COTU MEETINGS ARE HELD MONTHLY

* SEE SPECIAL MEETING NOTES & LOCATIONS IN POSTS BELOW *

* IMPORTANT REMINDER *

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Conservatives Of The Upstate Presents: Homeschool

Conservatives Of The Upstate will present a free public forum on homeschool education for parents who are considering homeschooling or have recently started.

 

We have invited Gale Farrier from the SC Home Educators Association to speak about the legal aspects of homeschooling and decisions parents must make when choosing to homeschool.  

 

Kristi Brooks of Christian Home Educators of Easley has also agreed to participate in explaining the support that parents have when they take on the responsibility of homeschooling.  

 

Several homeschool parents will be present to answer questions and provide local support resources.


Date: 


Tuesday, July 21, 2015 6:30PM 

Program begins at 7:00 PM


Place: 


Easley First Wesleyan Church

104 West 6thAvenue

Easley, SC 29640

 

The event will also be available online via streaming video.  (Link soon)

 

Important links:


schea.net

 

cheeonline.squarespace.com

 

Contact phone for questions:  

(864) 230-0084.


Also, stay tuned to this site for more information.


Please invite a friend, a parent, a grandparent.


Also live streamed at:


http://pcvotes.com/livestream-2/

 

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Confederate Yankee ...

My grandparents came to Ellis Island in 1923. My parents spent their entire lives up north. I spent 40 years of my life in New York and about 10 years in South Carolina. I’m a northerner. I don’t have a southern heritage. Slavery is not in my family history or even part of the area I grew up in. Actually, none of this is my history. I can’t relate to most of it. 
What I do know is I've met a ton of white southerners who over the years have expressed strong feelings about the Civil War, southern history, states’ rights, the Battle Flag, slavery, the whole gamut. As a researcher by nature, I took it all in. 
Depending on who you talk to, they see the flag as representing one of three things: One is their southern heritage. What the south had, and what it lost. Second, and most relevant to today, they see the flag as representing states’ rights. Without a southern heritage or a history tied to slavery, to me the flag represents states’ rights. Particularly that South Carolina had the guts to say, we are tired of being pushed around by the federal government, federal courts and federal politicians, and we are out of here. After last week’s federal court rulings that stomped on the states, the issue of states’ rights is more relevant now than ever. Finally, many southerners look at the flag as honoring their relatives who fought in the war, gave it their all, and lost everything. When I look at some of them today, I can see a bit of their ancestors that fought in the war. The lineage is surreal to an outsider like myself. 
I can’t think of one white southerner I’ve met and have come to know that sees the flag as a sign of slavery or racism or white supremacy. Obviously they are out there, but I would say they are few and far in-between. By and large I think most have forgotten the slavery angle of the Civil War and they’ve long accepted integration. Like I’ve said, I’ve had scores of conversations about the Civil War, the 10th amendment circa 1860, slavery, battles of the war, etc.
I’m from New York. The racial tensions are so high there, you can count on the following chain of events whenever something occurs: An incident occurs, the political leaders and community activists jump in and play the race card throwing gasoline on everything and everyone, the media jumps in and throws a match on it all, profiting from a spike in viewer/ readers that follows. Protests start, and it culminates in street violence, clashes with the NYPD and then maybe a small scale riot. Just off the top of my head: Freddy’s Fashion Mart protest and fire, Gavin Cato’s death on a bicycle, Bernhard Goetz’s subway shooting, Howard Beach, Amadou Diallo sodomized by the NYPD, the list goes on and on. Entire political and community activists’ careers and organizations were built upon racial divisions and exploitation.
You can see in Charleston there were some attempts to escalate these murders to protests to violence down on the ground, but it didn’t happen because the people of this state don’t see the state as strongly divided on racial grounds. As a result, racial division and unrest has not become an industry here like it is in New York City. If racism on both sides in New York City is a 10. Here I gauge it at a 4.
So it is quite unfortunate, the national media has taken this flag controversy and used it to paint flag supporters and too often all South Carolinians as racists or white supremacists. That is an unfair characterization and simply untrue. If someone from NBC news asked me what I thought, I’d say, and how long have you lived in South Carolina? How many South Carolinians are you friends with? Once I got the deer in the head lights look, I’d tell them what I wrote above and say you are operating in a 1960’s time wrap and are clueless to sentiments today. Take your camera (lighter fluid and matches) back to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or where ever you came from and go fix the problems up there. These people can handle this themselves.
Here is a story that makes my point -- using 1960's photos, written by someone who works at the University of Illinois. Distort and amplify.

By Alex Saitta

Saturday, June 27, 2015

An Op Ed: Too Much Power?


The AdvancEd accrediting scare going on in the School District of Pickens County could and should have been avoided. It is past time for our state legislators to pass a law to give exclusive power to accredit our schools to the SC Department of Education. Power should be taken out of the hands of unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats at AdvancED. This group makes a profit off of the taxpayers for giving “THEIR” seal of approval.

