What the Knotts endorsement is really about

On today’s page, you saw our endorsement of Jake Knotts in the runoff in the Republican nomination in Senate District 23. You also saw Cindi Scoppe’s column that was her way of thinking through, and explaining to readers, what was for the whole board a difficult decision. (And despite the little bit of fun I had about DeMint "clarifying" things, it was and is a difficult one.)

It’s worth reading, if you only get one thing out of it: This isn’t as simple as being about whether this person is for vouchers (or, worse, tax credits) or that one is against them. This is about what video poker was about — whether a group that does not have the state’s best interests at heart is allowed to intimidate the Legislature into doing its will.

It’s easy to say that, but very hard to communicate to readers. It’s hard to understand if you don’t spend as much time as I have, and as Cindi has (and she has a lot more direct experience with this than I do) observing lawmakers up close, and watching the ways they interact, and the way issues play out among them. I know it’s hard for readers to understand, because all these years later, folks still seem to have trouble understanding what the video poker issue was about for the editorial board, and why we took the position we ultimately did (to ban the industry).

I know we’ll be explaining this one for the next 10 years, and possibly longer. It’s just tough to communicate, and made tougher in this case because video poker was at least unsavory on its face. The face of this campaign funded by out-of-state extremists appears to be perfectly nice, ordinary people like Katrina Shealy and Sheri Few.

But it’s not about them. And it’s not about Jake Knotts, either. It’s certainly not about whether one or two candidates who favor (or might favor) vouchers get elected to the Legislature. By themselves, those one or two candidates can’t change the fact that spending public funds on private schools is (quite rightly) an unpopular cause. What this is about is the fact that if Jake Knotts loses, Howard Rich and company win, and that will play in the Legislature this way: Our money took Jake down. We can do the same to you. And at that point, lawmakers who don’t believe in vouchers and know their constituents don’t either can be induced to vote along with those interests anyway.

We saw it happen with video poker — until the industry was put out of business, cutting off the flow of cash that was corrupting the legislative process. We’re seeing a similar dynamic here. And that’s what this is about.

Anyway, as I mentioned, Cindi had a column about that. On Sunday, I’ll have a very different column about this endorsement. At one point in the column, I refer to one of the big differences between our editorial board and Jake Knotts — his populism. So it is that I post the video below, which features Sen. Knotts talking about that.

50 thoughts on “What the Knotts endorsement is really about

  1. john

    Knotts can’t win a three-person-race because people right here in Lexington county are tired of big spending “Republicans,” pro-amnesty “Republicans,” and any candidate supported by the editorial board at The State. It is ironic in the extreme that you are so alarmed by “out of state etremists” influencing this election, yet you totally support illegal immigrants taking our jobs, running up our health care costs, raping our citizens, driving without license or insurance, taking housing opportunities away from other low income families, etc. What this is really about is your ongoing lovefest with the general assembly, and your hatred for Sanford, DeMint, or anyone with the courage to have defined ethical positions. What threatens you and your friends is MORALITY.

  2. Lee Muller

    It is ridiculous to assert that people who offer suggestions for improving education, public and private, “don’t have the best interests of the state at heart”.
    Brad Warthen and The State have aligned themselves with the government status quo, which opposes every option for children and parents except for one – paying more money to the government status quo.

  3. USA Reader

    I must say, “The State” — and Brad must have been threatened with their very lives. It is the only logical answer for endorsing a mobster. A Redneck Mafia mobster. Period.

  4. David

    “This isn’t as simple as being about whether this person is for vouchers…or that one is against them.”
    Now this has got to be the spin of the decade. Pure and simple. Of course it’s that simple Brad!
    You and the others on the editorial board have taken a very clear position on vouchers and have tirelessly invested the time, talent and treasure of “The State” in the annihilation of anyone or any group that supports them.
    Oh yes. It’s “that simple.”
    In fact, it’s even simpler than that: Either people agree with you or you attack them and endorse their opponents and bring the assets of your newspaper to bear to destroy dissent. It’s as simple as can be.
    The only thing complicated about the whole thing is your contortionist act in trying to explain how it’s not really what everyone knows it so clearly is.

  5. Sand Hill

    Do you really think Jake has this state’s best interests at heart?
    Oh and does Jake really expect us to believe that he organized a meeting with the superintendents of the Lexington County school districts because he sniffed out the voucher backers plans and not the other way around? This is the same Jake Knotts that tried to take away the power of Lexington 1 to set its own budget. He is blowing smoke in this video.
    The State should do a little investigative reporting to find out who payed for that meal at Al’s Upstairs.

