- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

April 3

The Post and Courier on safety during the age of ride-sharing:

One of the first things we teach our children is to never, ever get into a stranger’s car.

In the age of Uber and Lyft, we all need to relearn that lesson. Along with: The later you’re out at night, the greater your chances of running into the wrong person. And: It’s always safer to travel in groups.



Nothing can ever mitigate the heartbreaking tragedy of the killing of University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson, who was abducted and slain after she got into what she mistakenly thought was an Uber ride-share she had ordered. But maybe it can be some small comfort to her family if her death leads more young people to follow the advice of Ms. Josephson’s father, Seymour Josephson, who urged students to stay in groups at night and called on ride-sharing services to do more to make sure passengers get into the right cars.

It’s never been safe to be out in bar districts in the wee hours of the morning, and certainly not to leave your friends and strike out on your own. But the ubiquity of ride-sharing services - which many of us inexplicably consider safer than the more heavily regulated and more easily identifiable taxi services - has caused many people to let down their guard. Not only do we wander out alone, sometimes after consuming too much alcohol to drive safely, but we don’t follow basic safety precautions when we think we spot our ride.

Gregory Yee and Andy Shain of The Post and Courier talked to a former bar owner who recounted three instances of young women trying to get into his car on a recent night when he was serving as designated driver for a group of friends in Columbia’s Five Points, the bar district from which Ms. Josephson was abducted. Indeed, Mr. Josephson said that his daughter had tried to hop into another vehicle she thought was her ride before she got into the car that drove her to her death.

While lawmakers, regulators and the ride-share services consider what additional measures are needed, there are several precautions everyone who uses the services can and should take to protect their own safety. On Monday, the state’s Office of Regulatory Staff offered these tips:

- Make sure the vehicle displays the ride-sharing company’s symbol in the front passenger side windshield.

- Check the make, model and license plate number against the information provided by the ride-sharing service.

- Ask the driver’s name to make sure it matches the name provided to you.

- Quiz the driver to make sure he or she knows where you’re going.

When you book a ride, send a friend a screenshot of the app that includes the driver’s name, make and model, and let the friend know when you arrive safely at your destination.

Perhaps most importantly, if you don’t feel safe, walk away. Don’t worry about being charged for canceling a ride; ride-sharing services usually will refund the money if you don’t feel safe. And even if they don’t, the money isn’t worth your life. How much do you think Samantha Josephson’s family would give for her to have never gotten into that car?

Online: https://www.postandcourier.com

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April 3

The Index-Journal on makeup days for public schools:

Good points and good questions from our lawmakers in Columbia.

School districts that want to waive makeup days because of the disruption Hurricane Florence brought to the schools’ calendars are making some lawmakers question the need for a 180-day school year. And that’s from both sides of the aisle.

Edgefield Republican state Sen. Shane Massey laid it out rather succinctly: “If they can forgive three weeks of school and still get all the education that they need, then we don’t need to have a 180-day calendar.” Democrat Brad Hutto, of Orangeburg, chimed in: “If these students don’t need that many days in school, then we are spending a lot of extra money on education that we could channel somewhere else.”

Public school officials are, understandably, frustrated with Columbia when it comes to funding. They can get in line with municipalities who are decrying the lack of local funding that has long been promised. But they do send a mixed message when they try to opt out of doing their part to ensure a full year of classroom learning.

Sure, makeup days can create some havoc, but so do the storms that cause the need for makeup days. If you noticed, when bad weather struck during the football season games were moved, not forgiven. Is classroom time not as important? More important? We would like to believe that it is.

As bad as things were as a result of Hurricane Florence, this was not a cataclysmic disaster. Disaster struck some harder than others. Then came cleanup time. Then came the opportunity to return to as normal a life as feasible. Now comes a time to sacrifice and ensure our state’s children are getting what the taxpayers have paid for. Take the allotted days that can be forgiven and take care of the rest.

Minimally adequate? Largely, we are not even there in this state. So to shortchange many students a full year’s education is less than adequate.

Online: http://www.indexjournal.com

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March 31

The Spartanburg Herald-Journal on impacting children’s lives:

Having a positive influence on a child can be life-changing. For three decades, the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Upstate has been doing just that - and doing it well.

This year, the Upstate organization is celebrating 30 years of service to our community. And the anniversary comes with some extra luster: In January, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America notified the organization that it had placed in the top 5 percent among 797 organizations participating in the national organization’s National Youth Outcomes Initiative.

It’s a reflection of just how much impact the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Upstate is having on its young people.

The Upstate organization operates clubs at 11 sites, 10 of which are in schools, with eight sites in Spartanburg County and three in Cherokee County. During the school year, a total of 1,100 children take part in its after-school activities each day until 6 p.m., and 700 youths participate in its daily summer programs. Each day, students receive a hot meal before heading home.

The impact is far-reaching, as the organization’s President Greg Tolbert and board chairman (and Spartanburg police chief) Alonzo Thompson shared recently with the Herald-Journal’s editorial board. They pointed out that each day a child participates, a parent or caregiver is freed up to be able to work. Each day of participation, it’s an opportunity to have an impact on a child who might otherwise be susceptible to negative outside influences, or even abuse. And each day, for many participants, it’s their only opportunity for a hot meal for dinner.

But don’t mistake this for day care. The organization’s itinerary is much more than that. There’s Project Learn, an education platform that it implemented in partnership with schools, parents and other community partners. There are activities that focus on character and leadership, health and life skills, the arts, and sports, fitness and recreation.

And through its Empowerment Evaluation initiative, begun in 1998, the organization has learned how best to plan, partner and implement programs specifically targeting significant community problems, which are ever-changing. Twenty years ago, those problems included high dropout rates, juvenile crime and teen pregnancy, all of which have seen dramatic improvement in our community. Today, the focus on critical issues includes obesity, college-going academic trajectory and workforce readiness.

“We’re part of the village that raises the children,” Chief Thompson said. “They learn that there’s something better. They learn that they can go places.”

To support all of this, there are grants, donations, modest participation fees for those who can afford them and alternative means of contributing for those who cannot. The organization wants to expand and do more, but its reach is dependent on its resources.

This is where you can make an impact. Consider a donation, financially or as a volunteer - or both. The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Upstate is helping to change lives. You can help change them as well. For more information, go to www.begreatupstate.org .

Online: https://www.goupstate.com

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