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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Failed education policies ...

The failed Educational policies of the South Carolina General Assembly in the last 65 years

1.  In the early 1950's there were 11 grades and no kindergarten, so the General Assembly of SC added Grade 12 for the purpose of better preparing students in the sciences and math such as physics, chemistry, biology, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.  The cost of education went up 8.3% across the board as there were curriculum experts and other administrators added at the district offices along with assistants to this and that.  Graduation rates are down not up.  The students don't take the difficult courses if they can be avoided.  College professors complain that the students are not properly prepared.  Early dismissals were given to students who were not planning to go to college.  Some courses were spread over twelve years rather than 11.  Counselors were added, but they were usually a teacher with extra duties.

2.  In 1950, James Byrnes asked the people of South Carolina to grant him a 3% sales tax for the purpose of building "separate but equal" schools to avoid integration.  When the federal courts denied this practice, the General Assembly did not take the tax off, but took hold of the money for purposes other than what they had told the people.  Later Governor Riley, a Democrat from Greenville, added another 1%, for the children. In 2006, Act 388 added another 1% sales tax to eliminate property tax on personal residences.  This made for a total of 5% - then tack on an educational lottery which the people were told that it was "for the children", but in actuality, is mostly used for college scholarships for state high school and college students with a B average.  Immediately the colleges went up massively on tuition which amounted to another tax on the families of SC who sent their children to state colleges.  This gave the colleges a massive increase in revenue, and allowed them to pay professors a lot more money and add massive increase to administration.  The graduation rates in colleges have been low and families have wasted much money trying to get their children through college.

3.  The General Assembly has taken statutory legislation and used it to rewrite the Constitution of the State.  There have been several huge educational legislations that violated Article 11 Section 3 which says the State is responsible for education.  The Education Finance Act was one of the first and without going into the guts of this unconstitutional act, the General Assembly coined new words to describe their action towards making the Counties responsible for funding while they maintained control.  One of these words was "local effort" which meant the counties would have to massively raise private property taxes.  The General Assembly gave them the tool to do the job: Property reassessment every five years. They change the bases in order to increase property tax. They then published such goring reports as the rank by county of "local effort".  What did they think the 5% sales tax we were paying to the State was; foreign effort?  This "local effort" law touched off a war between the teachers unions, liberals, and associations and the conservative groups in the State over more money for teachers and administrators.  Instead of working together to help solve school problems, we fight with each other.  Good job General Assembly!

Next the State Supreme Court got into the act.  To digress a bit: The Supreme Court Judges are appointed by the Senate, and one Pickens County official is quoted as saying at a public meeting, "We put them in and we can take them out" when speaking of judges in the 4K Kidergarten funding case.  After Judge Cooper ruled against the State, he suddenly retired.  The people wonder why? In an Abbeville County case, the State was sued under the premise that the Education Finance Act was illegal. During this case the term "minimally adequate" was coined to describe the level of education funding that was acceptable in South Carolina while pushing the school districts to be excellent in performance.  It did not work.  South Carolina has remained near the bottom of the education performance ladder.  They have not even provided the "minimally adequate" funding required as Pickens County was shorted some $10 million dollars this year alone.

4.  The unconstitutional actions by the General Assembly in not taking responsibility for funding education has caused local districts to spend most of their time budgeting and trying to fight off teacher unions and movements.  There has not been one sustainable local improvement in test scores, and dropout rates.  In fact, some performance measures show that its gotten worse for students over the years.  State performance tests have changed almost as many times as a tennis ball going over the net in a tennis match.  Such names as CTBS and Pass are taught in the classrooms.  These changes keep teachers and principals from being properly evaluated based on these tests.  Instead of having uniform salary structure like most all government entities have; the schools are set up for a "dog eat dog" fight with other counties.  The county with the most money always wins an economic battle of this type.

More parents are home schooling than ever because of curriculum and discipline problems in the public schools.  Charter schools are doing a much better job and so are private schools are  wasting far less.  

Teacher's children permeate the charter schools where ever they are available. Consider that for a moment.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Why we can't trust those in charge of the Educational Structure in this state ...

While this article will only cover the past 65 years, it will depict the misleading, and in many cases, unconstitutional promises made by the South Carolina General Assemblies and Governors.  

Lets start first with funding of education. 

In 1950, Governor James Byrnes asked the people of South Carolina to approve a 3% sales tax for the purpose of building "separate but equal" schools in South Carolina.  This building program was supposed to eliminate racial advantages for whites and construct new schools where needed.  The US Supreme Court ruled against such a program.  The General Assembly took the people's 3% and used it as they pleased.  At the time that all this happened, the education system was financed by part of the income tax, a tobacco & alcohol tax, and the 3% sales tax.  But, when the politicians saw how much revenue the sales tax would bring in, they followed the 3% tax with another 1% sales tax.

Governor Riley, a Democrat from Greenville, succeeded in persuading the people to vote for the other 1% sales tax; again using "the children" as bait for the addition.  Soon, all money was put into a "general " account so that the powers that be in Columbia could dip their hands into our pocket book for schools and start projects completely unrelated to education.