Too much power over our children’s education is being given to people who are not held accountable by the taxpayers. Unelected bureaucrats making decisions such as excessive national testing, Common Core Standards and whether or not our schools get accredited should not be acceptable to WE THE PEOPLE!
In 2011, AdvancED put Wake County NC on an accreditation “warning” because Wake’s school board wasn’t following AdvancEd’s idea of what “best practices” should be.  The NC legislators saw through their agenda and passed a law saying no college bound student in the state would be rejected because of any lack of accreditation from this monopoly AdvancED.

The laws in SC are clear.  All authority and responsibility is given to SDPC Board.  If the voters don’t like our school board’s actions the solution is to VOTE THEM OUT.  

AdvancED is composed of outsiders who want to control our local school boards. AdvancED created rules called “best practices.” Their best practices force our elected board to follow unaccountable and unelected Superintendents’ and District Administrators’ suggestions and if the board resists, they are punished by losing their AdvancEd accreditation.
Why are Pickens County citizens allowing $21,000 a year to be paid to an outside, special interest group to “micro-manage” what “they” think our elected local board should or should not be doing? We are PAYING unelected people who have their own politically correct agenda to make a profit and second guess our elected officials?  Is that “best practices?”
This is way too much power to be given to a company whose CEO also represents AdvancED as a lead business partner with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). This is the same CCSSO who brought us developmentally inappropriate Common Core Standards.

It is time for SC state legislators to stop the monopoly AdvancEd from having too much power over SC children and our elected officials.
 
Johnelle Raines
Pickens, SC

Editor note: AdvancED is a for profit company that operates out of Georgia. Their average charge per school district is $20-$35,000. In NC legislative debate, AdvancED was deemed as "causing a stir for the sole purpose of justifying their existence rather than on the merit of the school districts they accredit." In fact, Pickens County Schools would potentially be at risk with a near 75% reading at grade level rate and two top 15 schools whereas lower SC school districts maintain near 50% reading rates and among the worst performance in the nation. These schools have no risk of losing accreditation.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Children lost 36,005+ lunches with latest school budget ...

Monday, June 22, 2015

Your presence is requested ...

Please attend tonight's School District Of Pickens County Board Of Trustees meeting ...

The final reading of the 2015-2016 budget will take place.

Monday June 22, 2015 
Meeting begins at 6:30PM
Public Portion begins at 7:00PM

SDPC Admin Building
1348 Griffin Mill Rd
Easley, SC 29640

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A quick explanation of over collection of taxes ...

Or, "Where does our school board 'find money'"?

When the budget is set up ~ say at 100 mils to produce $400,000 (a specific amount) and it produces $432,000 in revenue; it over-collects $32,000.  

That $32,000 by law 12-43-285 has to be credited to the tax payers or given as a credit on the next tax bill. 

Another example is if the revenue is said to be 98% collectable (accounting for non payment of taxes) and it actually is over 100% (because all properties are charged fees if late, or sold at auction of unpaid), that means there is another $8000 that should be refunded to the tax payers. 

(2%+ X  $400,000= $8000+)  

The same is true at reassessment time. The School Board or the County Council can not benefit from reassessment according to law. Put this in terms of $30 million and that is a quick $3,000,000 in over-collected funds.  

The money is not put up for a rainy day by the school board, it is spent on things not necessarily needed the same year, or in board terminology "found" for whatever pet project need or special interest appeasement they choose.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

An Op Ed: Accreditation Overblown?

I oppose State Representatives Neal Collins and Gary Clary’s effort to add a 7th seat to the Pickens County school board.
 
They said they are doing this because AdvancED wants this, but reading AdvancED’s report they did not mention 3 to 3 votes being a concern. I’m not surprised because there have been less than ten 3 to 3 votes of the hundreds cast by the six member board. And most of those votes were later settled by compromise among the board members. One of those tie votes that wasn't compromised was outside the purview of AdvancED monitoring (board prayer policy).
 
Instead, I believe Collins and Clary want to tilt the balance of the school board. In their bill H4299, a 7th seat would be added and Collins and Clary with the rest of our local SC legislature would select the new member. What a power grab!
 
The voters just elected 3 new school board members, but Collins doesn't like how they are voting, so he is taking matters into his own hands, filing this bill to add the 7th seat.
 
Remember, Collins was the one who didn’t like the Republican officers that local delegates voted for at the County convention, so he went to the state in protest there too. 
 
Pickens County is conservative and values local control and elections. We don’t want the state picking our local officials. Collins says he is a Republican. If so, he should believe in the conservative principle of elections and local control.
 
In the Barnwell 19 school district only 50.8% of students read at grade level. In Marboro that figure is 52.1% and Orangeburg 3 that figure is 52.4%. All three are accredited by AdvancED. 

