Columbia, SC — After her election to Richland 1 school board last week, social studies teacher Pamela Adams told The State, “I think everyone has a vision to take our schools from good to great.”
I remember being an idealistic young teacher like that. When I moved to South Carolina from Ohio, I was filled with immense hope and enthusiasm for my beautiful adopted home state.
Some 40 years later, I am chagrined at my naivete. In the 1970s, I honestly believed that state officials had the best interests of the citizens at heart. I assumed they entered public office for reasons similar to those that motivated teachers: to serve others and to bring about positive change in individuals’ lives.
Sadly, we have saddled ourselves with a group of lawmakers who seem interested only in obstructing forward movement and determined to keep South Carolina in the dark ages. Take, for example, health care. This year, the House passed a bill to “nullify” the Affordable Care Act, making a criminal out of any state worker caught implementing the law. If not for time running out in the Senate, we might have been forced to dole out millions of tax dollars on this unconstitutional position in opposing the federal government.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these legislators felt equally passionate about doing something positive, such as funding public education? Unfortunately, last year our state actually turned down money from the federal government to improve the educational opportunities for our children. That money went to other states … and to other children.
The two most important issues on the table today — affordable health care for all citizens and the funding of public education — are being postponed, as if they were secondary matters. Granted, lawmakers will be back in town Tuesday to finish the budget, but the statewide reading initiative failed altogether.
I want to urge Ms. Adams to maintain her optimism and to work for improvement however she can. And I pray urgently that those who are charged with making policy and governing will give her — and the rest of us — reason to be hopeful about the future of South Carolina.