This photo was taken during last week's snow ... a fine example of the beauty of God's creation.
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Sunday, February 21, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
What We Need To Do About Our Schools
By Junius Smith
Each time I go to a meeting on how to change education, I cringe when the speaker explains the problem as one that requires a new type of financing or that competition will fix the problem. School choice is just another method of financing. Vouchers taken by themselves are another form of financing, but vouchers plus a change in the process of education will work, and I have made it work before.
I'm going to lay out a plan for education in this brief document that will work, and will be strictly for the children’s improvement of performance and the teachers’ satisfaction in accomplishment.
Labor unions will object for their goal is jobs and benefits and has little to do with with the education of the children.
School boards will object because they will lose a certain amount of control.
The South Carolina General Assembly will object - they will lose most of the control they now have; as there will be no state mandated programs.
* The money collected for education; the sales tax money, the lottery income (which, if left to me, would be done away with), and Federal government subsidies would be optional to those schools that wanted to be controlled by the Feds.
Some home schoolers would initially object because they don’t want any governmental interference. Although, with my plan, there would be no interference until pre-graduation exams. The exams would be prepared by the teachers that taught the concepts (including home schoolers), and a review book written by those same teachers. If warranted, intermittent exams could be used at other points for the sake of determining the teacher’s, team’s, and student’s progress.
The design of the process is as follows:
• Immediate emphasis would be placed on elementary education with class sizes cut to no more than 10;
- Extra teachers would come from the 9th grades & up (explanation later);
• Grade levels would be abandoned / Concept completion takes its place;
- Concept completion would be certified by the teachers;
- Teacher evaluation would be based on the success of students in the next core of concepts;
- Concept completion would be based on scores of 90-100
- Social promotion would end.
Under this concept, probably by what we now call the 4th grade - class size should expand to 15-20 depending on what the team leader feels is appropriate. At this point, this system will be producing all students that are successful.
• By what we now call the 5th grade, teaching by computer or virtual presenter will occur on non- mathematical courses.
- Students will work by themselves on many subjects.
- Variation will be eliminated between teachers.
- Some students will even be able to work from home or satellite schools via the internet.
- Students will progress at their own speed in the virtual courses.
- Many will complete the required academics before 12 years have passed.
• In the virtual class, mathematical courses will begin in the 9th grade. (already done in South Carolina).
- Labs and sports will be held at some central location.
• Disruption of any type will not be permitted.
Quite frankly, in the 25,000+ that I taught using this method, I only had one student to cause a problem, but the students felt a high degree of confidence after they learned that fear was not a motivating factor.
• Teaching teams would be organized and would include all subjects, concepts, and virtual classes.
- A student would work through the same team.
- That team would be responsible for that child’s education from the beginning to the end.
- Team leaders would be chosen from the most creative, conceptionally adequate, and managerially sound persons.
• Dropout rates should decline immensely as the team would be responsible and paid according to their success rate.
Where did these ideas come from?
From home schooling parents, from teaching 25,000+ students myself, and personal observation of many public and private school classrooms.
What was accomplished using these methods?
People who were classified as functionally illiterate learned statistics went on to graduate from high school and college. Some were able to tell the management of companies how to improve their process. Others overcame their fear of education and developed life-long enjoyment of learning.
I started each class with my prayers.
This can be done if you add vouchers for every student.
My proposal is for the General Assembly of the State Of South Carolina to take all the money collected for education and divide by the number of students in the state and issue them a voucher that would follow them to what ever school their family chose.
We have tried to smear money on top of the old methods, and with the number of students in the process, it is impossible to make significant progress. Unions and government are the problem. Teachers with non creative attitudes are hurting many students, and those teachers with sound ideas are being frustrated by a system that is designed only to provide jobs, benefits, and extremely poor results.
