Palmetto Opinion

Editorials from around South Carolina: student test scores, Port of Charleston, deadly highways

Student testing

Only one in five South Carolina fourth graders and one in four eighth graders scored “ready or exceeding” on the ACT Aspire writing exam. Math and reading scores are similarly dismal.

But there is a silver lining. However disappointing the numbers, the 2015 test results offer a realistic picture of student performance in South Carolina and a baseline to measure future improvement.

That hasn’t been the case for years.

From 2009 to 2014, students in South Carolina took the SCPASS exam. About three-quarters of students in fourth and eighth grade scored passing or proficient in reading, writing and math in 2014, and scores generally improved each year since PASS testing began.

It sounded too good to be true — and it was.

The apparent gains on scores between 2009 and 2014 reflect less on student achievement than on the shocking extent to which South Carolina lowered the bar on student performance. …

(T)he state is to be commended for restoring standards sufficiently rigorous to prepare students for the challenges of high school, college and a career. …

It’s no secret that South Carolina’s public schools system needs a lot of work in order to ensure that every student has access to a top quality education. The only way to get there is to be honest about where we are now.

Post & Courier


Port of Charleston

A study completed by Joseph Von Nessen, a research economist in the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, showed that the South Carolina Ports Authority generates $53 billion in economic activity throughout the state on an annual basis. The port is a key economic driver for the state, and it directly or indirectly accounts for one out of every 11 jobs in South Carolina.

The $53 billion in annual economic activity represents almost 10 percent of South Carolina’s total gross state product, according to the study that was released in part in September. In addition to the jobs the port helps support and the economic output it helps sustain, port operations produce more than $912 million in tax revenue annually for the state, the study found. …

Several years ago it was disturbing to see at least a few national and state legislators seemingly fail to understand the importance of the Port of Charleston to the state’s economy. Fortunately those lawmakers now appear to grasp how connected the port is to the state’s economic livelihood and they are more conspicuously supportive of deepening the port. The study that has been released in parts by the Ports Authority makes it clear that our state’s economy would suffer terribly and many people would lose their jobs if the Port of Charleston lost its ability to compete in the shipping business.

Greenville News

Deadly highways

To date, the flooding death toll shows 12 people drowning and seven others dying in weather-related vehicle accidents.

But that’s only the beginning of a tragic story about which South Carolinians should be aware.

While 19 people died in the flooding, the very next weekend, Oct. 9-11, 16 people were killed on the roads and highways of the state — SIXTEEN.

And then a weekend later, six more deaths.

Flooding was devastating and dangerous, but the roads are even more deadly. …

The October weekends have brought South Carolina’s traffic death toll for 2015 to 736 people killed, a 14 percent increase over the 645 deaths at this time a year ago.

Through midnight Oct. 18, 84 pedestrians have died compared to 79 in 2014; 110 motorcyclists have died compared to 78 in 2014; and 13 bicyclists have died compared to 13 in 2014.

Of the 488 motor vehicle occupants who have died in 2015, 247 were not wearing seat belts. Based on the best statistics, about half of the 247 would be alive today had they been buckled up.

The month has indeed been a tragic one, but, sadly, it does not take unprecedented rainfall to make nearly every weekend tragic in the state. The danger on the roads is very real.

Times & Democrat