discuss education and other topics relating to African-American issues.

 

In a response to the invitation, Reverend Joseph Darby of Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston replied, “…the present ‘legislative leadership’ … has a poor track record of outreach to or respect for the African-American community…It leaves me with the impression that your organization may be designed to solicit African-American clergy support for the ‘Put Parents in Charge’ legislation…I regard efforts to provide tuition tax credits…to be the worst idea to come along in South Carolina for a very long time…I still believe that the primary benefactors of ‘Put Parents in Charge’ will be affluent parents and schools that were established to maintain segregation.”11

 

The “Put Parents in Charge Act” will perpetuate segregated schools all over South Carolina.  The idea of soliciting support for the Act within the African-American community through promotion of tuition tax credits to African-American churches seems ludicrous, at best.  At its worst, it’s an effort to put “the church and its clergy [up]…for sale to the highest bidder.”12

 

We’ve seen the effects of social and economic segregation in this country.  Most white folks in The South will jokingly refer to The Civil War as the Battle of Northern Aggression and there is continued good-natured ribbing about the differences between The North and The South.13  There are also some white folks who still wear the “Forget?  Hell No!” tags on the front of their trucks – and they mean it. 

 

And, for many African-Americans in our state, the battles go on – for social justice and economic opportunity.

 

Those battles are still being fought because of ideas and practices like the “Put Parents in Charge Act” – ideas and practices that perpetuate the “plantation mentality” that prevents real social, economic, and educational reform in South Carolina.

 

The past will always be with us.  It’s our heritage.  It’s our roots.  It’s our beliefs.  It’s the way we are.  It affects the way we can be.

 

But the options being offered for education by the “Put Parents in Charge Act” can have much greater – and a much more negative – impact on our society and our democracy, as a whole.

 

While the past has lessons that must be re-learned with each generation, the present has lessons that predict our future, now.

 

Consider Northern Ireland, where social conflict is faith-based, with the Catholics and the Protestants unable to come to social terms with each other.  Consider Israel, where political conflict is faith-based, with Israelis and Palestinians unable to come to political terms with each other.  Consider Iraq, where regional conflict is faith-based, with Sunnis and Shiites unable or unwilling to trust each other in the democratic process.  And the list goes on in today’s world.

 

The promotion of segregated faith-based “public” education, through Clergy for Educational Options and the “Put Parents in Charge Act,” offers the same potential for segregating us further – not just on our race or ethnicity or cultures, but as a function of our faith, as well.  The result will be similar to Northern Ireland, Israel, Iraq, and so many other places where learners do not develop an understanding of or a respect for the other belief systems that exist in the world. 

 

The result will be pockets of believers in “The Truth” – pockets of people who have no opportunity to develop respect and understanding for others who may believe in different Truths.  As we can see in such pockets around the world, democracy does not thrive – in fact, democracy does not survive.

 

And, remember:  Democracy is a form of government designed to let everyone believe as he or she chooses.  Democracy must be aggressive in doing so; otherwise, the democracy will not survive and, as a result, the beliefs of many will not survive. 

 

Our democracy is not designed to protect one person’s beliefs – it is designed to protect all persons’ beliefs. 

 

And that is a very complex thing to do – because it requires that each of us respect and understand the democracy and the value of others’ beliefs.

 

The creation of little enclaves of “them” and “us” through the creation of separate-and-unequal educational systems does nothing for the progression of democracy – regardless of who “them” is or who “us” is.

 

Carpetbaggers and Turnip Trucks

You know, I didn’t just get off a turnip truck yesterday.  I don’t have any pick’em ups on blocks in my front yard (and haven’t, for months).  And I haven’t dated anyone closer than a first cousin in years.  

 

But there are these folks from “up north” who must think I did, do, or have recently done all those things. 

 

Let me give you an example.

 

Todd McCauley has worked in “several high-profile education and term-limit campaigns in Ohio and California.”14   

 

In his capacity as executive director of South Carolinians for Responsible Government,15 Mr. McCauley initiated a letter writing campaign to newspapers across South Carolina in support of the “Put Parents in Charge Act.”  Inexplicably, Mr. McCauley decided to write all the letters himself instead of finding people who actually supported the Act.

 

Three of his fake letters were sent to The State under the pseudonym “Dennis Sinned.”  The State became suspicious of the letters’ origins when it realized (1) that the last name was the same as the first name spelled backward and (2) that it was Mr. McCauley who had actually sinned.