We need not cite the current result here; as that can come later if nothing continues to be done.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Rex Rice, currently State Representative for District 26 - (Greenville & Pickens Counties) is making his bid for Federal House Seat 3. This seat is being vacated by Gresham Barrett - who is running for South Carolina Governor.
• He is running for (Federal) Congressional House of Representatives Seat / 3rd Congressional District (which is this area)
• He identifies himself as Republican.
• Rice will run against Neal Collins, Richard Cash, Jeff Duncan, and Shane Massey in the June 8th, 2010 Republican Primary.
• He is a member of Easley Presbyterian Church
Here's some notes from the rally:
WORD Radio's Lee Rogers was emcee
Chairman of The South Carolina Republican Party (SCGOP) Karen Floyd was introduced. She gave her support to Rice and indicated that she was delighted to have Mike Huckabee as the guest speaker.
Rice, came to the stage, and briefly spoke of his election since 1994 and that he has been energized to be involved since.
He discussed his many accomplishments.
He then introduced guest speaker Mike Huckabee ...
After a brief self introduction, Huckabee stated,
"The smartest thing you could do is send Rex Rice to Congress."
"The government can only affect me to my grave, I'd be a lot more worried if I were 20 right now. We (referring to South Carolinians) need to send people like Rex Rice to start now and we need not focus (yet) on the 2012 Presidential race."
"... the 2010 elections are about your future, not the future of Rex Rice."
"When I see good people running for Congress ... I think, it's not those who are yelling and screaming ... it's principled people like Rex Rice that are getting things done."
He also joked,
"I told him I'd come to South Carolina and be for him or against him; whichever would help him the most."
Huckabee also hoped that everyone will pay attention to this next election. He mentioned that many are disappointed in the Obama administartion, especially the young people who voted for him, and that's a reason we've seen the tide turn in states like Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.
He said that Rice has clearly demonstrated the fact he didn't live on an expense account, billing the state for his travels and he is obviously a different breed of cat.
"The reason I have great confidence in Rex is because I've looked at his record."
"Don't tell Rex your behind him ... say your with him."
"Rex Rice's campaign stickers were designed so you get 20% -40% better gas mileage if you put them on your car."
Huckabee urged everyone to get involved . He said to make sure everyone you know actually goes to vote. He said to make a list of:
"Follow up with them," he said, "...make sure they vote. Call them a few weeks, a few days before the election."
He said the economy is going to stay unstable until we get stability in Congress.
He mentioned that people often tell a political candidate,
"Glad your doing this, I sure couldn't do what you're doing."
"Well ...YOU don't have to ... Rex Rice is willing."
Huckabee then took a few questions from those in attendance.
A question about pairing up to bring the support from EVERY SIDE of the Republican and Conservative factions was made.
Huckabee stated, "My focus is getting people like Rex Rice elected now."
Another question was:
Should Republicans meet with the President?
"Yes ... but they should be prepared."
* Conservatives Of The Upstate does not endorse any political candidate and was not compensated in any way for any promotion or structure of this posting.
TAGS: Meet The Candidates
Friday, February 12, 2010
Last night I attended the February 2010 Conservatives Of The Upstate meeting ...
While there, I asked if I could speak ...
I asked everyone in attendance what they thought of the recent efforts to ban texting while driving.
I wanted to make it very clear before I mentioned my thoughts that I think texting while driving is dangerous, foolish, and I don't appreciate those that do it; potentially putting me or my family members in danger - especially with statistics showing that it's a growing public safety concern.
I then asked if anyone had eaten while driving, looked down to change the radio, or type in something on their GPS.
One comment was made, "I've seen a woman driving with her elbows putting on makeup."
I mentioned the number of twitter conversations I've had recently with SC State Representative Shane Massey (Shane was a guest at one of our Meet The Candidates nights.) regarding texting while driving as he helped debate the bill in a subcommittee.
Key points I've mentioned to Representative Massey:
• Enforcement of this law is an invasion of private property and should be seen as unconstitutional under the 4th amendment. Seeing a text message or even finding out your cellphone service provider is a violation of privacy.
