As the state’s chief executive, the governor should have a lot more to say about the direction of public education, as one of the state’s preeminent responsibilities. The best way to accomplish that would be to give the governor authority to appoint the state superintendent of education.…
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Both Gov. Nikki Haley and state Superintendent Molly Spearman are endorsing the change, and are urging the Legislature to put the question to a vote in the next general election.
In a letter to lawmakers this week, they point out that South Carolina is one of only 13 states where the superintendent is an elected official, “wholly separate from the administration of the governor.”
“Instead of moving the state forward with a common vision for education priorities, this divided leadership structure can result in incompatible positions, a lack of coordination and fragmented accountability for failures in our pre-K-12 education system.”
And there is an unfortunate record of failure in public education in South Carolina, which typically ranks among the bottom tier of states in many measures of student achievement.
We can build new, state-of-the art, beautiful schools. We can even consolidate schools into a single campus setting. And we can infuse those schools with dollars. And more dollars. We can have what amounts to pep rallies that are designed to instill school pride and a desire to learn. Yes, we can do all those things — and more — but at the end of the day, what really counts, what really reflects success are outcomes.
Those outcomes were just released last week and, frankly, some of the information is stunning, leaving people to wonder if we are too brick-and-mortar focused, too into the latest and greatest off-the-shelf craze that we have lost sight of performance-based teaching.…
We need to assess — and reassess — where the dollars are truly being spent and eliminate top-heavy spending at the expense of teacher-student ratios that inhibit learning.
And yes, we need to have some open and honest conversation about the real possibility of consolidation of school districts. Far better that take place at the local level too, before it becomes a legislative mandate.
Danger of wildfires
For the past several days, smoke from wildfires in the upstates of South Carolina and Georgia as well as western North Carolina wafted east toward Aiken County. Conditions reached near critical mass earlier this week that a Code Red alert was issued.
The alert status has since been downgraded, but the past week reminds us the impacts of wildfires aren't restricted to the regions they're scorching. Impacts can be felt hundreds of miles away.…
The current conditions also remind us that we should all take care when it comes to outdoor burning. Forty (40) percent of wildfires in South Carolina are caused by carelessness by people burning debris, according to the Forestry Commission.
The state agency also notes that proper notification must be given before any outdoor burning takes place. Even better, refrain from outdoor burning altogether with conditions remaining as arid as they are. A full guide can be found at http://bit.ly/2f5mICc.
Even if no fires are burning, there's still the issue of smoke. This can prove particularly harmful to people with medical conditions, young children or the elderly. The Forestry Commission is urging residents susceptible to the smoky conditions to limit their exposure until the smoke subsides. So are we.