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Monday, November 11, 2013

Notes From The Pickens County School District "Ask Anything" Meeting

The School District Of Pickens County held the first of two "Ask Anything" meetings on Tuesday November 5, 2013 …

Forty one were in attendance. Three Conservatives Of The Upstate members were present.

Superintendent Dr. Kelly Pew gave an update on school district statistics and financials and also updated the public on the last phases of the countywide school building plan.

Dr. Pew stated that a common misconception of "common core" is that it is a "curriculum". She stated that "common core" was a "standard" - not a "curriculum". She said that recent negative press has misrepresnted "common core" and that the "examples" posted on Facebook and circulated in social media and email were from Greenville County and Charleston and not Pickens County.  Dr. Pew stated that the Pickens County "standards" were behind the times and weren't rigorous enough, so Pickens County chose to adopt the standards along with the State Of South Carolina.

After Dr. Pew's presentation, Philip Smith of Liberty asked the following question …
"During your presentation you mentioned the term "stakeholders" as being the body you consulted to implement common core. Can you identify who these "stakeholders" are? Pickens County parents don't feel like they were consulted. Also, can you tell us what all of these statistics would be without Clemson area schools factored in and would we still have the grade of "B" without them?"
Dr. Pew responded that stakeholders were Teachers, Principals, Parents, Businesses, The School Board, and The State Department Of Education. She stated that the School District doesn't break down statistics to the public in that way on a school by school basis. The District DOES however break these statistics down for the principals of all the schools.

Philip Smith followed up …
"You identified "stakeholders as parents. Again, "parents" as stakeholders don't feel represented in the matter."
Pew responded ...
 "Parents are not at the level of stakeholder that we sought input."
Junius Smith of Pickens asked …
"At a previous school board meeting I presented to you a court case from California and their Federal District court that ruled a council prayer was legal. This past week a New York District court gave another ruling that a city council was allowed to pray however they chose. The people don't feel like you've responded to any of their concerns on this matter."
John Eby, School District Of Pickens County Public Relations asked to respond partially …
"We have seen these cases but the issue with them is that they are in other districts. This is the 4th District and this district has a much more strict interpretation of the "prayer issue"."
Dr. Pew followed stating that the School District and School Board had consulted their attorneys and came up with the best possible solution that still involved a "board led prayer". She said the School District had to take a position where their insurance would cover them. She mentioned that other school districts have stopped prayer all together or have a moment of silence - so at least we have something more than that. She mentioned that each board meeting since the prayer issue, a preacher from a Pickens County Church, without coordination or coercion, has come forward to say a prayer as part of the public input portion of the board meetings.

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