* Police are entitled to reasonably attaining specifics about your car - which most police officers are able to do by a two second glance - I know I can. They are also entitled to the information on your state issued driver's license and state issued registration
* I trust in a police officer's ability to recognize reckless driving - if this is the charge - then he should have the right to pull me over - make the charge - issue a citation and let me go on my way - to pay my fine or show up in court and protest the charge.
• I have provided two scenarios:
- What if I had information pulled up on my iPhone about "homemade weapons silencers" (actually true ... out of curiosity, after watching an episode of "Forensic Files" I wanted to see why silencers are illegal.) Does this give an officer probable cause to search my car even though I've caused no accident or committed no crime against someone?
- What if someone as maniacal and "anything goes" such as Perez Hilton wants some confirmed gossip or rumor about a celebrity - could he pay off a police officer to pull them over and "look at their texts"? What about in the case of Governor Sanford - could someone have done this to him had we had this law in place?
• I've also raised the question to state legislators about how they plan to obtain cellphone records - when cellphone companies don't release that information under any circumstance other than terrorism or death threats now.
• I question whether the state or municipalities have considered the amount of training (and cost of that training) for all the different types of cellphones.
• I've said that the common argument for this law is,
"Other states are doing it?"
Other states are allowing legal marijuana.
Other states are allowing gay marriage.
This is South Carolina - we have always led the charge for freedom - we were the first to secede.
• Another common argument is statistics showing that it's worse than drunk driving.
Well, statistics also show that bans in other states have been ineffective.
• I've made the claim that "texting bans" are my generation's Brady Bill.
• I've framed all of my talks with this quote:
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~ Ben Franklin
No matter how you feel about the school construction plan in Pickens County, one must consider its real result. It's a plan conceived in infamy. The South Carolina Constitution was designed to prevent such unwise spending. It said that school boards were prevented from borrowing more than 8% of the appraised value of the taxable property in the County .
The McNair Law Firm of Columbia, S.C. helped the school board to circumvent both the law and the intent of the law in the Constitution. This whole plan was contrived in other counties before the Pickens plan, and had been litigated several times before. Each time the McNair firm found minor ways that the Supreme Court would agree with them so that the law could be circumvented, and deny the people their right to determine just how much school construction they thought that they could afford.
While the Supreme Court ruled that it was not illegal to form a dummy corporation, they never said that the law created a situation where the state could rearrange accounting principles so that an operating expense could be called bonded indebtedness. In July of 2009 the court ruled that the State was responsible for the school construction in six of the counties. In our opinion, Pickens County is entitled to a refund of all the money they have contributed to the construction. This money should be refunded to the taxpayers.
Senator Martin is introducing a bill in Columbia this January to make the property owners again be responsible for the school construction. He has always come down on the side of financing education out of the pockets of home owners. The General Assembly has shirked their responsibility prescribed by SC Constitution, Article 11 Section 3 every time so that its members could seek reelection and claim not to have raised taxes. The net result is 1000 foreclosures in the last year and a half and over 2000 delinquent taxpayers during the last three years. Construction has ground to a halt on new, expensive homes. Reassessment has not been done this year because home values are on the decline and would yield less tax revenue.
Will new schools and a larger debt equal to better school performance? Absolutely not; as seen in Greenville. It could yield even worse performance because the system is broken - many of our children aren't learning (38% dropouts, and 30% not passing the whole exit exam). There are at least 750 homeless students in Pickens County. Is it because the school board has priced home owners out of their homes? There are over 600 delinquent tax payers and 2000 foreclosures since the school board borrowed $400 million dollars. Could this have any correlation?
Thursday, February 11, 2010
If only we all could have the courage of this seven year old boy to stand up for what he sings about:
"Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?"
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Thursday February 11, 2010
Meeting at 6:30 PM @ 769 Belle Shoals Rd Pickens, SC 29671