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Letter: Questions for House District 52 candidates

Posted: August 9, 2018 4:29 p.m.
Updated: August 10, 2018 1:00 a.m.

It is an extremely positive reflection on our community that we have two very qualified and purposeful candidates for the House District 52 seat in the South Carolina General Assembly.  Contested races give voters a choice and promote healthy discussion and debate about the issues that impact our community.

Over the 43 years I spent in education, I never heard a political candidate who didn’t declare undying support for education.  Unfortunately, I have rarely seen the campaign rhetoric translate into specific positions or a plan of action.  To generate what I hope will be productive campaign discussion, I would like to offer several education questions for the House 52 candidates.  These questions address legitimate educational challenges facing Kershaw County and South Carolina. 

1. Although educators fully support accountability, our state’s emphasis on standardized testing has significantly increased and now drives much of what occurs in South Carolina classrooms.  Do you support re-evaluation of the role and amount of standardized testing in our schools?  Explain your position.  (Points taken off if you blame the federal government.  The feds, for example, didn’t require South Carolina to set passing scores on its standardized tests 20 per cent higher than most other states.)

 2. What specific legislation would you propose or support to resolve the serious and worsening teacher shortage in our state?  (Points taken off if you blame the other political party for this situation.  What’s your solution?)

3. Do you support tax credits for private school tuition if the private schools benefitting are not subject to the same rigorous and transparent accountability requirements as regular public schools?  Explain your position.

 4. The state currently funds Base Student Cost at about $500 per student below what is required by state law.  In Kershaw County, this amounts to about $6 million per year that is not going to Kershaw County classrooms.  Would you vote to approve future state budgets that do not fund Base Student Cost at the required legal level?  Explain your position.  

 5. The Kershaw County School Board is fiscally dependent, which means that Kershaw County Council controls local funding for education although Council has no constitutional responsibility for education.  This situation could be changed by the local legislative delegation.  Would you support change that would allow the School Board to have control of its own funding?  Explain your position.

I hope both candidates are willing to provide specific answers to these questions.  Maybe the Chronicle-Independent would even be willing to print their responses.  I do sincerely hope the discussion of education during this campaign will go beyond the usual platitudes.  

 

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