 

Brad Warthen of The State stated, “This is an attempt to defraud this newspaper and – more importantly – its readers.”16

 

Tom Swatzel, president of South Carolinians for Responsible Government, was quoted, “Todd simply got caught up in the moment and in his zeal for school choice.  He made a rash decision.”17

 

Now, let’s look at this for a moment – you know, like the one Mr. McCauley got caught up in.  Three letters – not one letter, hastily written and sent off without a second thought.  Three letters – each taking more than a caught-up-moment to write, sign, find a stamp, and put in the out-basket.  And, what about the time it took him to come up with the clever name?  Rash, indeed.

 

Instead of getting caught up in the moment, I just think Mr. McCauley believes that that turnip truck drives around the state all day long, dropping off people like me and the editors at The State.  And he probably thinks we get off that turnip truck everyday because we’re absolutely sure that the pick’em up on blocks in front of the trailer will actually raise our property values – so we take the turnip truck instead of driving our own truck.

 

And I’m absolutely sure Mr. McCauley thinks he knows what’s best for us-all and he was just trying to help us-all out because he knew how to write three letters.  It’s a good thing some of us down here actually know how to read.

 

It sure seems to me that Mr. McCauley’s done got some of that “plantation mentality” in him – even if he is from “up north.”

 

Carpetbaggers are carpetbaggers – whether they’re from Michigan, Ohio, California – or the Carolina coast.

 

What’s All That Mean?

Tom Swatzel of Murrells Inlet is the president of South Carolinians for Responsible Government.  I don’t know Mr. Swatzel and, to my knowledge, Mr. Swatzel doesn’t know me.  I have read some of Mr. Swatzel’s writings18 about the “Put Parents in Charge Act” and I assume he has read mine.19  We’re about as far away from each other’s position as possible – and that may be an understatement.

 

In early March, Mr. Swatzel authored an op-ed piece20 in The State.  I’d like to take a few rash moments to address the central idea of each of the ten paragraphs in Mr. Swatzel’s essay.

 

The following paragraphs start with a quote21 from Mr. Swatzel’s essay.  Each quote is followed by a brief rebuttal of the essential elements of that quote.

 

“…the school choice tax credit proposal, Put Parents in Charge…” 

Let’s face it folks.  The “Put Parents in Charge Act” is not about school choice.  It’s about money.  It’s a tax bill.  It’s about letting some folks get away without paying taxes.  That’s all it is.  That’s all it will ever be.  When you hear somebody talk about “school choice” and “Put Parents in Charge,” just say, “Ahem.  Those two things are not the same things.  Please don’t underestimate my intelligence.  And if you can’t discuss it intelligently, let’s go on to something else – like, ‘…been cold enough for you?’”

 

“…stop the foaming-at-the-mouth rhetoric…”

It’s great to read a writer who doesn’t take himself too seriously and who seems to have a sense of irony.  And the humor of it all – coming from the folks who invented both the foaming-at-the-mouth and the rhetoric in the discussion about the “Put Parents in Charge Act.”  It’s even funnier when juxtaposed with “Let’s look at the facts…” – in the same sentence, no less.  And, to think, I started reading this, thinking it would be high drama…

 

The balance of that $5,000 [not given to a private school student] is still in the state coffers, available to be used, however the General Assembly sees fit — presumably it would go toward public education, since that’s where it would have gone had the student stayed in the public school system.”

The “Put Parents in Charge Act” will provide, based on Mr. Swatzel’s calculations, anywhere between $2600 and $3200 per student who wants to attend private schools.  He contends that $1800 to $2400 would remain in the public schools for each student who leaves the public schools to go to private school.  He understands the arithmetic but does not understand the mathematics of education funding – BUT, that’s not the problem with his calculations.  And he knows it.  The work he doesn’t show involves the 54,000 students22 already in private schools who will get state money and who will not be leaving the public schools – because they don’t attend the public schools.  Taking Mr. Swatzel’s lowest estimate of $2600 – multiply that by 54,000 existing private school students (children of parents who can already afford private school) – and you will see that the immediate loss of state revenues is $140,400,000.  Add to that about 9,000 home-schooled students23 (another $23,400,000).  That’s a total of $163,800,000 – and no new students have yet gone to private schools – even if they can find one for which they can meet the admission requirements.  For these 63,000 students, state money leaves state budgets – and there is no balance left because there are no students leaving the public schools.  And that’s every year…

 

“School choice supporters believe that…more dollars will be available to educate fewer children…”

I don’t mean to be disrespectful of others’ beliefs, but sometimes things are just myths – with no basis in reality.  Let’s look at the only way more dollars would be available for fewer children – IF you did believe in the Swatzel balances (and I don’t).  Using Mr. Swatzel’s arithmetic, each student leaving public school would take $2600 (the least amount) and would leave $2400 behind (at the most).  Because the existing private school and home-schooled students will take $163.8 million without leaving anything behind, another 68,250 students would have to leave the public schools – each leaving behind $2400 – in order for the public schools to break even.  And that’s if you believe in the concept of “leaving behind.”  Supporters of the “Put Parents in Charge Act” (which has nothing to do with school choice, despite Mr. Swatzel’s continued use of the term) are mistaken in their logic and in their arithmetic – which makes it hard to put faith in what they say they believe.