  6. David

    By the way, you assert that a loss by Knotts would intimidate other legislators into voting for something that neither they nor their constituents support.
    I swear this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Is this what you’ve been reduced to? Are you seriously arguing that we have sitting legislators that, even though they know they have the support of their constituents, are such linguine-spined, lily-livered cowards that they will vote to support whatever an “evil” external interest supposedly mandates?
    The external interest doesn’t vote, Brad. The voters in that legislators’district vote. THAT’S really the problem you have with this whole thing isn’t it? Deep down inside you just don’t trust voters to do what you want them to do. You’d love to blame this all on those evil external interests, but the voters are really who these lily-livered legislators answer to (as it should be), and you know it. And it is painfully obvious that you just hate it. They’re too unpredictable. Who’s to say they might not be swayed by external interests? My question is, so what if they are?
    There used to be a time when the voice of voters at the polls was the accepted authority on matters like public education and other civic/public interests. That time is clearly over in your mind and the others at The State.
    Pretty sad. David

  7. p.m.

    Here lies the flaw in your grandiose rationalization of how this is not just about vouchers, Mr. Warthen.
    The state abolished video poker to become the house in a gigantic shell game, the education lottery, which robs the poor to throw money at an education system which does not work and at whoever the legislature wants to have the money.
    Our best county councilman left the council to sell the lottery to businesses, just like Tommy Moore left the State House to help payday lending.
    It’s all about the money, dummy. The state took the money away from the businesses that had video poker and private lotteries and gave them back only a minute percentage of it with the so-called education lottery, which has raised SAT scores by what, one-tenth of one percent?
    And Jake Knotts is your symbolic savior.
    God help us all.

  8. Leon

    Well, you have gone and done it again. Twice, The State has endorsed Jake Knotts over an obviously superior candidate, Katrina Shealy, because of a single issue, private school vouchers, which may or may not ever come to fruition. If it does or not will depend ultimately upon the voters of South Carolina. Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be? I will never ever again let any of your endorsements sway my vote! The editorial board of The State should be ashamed of themselves.

  9. David

    I tell you what Brad, if a loss by Jake Knotts will have an intimidating effect on other legislators that “induces” (your word) them to vote along with external interests that neither they nor their constituents support, I say GREAT!
    We need such cowards in the legislature exposed, so that their constituents can dump them. Ultimately this can’t help but be good for the democratic process.
    Of course, your biggest fear is that we might just see the truth: That the constitutents you purport to be all concerned about may really favor the programs proffered by the external interests after all. My points are simply these:
    -Voters in South Carolina generally and Jake Knotts’ district in particular are increasingly dissatisfied with the public school system, and have a right to express themselves at the polls using whatever information they think is appropriate.
    -It doesn’t matter whether voters are influenced by interests from out of state or influenced by sunspots, I believe that they should be allowed to make up their minds and vote as they wish without shameless harping and influenece peddling by the State newspaper/mullet wrapper.
    -If the influences voters listen to cause them to oust Knots and that has an intimidating effect on other cowardly legislators, then I say well and good: Let those cowards be dealt with by their constituents.

  10. Bill C.

    I hope everyone is taking note of who is endorsing Jake Knotts. On Tuesday, I will not be voting for Jake Knotts and will be remembering who is calling me at dinner time, filling my mailbox with junk mail, and wasting my time with their commercials with their love of Jake Knotts. In November, I will not be voting for these people either. Any friend of Jake Knotts will not be getting my vote.

  11. Doug Ross

    I guess Brad will have to endorse Obama now because McCain has already stated his position on vouchers.
    This is from http://www.johnmccain.com:
    “John McCain will place parents and children at the center of the education process, empowering parents by greatly expanding the ability of parents to choose among schools for their children. He believes all federal financial support must be predicated on providing parents the ability to move their children, and the dollars associated with them, from failing schools.”
    So who has more power to shape the national debate on voucher’s? John McCain or Katrina Shealy?
    Gonna be a tough choice, Brad. You can have the war you want but accept the possibility of vouchers or go with Obama and take our soldiers out of Iraq and leave our kids in failing schools. Difficult decision….
    I see Knotts’ campaign signs over in Lexington have the tag line “He’s fighting for us!” My question is “who is he fighting and is he winning?”

  12. David

    Every time I see or hear one of these jokers say he’s “fighting for me” my eyes roll back into my head.
    I mean seriously.
    This cliche is SO worn out and empty. At some point could we not expect either a win? Or an admission that the enemy is just too strong? Something? Anything?
    I agree with Doug. Who exactly IS Knotts fighting? Does he have his ladder against the wrong wall? Is he choosing the wrong hill to die on? He’s been fighting for decades…can we ever expect a win? Will he actually tell us if he ever wins, or is the “fight” really just something he’s made up and needs to keep getting re-elected?
    I hope Shealy is not a “fighter.”

