- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

Feb. 10

The State, Columbia, S.C., on not stealing students’ class time just because it snowed:

Senate President Pro Tem John Courson says he “cannot imagine anyone in the South Carolina Senate being opposed to” legislation the House passed last week forgiving up to five snow days this year.

With all due respect to Mr. Courson, we can’t imagine the chairman of the Senate Education Committee - that’s his other job - not opposing legislation that reduces the amount of teaching time students receive by nearly 3 percent.

We don’t mean to pick on Mr. Courson - whom we suspect is accurately representing the will of the Senate.

It’s the whole Legislature that has this one wrong.

And not just the Legislature. Some school boards are demanding it. And you can bet that parents would too - making up those days might interfere with their vacation plans, after all - if they didn’t take for granted that the Legislature would do this, as it always does.

In 2006, legislators looked like they finally were going to take their 180-school-day mandate seriously, passing a law that required districts to build at least three snow days into their calendars. But they also allowed themselves to “waive the requirements of making up missed days.” And that’s what county legislative delegations routinely do, not just after the districts use up all their make-up days but, as in this case, before they use even the first of them.

Granted, there’s nothing sacrosanct about a 180-day school year. What’s sacrosanct - what our state has a constitutional obligation to do - is providing students with the instruction they need to learn those things we have determined they need to learn each year.

Indeed, there is nothing about this legislation that suggests that anyone cares a tittle about educating our children. To the contrary, it seems to treat school as a chore, a punishment.

We expect that attitude from students. But our legislators - and the school board members and parents who are cheering them on - are supposed to be grown-ups. They’re supposed to see a good education as an opportunity, an entitlement, a right for students.




Feb. 9

Times & Democrat, Orangeburg, S.C., on SCSU surviving in 1968 and doing the same in 2014:

South Carolina State and Orangeburg paused Saturday to remember their places in civil rights history. While the events of 46 years ago may be but chapters in books to generations that have come and gone from the university and the community, commemorating the tragedy of 1968 and the deaths of three students at the hands of state troopers is vital.

Remembering the deaths of Henry Smith, Samuel Hammond Jr. and Delano Middleton, who were killed in the wake of days of protests over desegregation, is important because of the civil rights lessons still being learned - from the way things once were to the way they can be. Orangeburg and S.C. State have pledged to unite each year in a healing process that is unlike the animosity and dispute that surrounded the Feb. 8, 1968, anniversary for so many years.

While the tragedy known as the “Orangeburg Massacre” today is a signature event in the history of the university, it is important in February 2014 that the university be recognized for the important role it has played as a land-grant, public historically black college. The same spirit of preserving and defending the institution that was stirred mightily in 1968 is needed today. S.C. State is in crisis.

Less than two months into the new year, an institution that was looking to put behind troubles from public corruption to turmoil in governance and administration is on the front burner of controversy again.

Trustee Bob Waldrep said Wednesday that the “fiscal chaos” is probably the greatest crisis the university has ever faced.

No, it is not. The days, weeks and months after the tragedy of 1968 were unimaginably darker as the institution, the community and the state decided how to move forward.

Just as leadership stood up then, leaders must stand up now.

South Carolina State University has endured much over its 118-year history. As it remembers one of its saddest chapters this weekend, it looks ahead to difficult times again. But it can and will survive. It must.




Feb. 8

The Herald, Rock Hill, S.C., on hope for immigration reform dashed:

It’s disappointing that efforts by U.S. House Republican leaders to at least join the bargaining process for immigration reform appear to have been thwarted.

The leadership emerged from a party caucus retreat in Cambridge, Md., less than two weeks ago with a list of “standards” for a possible immigration reform plan. While the list of principles diverged from the bipartisan bill passed last year in the Senate - which, significantly, included a path to citizenship for the roughly 11 million immigrants who are here illegally - it appeared to provide a path to compromise.

The plan would beef up border security and interior enforcement of immigration laws; require employment verification for all employees; update the legal immigration system to encourage more high-skilled immigrants; provide an opportunity for citizenship for young children brought here by their parents; and establish an entry-exit system to track those who enter the U.S. Perhaps most significantly, the plan calls for establishing legal status for immigrants here illegally who are willing to step forward, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, learn English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families with no access to public benefits.

Criminal aliens, gang members and sex offenders would not be eligible. And the program wouldn’t begin until specific “enforcement triggers” have been implemented.

But House Speaker John Boehner and other House members who signed off on the principles met strong opposition from fellow Republicans. The New York Times reported that tea party activists shifted their focus from cutting the federal budget deficit to killing what they saw as amnesty for illegal immigrants. Conservative groups called for a clean sweep of the Republican leadership, according to the Times.

Under that backlash, Boehner said Thursday it’s unlikely he could pass the proposed immigration reform. He blamed widespread distrust of the Obama administration, saying Republicans don’t trust Obama to enforce the immigration laws passed by Congress.

So the flicker of hope for immigration reform apparently was snuffed. That’s alarming because the nation’s immigration laws desperately need reform. The status quo isn’t working.



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