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S.C. is 50th in education

Someone should go to jail

Posted: March 9, 2017 1:19 p.m.
Updated: March 10, 2017 1:00 a.m.

Some will think this is too strong. I don’t. Just read on and make up your own mind.

Recently, US News and World Report released a study of the 50 states based on 68 different metrics in seven categories: health care, education, infrastructure, crime and corrections, opportunity, economy and government. For the full report, Google: US News and World Report Best States.

South Carolina ranked 45th overall and 48th in opportunity but let’s just focus on education; S.C. ranked 50th – dead last, the bottom. No "Thank God for Mississippi" here; we’re Mississippi.

The report combined 11 different measures of education and we were generally bad on most of them – thus our overall rating of 50th. The only bright spot was we ranked 4th in pre-K quality.

What was the reaction to our 50th ranking from those most responsible for ensuring quality education for our children?

Gov. McMaster, nothing. Lt. Gov. Brian White, nothing. The other five statewide elected officials, nothing. Speaker of the House Jay Lucas, nothing. Senate President Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman, nothing. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, nothing. The chairs of the House and Senate education committees, nothing

Googled the news story and look for comments from these people, nothing, nada, zero, not a word, crickets.

Where is the outrage? Where is the shock and dismay? Where is the call for a special investigation? Where is the business community speaking out? Where are the parents, students and teachers marching down Main Street to the Capital demanding reform?

Nothing, nada, zero, not a word, crickets.

No one says a word. No one goes to jail.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Have we become so discouraged and beaten down, are our leaders so apathetic, that we don’t even respond? No outrage, no protest, no anger?

Nothing, nada, zero, not a word, crickets.

We have become a culture that does not hold people accountable. There are dozens of examples where we should be outraged that no one is held accountable. Here are just two that drive me crazy -- one national, one South Carolina.

Consider the global financial crisis of the past 10 years -- our economy driven to the brink of meltdown, millions of jobs and homes lost, tens of millions of ordinary people with their hopes and dreams shattered through no fault of their own. Dreams shattered by the financial ruin triggered by Wall Street speculators, deal makers and crooks.

And what happened? Not a single person was charged with a crime, no one went to jail -- not one.

Today, our state’s pension fund is on the brink of disaster and one of nine South Carolinians’ financial future is in jeopardy. In 1999, the state pension plan was 99 percent funded; today the deficit of $24.1 billion is more than triple our state’s annual budget. At one point, of the 50 states we paid the most in fees to Wall Street money managers and had the lowest investment return -- triggered by Wall Street speculators, deal makers and crooks.

And what happened? Not a single person was charged with a crime, no one went to jail -- not one.

I’m not a lawyer so I can’t say what’s legal or not, but I’m a person with a little common sense and a huge sense of outrage. If these things and countless others are not against the law, then they ought to be and we should hold our elected officials -- those who make the laws -- accountable.

As outrage builds, what happens?

Nationally, the people have just responded to these countless outrages with a roar. I’d argue it was a misguided roar -- but they roared. They elected a president who makes things up, deceives people, says awful things about women and minorities and just plain lies about as often as he tells the truth.

We elected him because he gave voice to our sense of frustration and outrage. In South Carolina, 1,143,611 or 54.9 percent of us roared -- we voted for him.

But somehow, we don’t roar at the outrage of real "crimes" -- crimes against our most vulnerable -- our children. Where is the outrage against the crime of poor schools that condemn our children to a dead-end job and too often a dead-end life? Remember, S.C. ranked 48th in opportunity.

Think about South Carolina as if it were a company. The governor is chairman of the board, the lietuenant governor, treasurer, comptroller and other statewide elected officials are the board of directors. These folks set overall policy and are overall responsible. The legislature is senior management; they make the rules and regulations and decide how the money is going to be allocated. And in terms of education, the local school boards, principals, teachers, etc. are the line workers. The students and their education are the product.

And the product is the worst in the country.

We, the people of South Carolina, are the stockholders. We choose the board and senior management -- and we get to vote on their performance every two years.

We know their performance/product -- 50th in education, 48th in opportunity, 45th overall, etc.

The question now is what will we do?

No one says a word. No one goes to jail.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

We the voters, are the stockholders, judge and jury.

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