 

“The education establishment…inexplicably argues they don’t save anything when a child leaves the public system.”

Inexplicably, you say.  To the contrary, the Miley report24 and the above calculations explicitly and explicably show the math.  The Lindsay report25 on which Mr. Swatzel bases his “savings” comments never acknowledges that there are already 63,000 private school and home-schooled students or that the “Put Parents in Charge Act” will give them $163.8 million before any new students think about going to private school.

 

“While Put Parents in Charge is a tax measure that affects the amount of general revenues brought into the state, it’s our contention that the General Assembly still will have more money available to allocate among fewer students.”

Now, let’s say this one more time.  There will be $163.8 million (minimum) taken straight off the top of state revenue – with no reduction in students.  Less money plus same students equals less money to allocate among those same students.  Period.  (That’s four straight paragraphs getting the wrong answer to the same problem.)

 

“…the same amount of money will be available for other state services.”

Using Mr. Swatzel’s logic, the “Put Parents in Charge Act” can give $163.8 million to existing private school students – without taking any additional students from the public schools – and the public schools will have more money for those remaining students and all other state agencies will have the same amounts they have had in previous years.  (Make that five straight – and he even used the words “with the savings generated through this program,” referring to the “Put Parents in Charge Act.”  I must have missed his footnote with those calculations.) 

 

“Now, if The State editorial board is concerned that education is taking money away from police protection, parks, and other services…”

Neither the editorial board of The State nor anyone else is worried about education taking money away from anything else.  The trouble is that the “Put Parents in Charge Act” will take the money away from public education and other services – all so that parents who already send their children to private school can get out of paying their taxes.

 

“The simple truth is that the fight over school choice and Put Parents in Charge is about power.”

One more time:  There is no fight over school choice.  There are abundant choices for parents with regard to the education of their children.  The parents of 63,000 children have already chosen private schools or home schooling instead of the public schools.  (By the way, has it been cold enough for you?)  The issue is and continues to be the use of public money for private school tuition – without accountability for that money or for the educational results from the use of that money.  I’ve no idea where this “power” thing came from – the “simple” truth is that this fight is about money – for people who have already made their choices.

 

“…real reform is needed.”

This phrase comes from the ninth paragraph, also, but it deserves as much or more attention as does the “power” sentence.  Mr. Swatzel and I agree – real reform is needed.  We differ in our visions of what exists now that is in need of reform.  Mr. Swatzel sees private schools as the answer.  For more than 30 years in South Carolina, I’ve seen private schools as the problem.  In communities like Allendale, Ridgeland, Estill, Marion, Andrews, Manning, and many others, the private schools are the social, economic, and educational problem.  They have been for decades.  Real reform is needed – and that reform involves promoting the public schools instead of denigrating them.  That reform requires Mr. Swatzel’s support of the public schools – through his involvement, his attitudes, his comments, his actions.  The needed reform is in whole community involvement in the public schools – and not just the involvement of the community immediately around a school but the whole community served by that school – its white community, its African-American community, its Hispanic community, its Asian community, its affluent community, its disadvantaged community, its political community, its service community, its business community.  All of us must remember that our schools serve our children – but, just as importantly, our schools serve our democracy.  And without that democracy, our children will not have all the opportunities we have had – opportunities like publicly debating the merits of the “Put Parents in Charge Act.”  The problem is not our public schools; the problem is the segregation created by our private schools.  The status quo is segregation; reform is the opposite of the “Put Parents in Charge Act.”  Real reform is needed now.

 

The children and families have to be the priority, not a system that has consistently failed to meet the needs of generations of South Carolinians.”

As stated above, the system that has consistently failed to meet the needs of generations of South Carolinians is the segregation created by our private schools.  And before the private schools, it was the separate-but-unequal school systems.  It is worth repeating:  The needed reform is in whole community involvement in the public schools – not the perpetuation (and even legitimization) of segregation that is promised by the “Put Parents in Charge Act.”

