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Friday, June 10, 2016

Some thoughts about a recent "Letter to the editor" ...

This past week, a "Letter to the editor" was submitted to The Pickens Sentinel ...

The letter was submitted by a Pickens County businessman whose business receives tax breaks from the county, yet advocates for tax raises on residents ... The letter blames everything from poor county conditions to schools on not raising taxes.

In response ...

The closing of the two schools in upper Pickens County is simple. It was an example of School Board mismanagement. Millions were recently spent on these schools and the schools were a fixture in the community. They were performing well academically. They are located in a more conservative part of the county (meaning; they were closed primarily to do away with a pocket of hostility towards taxation and government). It has been proven that smaller schools with good parental participation is a much better place for our children than the larger schools where participation in school activities by the students that live farther away from the neighborhood is minimized by the students that live closer. 

In my book, "Return to Pumpkinville" I explain in detail the disadvantages of heterogeneous parental economic and social status within a school population. I point especially to Daniel High School right here in Pickens County. The antagonism in the academic area between students from Clemson with those from Six Mile and surrounding rural areas was rife. There was a certain advantage handed the Clemson students in the hour classes were scheduled and the teachers that taught them. Only in athletics was there any spirit of unity. This was not a factor until the schools were merged from Clemson, Six Mile, and Central; all in the name of economy.  

When I taught 5,000 students from Pickens County, Statisical Process Control, I found glaring weaknesses in basic math and sciences. Students from Clemson were much more proficient, however in actual classroom performance there was basically no difference as the class unfolded. When I asked the students why this was, they revealed the difference in the way students were treated academically. When I casually questioned teachers about the difference, they immediately responded that the students from areas other than Clemson were not prepared. In other words, it was not their fault that 30% of the students didn't graduate from High School on time. The point is that there was a difference created academically by mixing these children with different backgrounds. Now we are doing the same thing with the children from northern Pickens County with others of different economical and social backgrounds. They will get less participation next year in school activities as those things are mostly already set. There will be points of teaching in subjects that will make a difference. 

There was already enough money because the Board had over-collected millions from the last budget. The idea that the schools are underfunded is ridiculous. They are mismanaged that is for sure.

There are many other examples in this State of failed consolidations and the problems I have just mentioned. To be factual, those advocating we put more money into education do not know what they are talking about. They do not want to obey the law in that the State is responsible for funding education. Then internally, the School Board does not obey the law when they switch funds from one thing the people were taxed for to another. (SC Constitution Sections 11-3 & 10-5) 

If the people who advocate all this taxing want change, they need to start with Columbia first and get the Constitution changed.

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