  13. John

    Note to Joe Wilson:
    You have had my support, and my vote for many years now. When I was 17 years old and proudly serving my country in Desert Storm, I was struck by your hand written letters, news of your family, and your general concern for my well being. I will not forget your support for the military. But, Joe, you have gotten my last vote. Whay has happened to you? Is it Roxy? Is that it? Get a hold of yourself man. The writing is on the wall.

  14. Claudia

    Judging from this dialog, it’s obvious that many are not fully educated on what and who the “outside interests” are, what they represent and the very real danger they pose for the SC legislative process. It’s bigger than the individual political races or issues; it’s literally about whether or not powerful groups can co-op government in SC and use it as a tool to achieve their own purposes. Some may shrug off the idea as absurd; to those who don’t believe that this could possibly happen in SC politics, I draw a parallel to the rise of organized crime in America. Crime lords sealed themselves from prosecution by establishing legitimate businesses and avoiding direct involvement with criminal behavior. It took decades for the FBI to bring down even a few of the major players. Today immensely powerful and profitable organized crime groups still flourish on a global level… just like Howard Rich and Company. This organization can LEGALLY target one politician and LEGALLY spend virtually any amount of money to mount an offensive against that person. In the process, they have a pool of political muckraking talent to draw to rival any US presidential campaign. And, sadly, SC voters just aren’t that hard to manipulate.
    Recognition of the power of the Howard Rich Mafia doesn’t make the targeted politician “lily-livered”. Rather, it is a forced acknowledgement that he or she is vulnerable to easy removal by the machine. The ONLY way to stop the Howard Rich Mafia is for voters to understand what’s really going on behind the face of the political races and refuse to place in office those candidates who are willing to serve as Howard Rich’s underlings. Do I like Jake Knotts? Emphatically and unequivocally NO!!! I think he is a disengaged, self-important jerk. But I’ll hold my nose and vote for him in the District 23 race rather than Katrina Shealy – a lap dog to the Howard Rich Mafia.

  15. Claudia

    Ad hominem arguments don’t speak well to your position. I suggest you educate yourself on the topic, rather than attack the individual with an opposing view. Maybe you’ll find resistance to the manipulation referenced above.

  16. David

    Claudia, I assume you meant co-opt instead of co-op, which has something to do with agriculture I think. In any case, here’s the deal:
    -I’m determined not to live my life in fear of Howard Rich or anyone else, whether they’re in state or out, and whether they’re considered ‘real’ South Carolinians or just evil outsiders by folks like you and Brad or not. I am not at all fearful that Rich will co-opt state government. First, I consider myself and other voters too intelligent for that, and second I think state government has pretty much already been “co-opted” by pro-public ed Moonies and Brown Shirts, with the assistance of people like Brad and Cindi.
    -I believe that anybody, including Howard Rich, ought to be able to present any information they please to voters in South Carolina, and that our voters are fully capable of making the correct choices. If the voters in Knottts’ district toos him out, so be it. No matter who they listened to. The seat ultimately belongs to them – not you, not Brad and not Cindi. Not even to Howard Rich.
    Again, I don’t think regular people have anything to fear from Mr. Rich. If you throw a rock at a pack of dogs, the one that yelps is the one you hit. The people who are hysterically screaming in fear of Howard Rich right now are the ones who desparately want the status quo public ed system in South Carolina to remain intact and grow. Let them live in fear. I don’t. David

  17. David

    Claudia, why are you so lathered up about the fact that Rich can target individual politicians and attempt to either support them or get them defeated according to his beliefs and principles?
    Lobbyists target politicians and attempt to sway their votes all the time. Politicians quite regularly target each other specifically and attempt to defeat them, or cajole them to behave and vote a certain way. Political parties support one candidate over another with money and advertising, and use the power of the party to keep individual party members in line and voting according to party wishes. This is what majority and minority whips in congress are all about.
    Time to man up Claudia. Politics ain’t beanbag. I personally am very glad that politicians like Jake get pressurized, made to sweat and get taken out from time to time. I wish it happened more often. I am very glad that we have a political process in which people can make their opinions known and their power felt. It isn’t all just about Rich…Voters got power too. I embrace all political expressions. By people like you and me, and by people like Rich. David