 

It’s simply a difference of belief.  What’s right for me may not be right for Mr. Swatzel – and vice versa.  And our democracy lets us be just as different as we want to be.  But the discussion of the “Put Parents in Charge Act” is not about what’s right for me or for Mr. Swatzel.  The discussion is about what’s best for the democracy in which he and I can differ.  In that democracy, segregation is the perpetual problem – not the answer.

 

Changing the Perpetual

South Carolina needs change – and it needs change now.  Those who support the “Put Parents in Charge Act” contend that it is the agent of the change that is needed.  They are wrong.  It perpetuates a system that has existed for decades.

 

Before the mandates that ended segregation, South Carolina operated two public school systems.  Since the formation of the South Carolina Independent School Association in 1965 preceding integration, South Carolina has continued to have two school systems – one private and one public. 

 

At no time in South Carolina’s history has there been one school system.  At one time, the segregation was based on race alone; since the late 1960’s, segregation has been based on economics more than race – but in South Carolina, “poor” is very closely related to “race” in the lowered-voice conversations of those who support the state’s private school systems.

 

The “Put Parents in Charge Act” not only perpetuates segregated schools – it legitimizes that segregation by state sanction and state funding.

 

The needed change in education involves just one thing:  Legislative support and funding for public education that is so strongly connected to principles of public education that the citizens of the state understand that the success of this state lies in its public schools – and in its service to the children who will become our future leaders, locally and globally.  Public education makes our democracy strong.

 

The change we need is not toward further splitting of local communities.  Real change in South Carolina’s educational process will come when we get together – not while we continue to keep apart.

 

 

Endnotes

1      The State of the State Address, January 26, 2005 (http://www.gwd50.k12.sc.us/State-of-the-State-050126.htm).

 

2      There were two versions of the “Put Parents in Charge Act” filed prior to the start of the current legislative session.  A third version has reduced the amounts of money to be allowed for tax credits (in an effort to win over some of those who oppose the concept) and has eliminated all references to private school and home school accountability (in an effort to win over some of those who don’t want the state evaluating their instructional programs).  As committee discussions begin this week (March 30, 2005), there is more discussion of newer versions.  It might be wise to do a complete business case – for a change.

 

3      According to the website for the South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA; http://www.scisa.org/member.asp). 

 

4      Distances were calculated from the center of Allendale to the center of each town with a private school, using Mapquest (http://www.mapquest.com/directions/main.adp).  Actual distances may vary.

 

5      Rankings of the Counties and School Districts of South Carolina 2000-2001 (2002 Edition); Table 19A (http://www.myscschools.com/offices/research//06Econom1.xls).

 

6      Taxes calculated with TurboTax Deluxe 2004 with South Carolina state tax module for a family income of $20,898, two dependent children, and standard deductions.

 

7      Rankings of the Counties and School Districts of South Carolina 2000-2001 (2002 Edition); Table 55 (http://www.myscschools.com/offices/research//08Pupil1.xls) latest data available for school enrollment in South Carolina.  Fall enrollment was 1960 students, 1732 of whom qualified for free or reduced-price lunches.

 

8      A similar group called Clergy for Educational Options was also prominent in the school voucher movement in Milwaukee (see http://archive.wispolitics.com/freeser/pr/pr0204/apr18/pr02041803.html).

 

9      South Carolina Center for Grassroots and Community Alternatives (homepage at http://www.sccgca.com/) states that one of its goals it to “collect and disseminate research based data that will put parents in charge of their children’s educational attainment” (http://www.sccgca.com/mission.html).  [Emphasis is mine.]  Another page on the Center’s website states that the Center will “provide a reliable forum for parents, extended families, faith and community based organizations regarding the intricacies of the Put Parents in Charge Act” (http://www.sccgca.com/education.html).  The State newspaper indicates that the South Carolina Center for Grassroots and Community Alternatives is affiliated with South Carolinians for Responsible Government (http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/11156020.htm) although this writer was unable to find any direct reference to South Carolinians for Responsible Government on the Center’s website.

 

10   The contact information on the brochure for Clergy for Educational Options lists Pastor Richard L. Davis, Executive Minister, 1620 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC 29204.

 

11   See Reverend Darby’s complete response at http://home.earthlink.net/~garywwest2/id23.html.

 

12   As Reverend Darby points out in his response to Clergy for Educational Options (http://home.earthlink.net/~garywwest2/id23.html).

 

13   My wife (whom I met in Allendale County) is from a Northern state and we have several running jokes about the way Yankees do things compared to the way the rest of us do things.

 

14   The State (Columbia, SC); “Tax credit group to reorganize staff”; March 5, 2005; http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/11057438.htm.

