Enquirer Herald

Letters - October 9, 2008

Free speech

In last week's paper, Elton Hubbard wrote, "Thank you Mr. Blackwell." I assume he was thanking me for my writings.

Well, "You are very welcome" Mr. Hubbard. Any time.

I do want him to know that I am not a Democrat or a Republican, nor am I a liberal (small 'l') or a conservative. I consider myself to be a Classic Liberal, (Capital 'L') like Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine of the 18th Century. Today's 'liberals' are mostly socialists, generally speaking.

He requested that I write about something good that Democrats and liberals have done. I will let him do that and request that he tell me exactly when he thinks that I have been wrong about politics or economics.

From his letter I get the feeling he begrudges me my right to having opinions or my right of freedom of speech.

I also wish Hillary had become the candidate. She would have been easier to beat than Obama. She's merely a Socialist while Obama is a Marxist, in my opinion.

Charles Blackwell


AYP results disturbing

Families in York and across South Carolina put their hope and faith in traditional public schools. Parents trust that public schools will provide their children with the academic foundation necessary for entrance into college or high paying jobs. Even those without school-aged children rely on public schools to produce voters and workers that will keep the State's economy productive and government effective.

But the old fashioned model of a traditional public school, the type of school most South Carolinians grew up with and feel nostalgic about, simply isn't up to the task anymore.

The latest bad news is the Federal government's Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) ratings of public school performance. In South Carolina, a shocking eighty two percent of public schools failed to meet their performance targets. Almost 900 public schools in the state were deemed "failing."

The AYP ratings come just weeks after the mixed results of the 2008 PACT test, and statewide declines in both SAT and ACT scores. Public schools have been further rocked by PACT cheating scandals, and new figures that show the state's on-time graduation rate to be an appalling 49 percent.

If ever there were any doubt, now it is crystal clear: the one-size-fits-all model of traditional public schools is failing the children of South Carolina.

Pessimists will argue we simply can't do better. They will blame the standards themselves, despite the fact that federal law has allowed for a gradual phase-in of student performance targets since 2001.

As the national standards rise to approach the intended baseline, South Carolina's stagnant public schools fall further and further behind the performance benchmarks and some politicians have already thrown their hands up, unwilling to press forward.

But children in South Carolina deserve much more than pessimism and excuses.

To provide all children the best possible instruction South Carolinians must rethink the outdated model of traditional public schools. A "public education" needs to encompass a dynamic range of classrooms, suitable to the diverse range of learning styles and ambitions of the children in this great state. This means freedom for parents to choose among all types of schooling: public, charter, magnet, independent, homeschooling and private.

Breaking free from the monolithic model of turn of the century traditional public schools is the first step in providing what all children in South Carolina deserve: equal access to effective instruction.

Randy Page


South Carolinians for Responsible Government