A national sports column touted tonight’s Clemson-Alabama national championship game as a classic “good versus evil” matchup, pitting Clemson’s ebullient, team-bonding approach against the heavy-handed, machine-like tenor of Alabama’s game.
From Greek myths to modern philosophies, mankind has found it easy to describe conflicts, from sports contests to global war, by classifying one side as “good” and the other side as “evil.” We humans seem to like dichotomies, pitting opposites against one another, making distinctions clear.
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South Carolinians experienced a world of dichotomies in the last half of 2015 in which the “good versus evil” theme emerged again and again. We are likely to live in a world of continuing extremes in 2016.
We saw unspeakable tragedy in Charleston, and yet were uplifted by grace and forgiveness of the human spirit. We experienced vast devastation in the October flood, yet saw an outpouring of assistance and generosity as neighbors and strangers alike pitched in to help one another. Much has been written about both situations, with a common rejoinder that our collective sense of community and understanding should continue in “normal life,” not just in extreme upheaval and hardship. Our sense of reacting to bad with good should be a welcome norm.
Now several days into the new year, we have made our resolutions and are either resolutely following them or have already discarded them. One of our successful resolutions should include maintaining thoughtful, enlightened attitudes in 2016. We likely will see this resolve challenged. We already have seen harbingers of this in comments about the upcoming legislative session. The idea floated by a legislator in December to return the Confederate flag to the State House grounds should put us all on high alert. The mere consideration of such an idea would undermine the significant progress that we as a state have made.
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Certainly, infrastructure concerns will dominate early discussions in the Legislature, with the Senate taking up the roads bill with its gas tax increase and the autumn floods only heightening the necessity of this discussion.
However, improving education in poor districts, inadequately considered during the 2015 legislative session, is also a strategic infrastructure need. Fair and adequate education for our public school students in poor, rural areas will improve the lives of our children and provide for the future economic and social growth of our state.
Although a House task force has met several times and produced a plan to respond to the S.C. Supreme Court’s order for the Legislature to provide a decent education to all children in the state, the Senate’s panel has not been as active. Sen. Wes Hayes, who co-chairs the Senate committee, sounded less than optimistic in a recent newspaper article about the prospects in the Senate.
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“We’ve got the roads bill in special order first up,” he said. “Just to get that and the budget done this year will be a challenge in the Senate. Plus, trying to get a major education bill done … it’s going to be a challenging year.”
As South Carolinians, we must make certain that the Legislature goes beyond merely “trying” to provide a plan to bring equity to all our students. Insisting on passage of education improvements should be part of our new dedication to enlightened thinking. In the dichotomy of good versus bad, certainly educational equity falls resoundingly in the “good” column.
Ms. Beasley is an educator who lives in Columbia; contact her at email@example.com.