Of the 183 prefiled bills for the upcoming South Carolina legislative session, only a handful warrant immediate attention (see the list below). There is, however, an issue that is not only important, but critical to the state’s future. The issue is so necessary to the very soul of South Carolina that I challenge the assembly to suspend ALL other debate, discussion, energy and effort and dedicate the entire 2014 session to its resolution.
For all that is wonderful about the Palmetto State, its great shame, its self-inflicted wound is an inferior education system. “System” is the appropriate word because the educational deficiencies in South Carolina are systemic; the progeny of moral and political corruption, fiscal buffoonery and social negligence.
The failures are legion and have been documented in constant and excruciating detail over the decades including, a film that got national attention. It’s one thing to invite ridicule by flying the Confederate battle flag on State House grounds, or host reality shows about trailer park life, but education should be the most precious jewel in any state’s crown. The quality of schools is one of the first things businesses check before investing in a state. Educational value is what we depend on for our children and their future. It determines their success and prosperity. The better educated a society, the safer it is. It is, then, not hyperbole to contend that education is necessary to the very soul of South Carolina.
Governor Haley’s proposed school funding formula is a start, but only if passed by the legislature and swiftly implemented. And, it’s only a start. “Starts” have been plentiful for the last couple of generations. It’s time we had a finish.
To accomplish what is needed for our educational process, I challenge the South Carolina legislature to forgo all but the seven propositions listed below and concentrate the entire agenda on solving – SOLVING – the educational (K-12) problems in our state. Time does not need to be wasted on naming intersections or designating the wooly mammoth as the official state fossil. Even Senator Katrina Shealy’s laudable proposal to eliminate the state income tax can wait.
ALL of it can wait, but the preventive maintenance of our children’s education cannot wait.
The repair of our schools cannot wait.
The equalization of opportunity cannot wait.
Our state’s prosperity and vitality cannot wait.
The future cannot wait.
Send a message that South Carolina is a worthwhile investment because we know the importance of investing in knowledge. Let the poor, the disabled, minority and rural children and their families know that we value them.
Make history. Make news. Make it right! Show the country that South Carolinians can work together to do the right thing.
IMAGINE the impact this will have, not just on South Carolina, but the nation. Consider the attention this will bring to our state – positive attention. For those Senators and Representatives who are afraid of such a national spotlight, apprehensive about failure – GOOD! Be very afraid. So afraid that you will not accept anything but bipartisan, effective success. The politics of fear can be a helluva motivator. And it is motivation we so desperately need.
Be the ones.
Of the 183 prefiled House and Senate bills, the following have a measure of immediacy. Note they all directly affect the children in our state.
S.818 – Driving Under the Influence
S.823 – Child passenger restraint systems
S.834 – Child development education program
S.841 – Childcare facilities
S.843 – Bullying
S.855 – Children’s Protection Registry Act
S.864 – Children’s Advocacy Medical Response System Act