This editorial is in reply to the Letter to the Editor as it appeared in the December 19, 2018, edition of The News.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. Let me begin by asking: How many years now have our schools received an Unsatisfactory grade? How many Superintendents have come and gone? What are the SAT scores of our students? Do these scores reflect the need for change? What is the reading level of graduates? What percentage graduate and what percentage are simply escorted to the door and handed a diploma?
Let’s review some history to ensure we are all on the same page. The Department of Education was the brain child of President Jimmy Carter. Once emplaced it rapidly became a political functionary of the left. Four thousand activists, radicals and die hard Progresses took control and we witnessed a unionization of our education system and a continuing decline in performance.
Before the formation of the Department of Education our nation was ranked first in the parameters utilized to measure success; reading comprehension, math and science. Today our nation ranks 26th in reading comprehension, 19th in math and 24th in science.
The newly formed Department of Education immediately began changing policies which were long held and proven measurements of the performance of our students. Suddenly, we were told our approach to education was wrong, hurtful and discriminatory. This departure from fundamental proven techniques have resulted in an erosion of education in this country. Students must be required to meet standards, not given a pass for some obscure reason. Excuses do not prepare a young adult for the real world.
In reference to Williamsburg County, Mr. Darby stated “more industry is needed in the county so that ample tax dollars can be allocated to the school district to improve student achievement as well as facilities.” Our nation spends three times more than any other yet our rankings continue to plummet. For example, the country of Sweden spends ten times less per student than the United States and upon graduation the Swedish student speak fluent English and one additional language. Our students graduate and cannot annotate simple sentence structure.
In his fourth paragraph, Mr. Darby states “living in poverty is not an excuse.” Poverty is the very reason a majority of students perform poorly. Poverty is brutal, uncompromising and the very reason an education must be the focal point of parents. One should not assume money is the answer to the ills of our problems. Progressives have removed the tools necessary to ensure success, discipline, accountability and individual responsibility from our education system and replaced these with political nonsense.
Recently a student in Charleston assaulted a teacher physically and verbally using profanity. The student was simply transferred to another class, nothing else. Once a student learns there are no consequences for their actions, turmoil and chaos rule the classroom. The school board should have intervened, had the student and parents appear before the board and admonished them all for the incident and warned the next outburst would result in criminal prosecution.
As for more industry in our county, the correlation of a failing education system and new industry is a non-starter. One of the first items an industry considers is the public school system. What does our school system tell industry? Corporate managers will not ask their personnel to submit and move to an area with a failing school system, end of message.
In paragraph five of your letter you stated: “simply put, the deficiencies that exist with this public school district are longstanding and have been inadequately addressed for many years prior to the 2014-2015 school term.” Does this mean the school board failed to comprehend the deficiencies thus failed to act or does this imply an unwillingness to act? The very next sentence in your letter infers undue management by the state: “have fallen prey to the hands of the State Department of Education’s intervention.” Are you saying the school board we not informed by the state of existing deficiencies and the state would intervene if these problems continued?
Each year the schools of our state receive a “report card” and it is published in The News. Supplication of facts and outcries of outrage cannot/will not alleviate the problems faced by our schools, only innovation, forward thinking and a dedication to purpose will see our students eventually achieve what is best for each and every one.
The News is the watchdog for the county. A purpose driven reporter is not your enemy but a responsible and necessary purveyor of fact. Identifying the weaknesses of the school board is not only right, but is demanded by the taxpayers.