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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I've been into several of the schools ...

I don't SEE the need for technology ... I see the district fitting within the means that the state will fund this year and that the county already supplements.

An interesting thing has happened ...

Computing power has decreased dramatically. With the advent of tablets/smartphones/and mobile operating systems - programmers have become more talented. A computer from 2007 runs the same OS or the latest OS as fast as a computer from last week. 

Most computers I saw were Core 2 Duo 2.5Ghz or faster. Most computers sold today are Core i3/corei5 Dual Core 2.2Ghz//2.3Ghz - the new processor represents a slight decrease in clock speed but only a maximum of 12% gain on processing speed. Older computers can be upgraded, newer computers/tablets are completely integrated.

Is the district honestly saying it wants to move to Windows 8 with a steep learning curve and obsolescence by this fall?

I also question ANY new computer purchase beyond necessary replacement- seeing as a 2007 computer has roughly the same processing power of a Cray Super Computer from 2000. What kind of processing do kids need for test taking, word processing, watching videos, playing learning games, surfing the Internet or even editing movies and music. The Promethean Boards couldn't POSSIBLY require immense computing power. Upgrade the memory if they are slow.

To say that we need anything beyond a sponsored for the needy BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy shows a fundamental lack of knowledge of the future of computing. The cloud is not a storage medium - it's a processing power - you need any device with Internet to access this power. 

Facebook is not a website - it's a powerful application hosted on a server but you access with ANY device that connects to the Internet.

Rusty Smith

Monday, February 23, 2015

Little Bits Adding Up To A Lot ...

Tonight is time for the School Board to meet.  

Please come and express your opinion about the increase in taxes.  We have over 1300 signatures on our petition to stop the tax increase.  

Last week, the weather was too bad to work or we would have had over 1500.  Our signatures come from all over the County, not just the Easley.

The most common comment I have gotten from those unwilling to sign is that they are against the increase, but are afraid of teacher's retaliation against their child or the administration's retaliation against their child' teacher.  

Great School Distict!  

Show courage my friends!

We are getting some blow back from former Board members who caused this problem in the first place.  One of these ex-members is the one that stood in my blueberry field and promised me that The Greenville Plan was a moot point and for me not to worry about it.  Now he wonders why the people can't pay even more!  I want all these big spenders to check peoples' electricity bills, etc. and tell me that more taxes are not a problem, and after that I want them to compare their retirement and benefits with others.

Junius Smith

Signature Collection High / Tax Collection Should Remain Low

Conservatives of the Upstate has collected over 1300 signatures of Pickens County citizens who do not want a property tax hike in Pickens County.

We all know a huge portion of our county tax dollars go towards public schools.
A Cato Institute study found real per pupil spending was on the average 44% higher than the figure a school district publishes for citizens to see.

If taxpayers cannot trust that their tax dollars are being used wisely then there is a problem. Taxpayers need the SDPC to ensure that every dollar is not only accounted for but used effectively.

Taxpayers are losing their jobs and homes and this is not the time to be asking for more money, especially when there is a mistrust of the facts around how our hard earned dollars are being spent.

A married elderly couple who signed the petition shared their story: He had just had surgery to remove a growth on his face and his wife began to speak. As she began, tears welled up in her eyes, and her husband had to finish for her. He said they had cut their own budget at home as much as possible just so they could pay their taxes. He said a meal out for them was ordering off the Value Menu at McDonalds. He said they were so strapped for money they didn’t know where the money would come from next year if there was another property tax increase.

There is too much misinformation about this tax hike floating around.  We need a public forum where the pros and cons can be presented to WE THE PEOPLE. We also need to allow the voters to go to the polls and vote yes or no; after all, we are the ones paying for education. 

Johnnelle Raines

Friday, February 13, 2015

Last time the Pickens County School Board met,  they spent $100,000 on outdated calculators.  I was told by a School Board member that they are required by the State to take their test.  I believe that the State should furnish anything they require to take one of their tests.  That $100,000 could have been used in this County to help a lot of people.  The State is responsible for education funding.  5% of sales tax and the education lottery were hoodwinked to us, the citizens, to pay for such things.  Think of the number of things we could buy with $100,000 that would help this County.  Call Senator Martin and tell him to stop the State government from throwing school funding off on the County.

