- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

Feb. 2

Index-Journal, Greenwood, S.C., on government guide being not for dummies:

You live in South Carolina, but what do you know about the state?

Perhaps you remember some of your early history classes and know South Carolina became the eighth state in 1788. You know the state flag sports a Palmetto tree and crescent moon that look great on tumblers, auto stickers, key chains and the like. And maybe you even know why those make up the flag.

OK, maybe you also know the state flower is the Yellow Jessamine, the state bird is the Carolina Wren, the state drink is milk and the state dance is the Shag. And you even know the dance has absolutely no connection to the British slang usage of the word.

Those bits of information and knowledge are great to have, but how familiar are you with your home state’s governmental structure? Sure, you know we have a governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer and so forth. You also know state representatives and senators gather in Columbia to enact legislation. But do you know has the upper hand in our government’s current structure? Who wields the most power? The governor or the Legislature?

We should at least have a fairly solid understanding of the government’s structure. We should be familiar with how it operates. In short, know who can do what and who does what. If nothing else, you come away knowing who to thank or who to blame, right?

The point of all this is to say the good folks at the Jim Self Center on the Future at the Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs at Clemson University recently produced a guide to the state’s legislative process. It’s clear, concise and designed for you, the residents of South Carolina.

How concise? It’s only 12 pages. How clear? Well, let’s just say it is far easier to read and comprehend than so many pieces of legislation coming out from under the dome in Columbia.

Printed copies are available at the Jim Self Center, but unless you’re just up for a good road trip you can download a copy at





Feb. 2

Island Packet, Hilton Head Island, S.C., on state needing to get serious about teaching reading:

Research shows again and again that a child’s ability to read is paramount to future success. Without mastery of this fundamental building block of learning, students are typically doomed to struggle in not only English/language arts courses, but all courses including math and science. And these same students are among those most likely to drop out of high school.

It’s why outgoing Superintendent of Education Mick Zais has, for the past three years, consistently pushed for an intense focus on literacy in our schools.

Getting all of South Carolina’s students reading on grade level by third grade would pay untold dividends for the state in terms of an educated workforce prepared for 21st century high-tech jobs, new industry attracted to the state, in part, by such a workforce and a decreased dependence on expensive state and federal safety nets such as Medicaid and subsidized housing.

So how do we start down the path of putting reading first? The S.C. Legislature will consider a requirement this session that all S.C. school districts and the state Department of Education operate summer reading camps for third-graders who are not reading at grade level. Many of the details have yet to be worked out. The budget recommendation won’t get its first House subcommittee hearing until this week, meaning the current version will likely be very different from the final version.

While we applaud state lawmakers’ attention and effort on this front, the lack of state funding may doom this valiant endeavor and serve as a roadblock for future statewide initiatives to help students read. Lack of money may mean too few teachers or teachers not properly trained. The result may be that the very students who did not get the one-on-one attention in the regular classroom will not get it in the summer camp either. Or perhaps a district will reuse a reading curriculum vs. purchasing a new, research-based one aimed at struggling readers.

To make it work, the General Assembly must direct more state dollars to, at the very least, its cash-poor districts with large percentages of students not reading on grade level.

It’s exciting that the General Assembly is talking about reading as the key to improving our state. Let’s hope these representatives don’t fumble on the details.




Feb. 3

The Herald, Rock Hill, S.C., on shortening the GOP primary season:

The Republican Party wisely will maintain South Carolina’s status as the site of the first GOP presidential primary in the South. But the move by national party leaders to shorten the 2016 selection process to prevent intraparty sniping might be a mistake.

Once again, South Carolina will join Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada in holding early primaries. South Carolina’s will be the first contest for prospective GOP candidates in the South.

For South Carolina to have maintained its status as the state that chooses the Republican nominee, Newt Gingrich would have had to have occupied the top of the ticket in 2012. That didn’t happen, and the string was broken.

But the state still is likely to have an outsized influence in helping to determine the next GOP nominee - and possibly the Democratic nominee as well. And that is good news for the state.

Although South Carolina still will be in the spotlight as the first primary in the South, other states will have to jostle for attention. Under a schedule approved last week by the Republican National Committee, 46 states and territories would vote between early March and mid-May.

The party’s national convention is expected in late June or early July, roughly two months sooner than the norm and much sooner than the Democratic convention. Republican national committeeman Steve Duprey of New Hampshire described the changes as an “effective death penalty for any state that tries to jump the calendar.”

GOP officials are candid about their motives. They want to avoid another protracted, contentious primary season like the one in 2012.

Party Chairman Reince Preibus said the changes would not permit candidates to “slice and dice” each other for six months or schedule “a circus of debates.” In 2012, GOP candidates participated in 27 debates.

It’s a gamble for the GOP to do so in 2016. Yes, candidates won’t have as long to chop each other up, and an early nominee can start raising money right away for the general election.

But primaries also help vet the candidates and bring any serious flaws to the surface. They harden candidates and give them a chance to test their messages for the grueling election ahead when they aren’t just talking to members of their own party.





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