AdvancED is going to take away Pickens' accreditation, one of the top 15 in the state? 

This is being overblown. 
 
 
Weldon Clark
Liberty, SC 

* Editor note: Only two schools in 45 years have had accreditation revoked by AdvancED.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Comparing Apples To Peaches ...

An article explaining the loss of accreditation at a Georgia School System ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/29/education/29clayton.html?_r=0

"The last school system to lose accreditation was in Duval County, Fla., in the 1969-70 school year, Dr. Elgart said. Many individual schools have also lost accreditation."

School "SYSTEMS" vs individual schools.

This was 45 years ago!

We are not at risk for any individual school.

Also Clayton County and the Atlanta area ARE NOT comparable in any way whatsoever to rural Pickens County. The make up of the students ethnicity is different as well as the article states.

Further, there are no ethical violations I see on the board other than a conflict of interest in the Easley District - a former teacher voting on her own raises in retirement and voting certain ways just to show out to a board member she dislikes. 

Furthermore, the article states that Clayton County's loss of accreditation was also in part due to outside influences manipulating the school board. I can think of no better example than CCPC in our area. So, if we lose accreditation we can be assured that they were the reason.

Despite Facts, "The We Want It Because We Want It" Crowd Refuses To Listen ...

Conservatives have answered every question "they" have asked with facts, screenshots, and quotes. 

What's the response you get? 

"You didn't answer my question."

It's almost a comedy routine.

A summary of facts:

- The school district is accredited through 2019. Period. (See picture)

- The board, in the chairman's own words, "would amplify dysfunction" with 7 members (see screenshot)

- AdvancED has apparently accepted anonymous letters and surveys from "special privilege stakeholders" (No one from Conservatives Of The Upstate, nor were conservative teachers asked to fill out the surveys). The anonymous comments are negative. Any positive comments are specifically attributed to specific board members and the superintendent that have not displayed conservative finance, principal, or management.

- The board, in the chairman's own words, has made great progress.

- The board, in the former chairman's own words, "we've only had 9 tie votes" out of (700+ votes) since the reduction of at large seats. All but TWO of those votes had no compromise and resulted in the measure not passing." 

ONE of those votes was not an issue under the purview of education (board prayer) and therefore not a concern to board conduct under AdvancED "monitoring". 

- Concerning prayer vote: It should show AdvancED that certain board members; Swords, Edwards, Cooper are not listening to their largest "stakeholders" - parents, pastors, taxpayers. Same with the 7th School Board member "issue" Same with the tax increase.

- During this vote on prayer that was outside the purview of AdvancED, one board member who is being called into question for his conservative votes asked the board peacefully, kindly, and professionally "Is there no compromise whatsoever here? What can we do to get this to a point of passing for you?"

Another board member who is also being attacked for conservative votes said, "this is clearly the will of the people" and "I think it would be cowardly to go home to my son and tell him we didn't pass a prayer policy that my constituents and we personally believe in"

- Pickens Senator Larry Martin thinks at large seats or seats in the Easley or Clemson areas would cause maligned representation and be open to money or special interest. Further, he believes redistricting and at large seats are unfair to minorities.

- In October 2013, a legislative delegation meeting was held to specifically address the 7th School board member issue - 22 of 25 speakers spoke out against adding a 7th school board member before a crowd of 100. The crowd applauded loudly for most of the 22 speakers.

- The Pickens County Council along with The Pickens County Election Commission have stated three things;

1) The cost of redistricting and a new seat would be $30-$35,000
 (A teacher's salary+ or 70 iPads) 

2) There is no money in the budget for this cost
(County Council lives within their means and REGULARLY states this) 

3) The monthly stipend, plus 4 year re-election costs to the county top an additional $6000 per year.
(Or nice maintenance, some sports equipment, more iPads, a teacher bonus or two)

- Teachers in SDPC may not have gotten all the raises that teachers in surrounding districts have BUT, it is easier to commute within Pickens County, overall it is safer, and the school district swallowed all but roughly $120 of $1000 plus in additional healthcare costs that OTHER districts gave raises to their teachers just to cover. We also have stellar facilities with kind support staff.

- A petition of 2050+ Pickens County residents was obtained in the dead of a rough winter for "no tax increase". Less than 50 refused to sign it, less than half of those because they wanted a tax increase.

- The only argument in this list ...

"We need an odd number of board members."

Proposition; reduce board to 5 from 6.

No, we want 7. 

Why? 

More representation is better. 

But 2 from Easley would be unfair to the other districts. If you go to 5 we could have even more money in the budget and Liberty and Easley would get a larger district and therefore more say. 

No! We want it! 

So, the end result, despite the facts - 

No! We want it!



Monday, June 1, 2015

Once upon a time ...

In the early 90's, Junius Smith wrote a book called "Return to Pumpkinville" ... Here's an excerpt that's rather déjà vu ...


(Click above to enlarge)