 

15   South Carolinians for Responsible Government; http://www.scrgov.org.  (Don’t forget to click Newsroom, Inside Scoop, and the 2/3/2005 edition of Inside Scoop – which may also be a product of Mr. McCauley’s imagination.)

 

16   The State (Columbia, SC); “Tax credit group to reorganize staff”; March 5, 2005; http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/11057438.htm.

 

17   The State (Columbia, SC); “Tax credit group to reorganize staff”; March 5, 2005; http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/11057438.htm.

 

18   The State (Columbia, SC); “On school choice, the sky is not falling; March 4, 2005; http://www.thestate.com/mld/state/11047328.htm; The Berkeley Herald (Berkeley County, SC); “Miley study is narrow, outdated, and illogical”; February 25, 2005 (not available online).

 

19   The website of South Carolinians for Responsible Government (http://www.scrgov.org) has a brief biography entitled “Who Is Gary West?”  That bio was posted on their website after I posted an article entitled “Does South Carolina Need Two Public School Systems – Again?” on my website (http://www.thestate.com/mld/state/11047328.htm).  You can read the “Who Is Gary West?” bio by going to http://www.scrgov.gov, choosing Newsroom from the top-line menu, click Inside Scoop, and opening the Inside Scoop dated 2/3/2005.  And note:  They didn’t even give a link to my article so you could put the bio into context…it’s hard being a prophet in your own time…(heh, heh).  Because Mr. Swatzel is president and CEO of South Carolinians for Responsible Government, I assume he authorized the biographical material about me after reading my article – but, I will admit that Mr. McCauley may also have created the bio without Mr. Swatzel’s knowledge, just as he did the three fake letters to The State.

 

20   The State (Columbia, SC); “On school choice, the sky is not falling; March 4, 2005; http://www.thestate.com/mld/state/11047328.htm.

 

21   Each quote is, of course, taken out of context; however, we’re not dealing with rocket science here.  We’ll try to deal directly with the content, instead of the context – but, if you want context, you can find Mr. Swatzel’s complete essay at http://www.thestate.com/mld/state/11047328.htm.  (See – I’m giving a link to his stuff – because I think it does, indeed, speak for itself – and for him.)

 

22   South Carolina Department of Education estimates of children in private schools in 2004-2005.

 

23   South Carolina Department of Education estimates of children being home-schooled in 2004-2005.

 

24   The Miley Report was commissioned by the South Carolina School Boards Association and the South Carolina Association of School Administrators.  The complete report can be found (in PDF format) at http://www.scsba.org/acrobat/050207_mileystudy/050207_mileystudy_complete.pdf.

 

25   The Lindsay Report was commissioned by the South Carolina Policy Council.  The complete report can be found (in PDF) format at http://www.scpolicycouncil.com/index.asp?content=marginalcoststudent.

 

 

Additional Readings

Several writers have given permission to post their works on my website (http://home.earthlink.net/~garywwest/).  I strongly recommend the following articles.  You can click (CTRL+click if you’re reading this in Word) the title of each article to go directly to it – or you can go to my website and find these under Other Articles.

 

Thank You -- But No Thank You

by Reverend Joseph Darby

The present legislative leadership has a poor track record of outreach to or respect for the African-American community.  Your invitation leaves me with the impression that your organization may be designed to solicit African-American clergy support for the "Put Parents in Charge" legislation. I regard efforts to provide tuition tax credits to be the worst idea to come along in South Carolina for a very long time.  [March 15, 2005]

 

Betraying the Progress SC Schools Have Made

by Katherine E. O'Quinn

Diverting public money to private venues, without accountability on academic or financial operations, is a slap in the face to the notable progress that continues in South Carolina. Public education is and should continue to be South Carolina’s No. 1 priority.  All state leaders need to be reminded that they have a moral and ethical responsibility to strengthen our public schools, not to abandon them.    [March 16, 2005]

 

See also:  An ongoing series about the “Put Parents in Charge Act” and public schools at The State: (http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/10946841.htm).

 

 

About the Author

Gary West has lived in South Carolina for more than 30 years.  He believes citizenship is the role we assume as we acknowledge our responsibility to our society.  He believes that citizenship is learned, as much by example as by direct instruction.  He believes that our children learn even when we are not teaching. 

 

You can reach Mr. West at garywwest@earthlink.net.  

 

This article and others can be found online at http://home.earthlink.net/~garywwest/.  Permission is granted to share this article in electronic or printed format as long as you don’t change it or charge for it.  Read responsibly.

 

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