Meantime, in Pickens County, school funding was controlled by the legislative delegation.  Of course the General Assembly could raise taxes because they were responsible for education under Article 11, Section 3 of the State Constitution.  This meant that the State Senator and elected members of the House of Representatives were the only other people that could raise taxes through "local legislation" and thus more revenue for the schools. "Local legislation" was a system of legislation that could be used when the legislation proposed only affected a single county.  All Legislators in the General Assembly would vote "yea" as a courtesy, but this procedure became unpopular to the politicians because the citizens still held the local state politicians responsible for tax increases.  The resolution to this problem was to give the Pickens School Board limited funding tied to some index like the CPI.  This solution was popular with both the legislative delegation who dodged the people's ire at tax increases, and at the same time, paved the way for teacher salary increases without going through the General Assembly.

Senator Larry Martin is quoted as saying "I don't want to be a super school board member".  He and our elected State representatives didn't want to live up to their constitutional responsibilities, and they could avoid any responsibility for the tax increases that were to come, as illegal as they are under Article 11 Section 3 of the Constitution.  This type of attitude has created havoc in the County and a debt of nearly $400,000,000.  It has put liberal citizens at odds with conservatives as teachers push for more local money and most of the people in the county feel they are taxed enough already.

Everytime politicians want more money, they use "our children" and their "schools" as bait to get it.  Along comes State Act 388: add 1% more sales tax and drop the property tax on owner occupied residences and We, the state government, will be responsible for all operating expenses of the schools.  It was a big fat lie.  This year alone, Pickens County was cheated out of at least $10,000,000 because the state failed to fund the proper amount for each student.  In addition to the 10 million underfunding,  We, the people have contributed 5% sales tax and a lottery over the years for education.  Under the Constitution, the State is responsible for education (Article 11, Section 3) not the counties.  If the state did their job, and lived up to their responsibilities, the people have put in 5% sales tax and the lottery to fund education K-12 adequately.

Our last topic is about the court system. The Supreme Court  judges are appointed by the General Assembly.  In turn, there have been questionable decisions made by the judges that affected school funding.  One decision is the Abbeville case where the judges used the term "minimally adequate" when referring to the quality of education that was to be provided by the state.  There is no such phrase in the Constitution.  A second example is that the Supreme Court accepted an affidavit from the top SCAGO official in the Colleton County case as being the best evidence, and decided the case where billions of dollars of local tax money was at stake.  This is just two cases where the merits of evidence were filed against statutory laws NOT constitutional laws. Alas, it's typical of the decsions made on school funding.  They are al
most always against the tax payer.

Junius Smith 
Conservatives Of The Upstate

Stay tuned for more on this topic ...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Liberty Board Member Is Swing Vote On Prayer Issue In Pickens County

Liberty District 4 school board member Dr. Brian Swords is the swing vote on the issue of prayer.

He voted to table the issue previously.

The decision could have an impact on prayer elsewhere in the County.

Please contact Dr. Swords and tell him you stand behind prayer at our school board meetings.

The proposed policy (posted in comments) is backed in full by SC Attorney General Alan Wilson + two recent Federal District Court decisions.

Dr. Brian Swords email as posted on school district website:

If commenting, please keep comments kind & constructive.

Sign The Petition ...

Conservatives of the Upstate will be at Pickens jockey lot table 241B on "the new side" (under the shed) to collect signatures for a "no tax increase" petition.

Weather permitting, we will be there throughout the month of March each Wednesday morning until 11:30am. 

If you cannot meet us at the flea market, find petitions at:

Mobil Station in Six Mile

Grill at Spangler's Gas Station on Hwy 183

Durham's Gas Station on Hwy 183.  

More locations to follow ...

Stay tuned to:

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Hook For Education: Technology or Spending?

Dear Mr. Moody,

I read your column on School Technology needs and wants.  I followed the conversation last week on Concerned Citizens of Pickens County-The Whole Truth.

First, let me give you some of my background versus your "expert source" cited in your article. I was with Milliken for 15 years, reaching the level of plant manager. While at Milliken, Roger Milliken sent all his middle and top management to "Freedom School" in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There, we learned the evils of Marxist socialism. Headmaster Robert LeFevre correctly forecast that a socialist takeover would arise from the bottom up (City/County level) rather than the top down (State/Federal level) - using our children as the fish hook. Dean Hybl and his organization "Ten At The Top" - in conjunction with "Upstate Forever" - are facilitating the stringing of the hook.

On May 27, 2010 a speech was given at the Business In Action Conference, where a concept was introduced by Upstate Forever called "Natural Capitalism". This speech suggested that every school project be under the umbrella of a "Green for Greenville" certification. The speech suggested that it did not matter the means to get there, but that it would just be a win-win environmentally and economically.

Technology is wonderful, inspiring, and necessary in today's world. However, learning basic Math, English and Science is the first step to a great education. Technology can enhance this learning greatly. But too much technology versus quality instruction time learning the basics can become a crutch and a toy; rather than the inspiration it was meant to be. Curriculum is centered around the use of technology; but learning is centered around understanding of basics -  concept building upon concept.

The Capital Needs Plan presented by the School District Of Pickens County is a bait and switch plan designed to fool the public. Technology is being paid for by the State, but continues to be included in this local budget. All educational spending is the responsibility of The State Of South Carolina (SC Constitution Article 11 Section 3). It seems those in favor of the tax increase don’t care how we get the technology or what we do with it, they just want it, constitutionally or not.

There isn’t a specific, set goal with this spending. There isn’t a list of specific item by item spending. There’s just an ambiguous goal of “Top 5 District”.