Junius Smith

Another example of the state being in complete control of education:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

SC Legislative Panel Votes To Shut Down SC State University ...

Article 11 Section 3 of the SC State Constitution says that the State Of South Carolina is responsible for the funding of education …

 which also means that if they feel the schools are a financial liability; they can have them closed.

In the cases of Allendale and Fairfax schools in South Carolina, and now SC State University - it is established that the State Of South Carolina can close any school for academic failure and/or budget overruns.

At a recent school board meeting for the School District of Pickens County that was held to "discuss items not planned for in the budget", Junius Smith of Conservatives Of The Upstate pointed out that school districts needed to stay within their budgets and not borrow money that would put children in debt forever.

The State of South Carolina would NOT and could NOT allow the school district to close its schools. The point of the matter is the State would be forced to do their duty and fix the situation as they have with South Carolina State University.

School District Spokesperson, John Eby and pro-tax hike advocates have criticized the notion of closing the schools. Their obtuse understanding of the State's responsibilities and their mentality of an easy fix by raising taxes, rather than careful budgeting, has blinded their cause.

If the school district cannot live within their budget, our school district administration and teachers need to stand before the Govenor and our Legislature in Columbia to explain why they can't budget within their means.

The South Carolina House Ways and Means Subcommittee voted 3 to 1 to shut down SC State University because of fiscal failure …

Read more from The State newspaper:

House Panel Votes To Shut Down SC State

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

With Success Comes Recognition ...

This morning we got another 200 signatures for the people's "stop the tax hike by the Pickens County School Board".  While we were getting the signatures, I read a post on facebook that said that Conservatives of the Upstate was only a handful of members and that "The Smiths" were using the Constitution as a defense,  when it's proposed that operational expense items were the responsibility of the General Assembly of the State.  Well, that is the true measure of legality in South Carolina (Article 11 Section 3) just like robbing a bank is a criminal offense.  I cannot understand anyone so ignorant of our laws that they be in charge of leading any group, much less someone who is supposed to be supporting an academic endeavor. 

My children, one called by name, was belittled in the facebook post - for the sole purpose of bullying him amongst his peers. I have been taught to respect the law, while some of the remarks in the post made on facebook have no basis in law or respect for the ideas of others. My children have been taught about the free enterprise system which rewards hard work and opportunity (most of the time).  When it doesn't, one has to pick up the pieces and start over.  If one has chosen a government job, they tend to try to influence politicians and unelected officials of Boards & Commissions ~ most of the time at the expense of John Q. Public.

For instance, I have not heard about commitment to goals of improvement, just step increases. This is a union action.  For instance, if one lived around here fifty years ago, they would learn that our schools were producing results equal to or better than they are now.  Don't tell me that I don't know what I am talking about because just a few years ago, I had finished teaching 25,000 students the mathematical methodology of Statistical Process Control, 5000 of which had taken what schooling they had in Pickens County.  These students were woefully weak in mathematics.  Some were unable to identify signs such as  addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and square root.  Some didn't know how to find an average, range, and what a standard deviation was.  They didn't know what a simple trend chart looked like, etc.  Until we are willing to measure teachers based on performance and not whether the Principal likes them, we will not ever improve.  Until the State takes responsibility for their Constitutional duties and quits trying to shovel the responsibility onto the counties, we will always have this Ya Ya-ing. Notice that the Assembly Delegation always uses statutory laws in discussions with educational responsibilities rather than Constitutional responsibility.

John Eby and I were having a debate when I told him about the legalities of following a budget sent down by the State.  I said, in private industry when you do not make a profit, they would close your business, so if you cannot stay within a budget just shut down the schools.  (This was to make a point)  When some people butt into a conversation, for their own purposes, they usually take it out of context.  This is especially true of a person who hasn't read our State Constitution and wouldn't understand it if they did!

Junius Smith
President of the Conservatives of the Upstate