Board of education undecided on EOC
I write to clarify that Mike Brenan's letter ("Oversight committee crucial to education," Feb. 8) regarding the Education Oversight Committee and his attack on state Superintendent Jim Rex does not represent the views of the State Board of Education. While Mr. Brenan has the right to express his opinion, I find it ironic that Gov. Mark Sanford's most recent appointee to the board seeks to perpetuate another layer of bureaucracy in our public school system, given the governor's penchant for smaller and more efficient government.
We all agree accountability is a vital and necessary component of any successful system, and Dr. Rex did not propose eliminating or reducing accountability. He merely suggested taking a new look at the method and efficiency of the current system, given the austere financial situation we now face.
Our board, a diverse group appointed by the Legislature, has not taken a position on the future of the EOC. We have worked collaboratively with the EOC in the past to develop methods to measure the progress of our schools and their students. We also work together in a bipartisan fashion with the staff at the state Department of Education to ensure all children in South Carolina have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education. We welcome the oversight of the legislators who appointed us, and trust they will do so in the most cost effective manner.
Chair, State Board of Education
McMaster's stance on cigarette tax shocking
According to an article in Tuesday's paper, Attorney General Henry McMaster, a "leading Republican candidate for governor," will not support raising our state's lowest in the nation cigarette tax for any reason. His spokesman, Rob Godfrey, is quoted as saying "Henry McMaster wants to cut taxes to create prosperity."
As a pediatrician practicing in South Carolina, I find this stance truly frightening. Research has proven that increasing cigarette taxes results in fewer young people smoking. The money is honestly not the issue here.
In the best of all worlds, I would love to see an increase in the cigarette tax fund health care and education. But, the reality is that if we increase the cigarette tax and throw the money in Lake Murray, we will still have done an enormous amount of good for the youth of South Carolina.
I would like to see prosperity and good health for all of the citizens of South Carolina. I don't see how Attorney General McMaster's approach can accomplish that.
DEBORAH GREENHOUSE, M.D.
Children's health not a priority for state
Isn't it about time that the General Assembly makes funding for children's programs a priority? With Department of Health and Human Services facing substantial cuts, our children's future and the state's future is at stake.
The Legislature voted to allow children whose families make up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify for health care through the federal/state SCHIPS program so that uninsured children of the working poor could access care. But only about 15,000 children have been added in the past three years; there are likely 70,000 to 100,000 eligible children who have not been enrolled.
Funding for the state match must be increased so that children can have a primary care physician and not wait to go to a hospital emergency room when an ear ache becomes a chronic infection that could lead to loss of hearing.
These children do not receive a monthly check; they can receive a card accepted by physicians for payment for well-child checkups and care. Children who are ill or have toothaches will not be successful in school. They will not be the best of South Carolina, and the state will not attract business because our work force has been short-changed by lack of care of our children.