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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

You Scratch My Back and I’ll Scratch Yours
Representatives Neal Collins and Gary Clary from Pickens County have signed on to supporting House bill 4778 which requires ALL SC school districts to have to be accredited by AdvancED a non-profit, non-elected governmental organization beginning with the 2017-2018 school year. 2014 Financial disclosure shows AdvancED earned $27,103,603 in 2014. And that’s their income from not just SC school’s tax dollars.  Wonder what the projected income will be after it is MANDATORY that ALL SC schools use them? I foresee raises for the administration of AdvancED in the future from this sweet deal.  
Yes you read that right. Collins/Cleary are pushing legislation which would make a business a MONOPOLY in the state of SC. AdvancED stands to earn millions in fees from all the SC School Districts/Schools.
It is my understanding The School District of Pickens County pays AdvancED approximately $21,000 a year. The fees are based upon the size of the district. Now multiply that estimate of $21,000 by 81 school districts…not to mention fees to pay them to “rehabilitate” the district when they give them a bad review and offer classes on how to improve on “best practices.”
AdvancEd comes out with a sweet guaranteed income which pays un-elected people your tax dollars to tell YOUR elected school board what they can and cannot do.  
Is this even legal?  Can a legislature mandate all school districts do business with ONE particular business?
Recently, Rep. Neal Collins and Rep. Gary Clary along with Rep. David Hiott and Senator Larry Martin got involved in the School District of Pickens County when the school board had some difficulty with AdvancED, a non elected group of people who claim they are non-partisan.  AdvancED notified the School District of Pickens County they were not following “best practices.” This situation was resolved and there is no longer any controversy over the accreditation after the School Board fully cooperated with AdvancED’s mandates to follow their idea of what “best practices” are. 
A group known as Concerned Citizens of Pickens County led by Robin Nelson Miller have been advocating for higher taxes so that our school system can be “restored.” WE are one of the top performing school districts in the whole state so I don’t know what “restored” means other than let’s get more taxpayer money. CCPC has been in close contact with Rep. Neal Collins, Gary Clary and David Hiott as well as Sen. Larry Martin.  This group has not been pleased with the conservative board members on the board who are trying to keep our taxes low and even go so far as to accuse our conservative elected board members of not being education advocates simply because these conservative board members don’t want to fleece the taxpayer. CCPC and Rep. Neal Collins and Clary have been advocating for a 7th school board member for quite some time so that CCPC’s ideology of a tax increase for schools would more likely happen.
So guess what? Yep… House bill 4299 Legislation was introduced by Rep. Neal Collins and Gary Clary to make it a law that a 7th school board member be added. That bill is now in the Senate. This 7th school board member would be an at large member appointed by the Delegation and most likely would be a person who has the ideology of supporting tax increases for the schools which would make Robin Nelson Miller and CCPC deliriously happy.
Now let’s connect the dots. Why would Rep. Neal Collins and Gary Clary be on board with legislation to add a 7th school board member AND also legislation which mandates that AdvancED be given the sole contract for accreditation of ALL SC schools?
My theory is “If Collins/Clary scratches AdvancED’s back by lining their pockets with our hard earned dollars then AdvancED will scratch theirs by making sure they keep the School District of Pickens County School Board members in line with their idea of what “best practices” are. Now tell me again how AdvancED is non-partisan?
Pressure from AdvancED will be applied to our duly elected School Board members to bow to Rep. Neal Collins/Clary/ and CCPC’s ideology of raising taxes because that is “best practice.” And AdvancED has already gotten a sweet deal via Collins’ because these legislators just awarded them exclusive contracts with ALL SC PUBLIC SCHOOLS to make them an assured millions of dollars annually.
Now let’s continue to connect the dots.  As of right now we have another crisis in the School District of Pickens County.
The school board is threatening to close several small schools and consolidate by reconfiguring grade levels as well as raise taxes. Is this an example of AdvancED’s idea of  “best practices”? My guess is AdvancED would love this reconfiguration plan and closure of small schools. My guess is Rep. Neal Collins and Gary Clary along with most of our other Pickens Delegation legislators would love it as well. My guess is CCPC and Robin Nelson Miller loves this plan as well. Rep. David Hiott stated in a recent email to me that, “Our main priority is making sure Pickens County Schools do not lose their accreditation.” I’m fairly confident the “our” in his response meant Pickens legislators Rep. Neal Collins and Gary Clary, as well as Robin Nelson Miller’s group CCPC.
It is my belief that AdvancED is the driving force behind everything our board is doing since this whole threat of losing accreditation occurred.  AdvancED are the ones pushing our duly elected school board members to make decisions based on AdvancED’s idea of what “best practices” are by threatening to withhold accreditation from our school district if they don’t follow their “best practices.”  Isn’t that called bullying or strong armed politics…coming from a group who claims to be non-partisan and is non-elected?
Do you like the thought that a non-elected business controls your school board? I don’t.
However, Rep. Neal Collins and Rep. Gary Clary must want AdvancED to have this power so the scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours cooperation will be in place and produce a win win for them…but a loss for Pickens County children and taxpayers. How can closing small schools be in the best interest of a child where there is lower teacher-child ratio?
Too much power over children’s education is being given to AdvancED who are not held accountable by WE THE TAXPAYER. Unelected bureaucrats making decisions about children’s future and our tax dollars is not acceptable.
Our School Board is accountable to us…if we don’t like what they are doing we vote them out.
 If you don’t like what AdvancED is requiring of your school district… too bad…you have no recourse as Rep. Neal Collins and Rep. Gary Clary want to make it mandatory that all that power is given to AdvancED all over the ENTIRE State of SC.
You should contact Collins and Clary and tell them you don’t like their “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” tactic and you should also vote them out of office next election cycle for even thinking that a non-elected business should have that much power over your tax dollars and children’s future.
And while you are it…ask them…Why can’t the School District of Pickens County have the option of being accredited by the South Carolina Department of Education like charter schools? 

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