  18. David

    Caudia!!! WAIT A MINUTE!!!
    Talk about a GLARING omission…I was on a roll talking about groups and organizations that routinely use their influence and power in politics and against politicians and I forgot to mention THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE!
    THE PRESS!!!
    This is essentially what The State newspaper is all about. Brad and Cindi and all the rest are ALWAYS endorsing one politician over another. They CONSTANTLY editorialize and pontificate and bloviate about why voters should support one politician and hate another.
    So, deal with it Claudia. It’s the way things are. See, the dirty little secret is that I don’t think you really have a problem when The State uses it huge resources to endorse a politician that YOU happen to like…or editorialize in favor of a policy or government action YOU favor. You just hate it when someone powerful does everything in its’ power AGAINST your pet politicians and policies.
    I say good for the goose…good for the gander. David

  19. Claudia

    As I live in District 23, the seat does belong to me, along with the rest of the people in this district. “Hysterically screaming”? Hmmm… maybe if I “man up” I’ll understand that “politics ain’t beanbag” and won’t “live in fear”.
    A difference in opinion is simply that – a difference in opinion. Any attacks on my character or intelligence are useless circumgyration and an empty addition to the thread. If you can’t engage in civilized discourse, fellas, I don’t want to play. Go bully someone else.

  20. David

    I wasn’t actually attacking your character. I thought I was stating my beliefs with gusto.
    Whether we agree or not, and whether I was animated or not, I think I pretty accurately described the way politics work. Seems to me that people generally don’t like the way politics work only when they see their causes not benefitting from the way politics work.
    I didn’t mean to “beat up on the girl.”
    I’m just sayin.

  21. Jim

    Brad’s obsessive fixation with school choice has him ignoring the fact that lots of other interests want Jake out as well.
    Like those who want restructuring to make government more efficient and effective, who want better DUI laws to make our roads safer, who want tort and workman’s comp reform so we can bring in more jobs, and want honest government rather than the good ole boy system of paying Jake to buy his vote or his grease for the system.
    Brad, did you ever stop to think that a win by Katrina may make legislators fear that being a dishonest, crooked, bully will finally get them thrown out of office?
    I know you and Cindi only want honest legislators if they are against school choice. However, for most of us, honesty and integrity are more important qualities than their position on one single fringe education issue.
    It is a pathetic state of affairs that people in your position can’t say the same thing.

  22. John

    I guess I should have gone into more detail about my beef with you (sorry if “beef” offends you). You see “Claudia,” I’d believe in the sincerity of your argument if I thought you were someone other than CLAUDIA BRUNSON SMITH, longtime writer for The State newspaper. Or is that just a Ko ink a dink?

  23. John

    By the way C.B.S.,
    I guess you are correct. My position as a PRIVATE SCHOOL TEACHER clearly indicates that I have no knowledge of the voucher issue. The 35 years I’ve spent as a resident of Lexington county have not afforded me an understanding of local issues, and my undergraduate degree in Poli Sci from USC would indicate a complete lack of substance in comprehending the political spectrum in general. It is a shame I never worked for The State newspaper, for then I would trully be a seer.

  24. Donald

    One little tidbit that is missing from this debate over Knotts/Shealy as it relates to the anti-public school issue…
    Jake was a primary sponsor of S. 457 in 2007. That was a bill to establish tax credits for folks who sent their children to private schools or home schooled them.
    That means Jake has actually supported legislation that is (according to The State, at least) anti-public schools.
    Yet, Katrina Shealy is punished for the mere perception of being anti-public schools.

  25. JimT

    I don’t care how many college degrees a person has or how bravely one can speak about living fearlessly, I have yet to hear anybody explain how taking money out of the already limited public education funds and giving it to schools that have no requirements for accountability or performance is a good thing.

  26. David

    The thing I’m fearless about is that I believe Howard Rich should be able to exert as much energy and devote as much of his personal/professional wealth to influencing Sout Carolina politicians and getting his views before the voters in South Carolina as does The State newspaper. That’s all I’m saying.
    The State newspaper, under the direction of Brad and others, pretty much continuously lambasts, defames and smears any politician they don’t like and that doesn’t goose-step to the public education marching music. The State publishes seven editions a week with special sections whenever necessary to intimidate, frighten and scold South Carolina voters into voting as Brad and Cindi wish.
    And then Brad and the other girls pule like six year olds when Mr. Rich or any other supposedly “evil” external interest attempts to present voters with opposing opinions.
    Jim, no matter what your opinion of me is, I say be fearless and at least let people, whoever they might be, get countervailing ideas in front of voters as regularly and forcefully as does The State newspaper.
    Can you not at least countenance the idea that Brad just HATES that his monopoly on the flow of ideas about public education might be threatened by Mr. Rich and others like him? Can you not admit that at least a small part of the reason Brad so dislikes Mr. Rich could be that he sees Howard Rich as a threat to the fiefdom The State has built and enjoyed?
    This seems pretty clear to me. But then, I’m fearless. Again, I’m just sayin. David

  27. David

    And I don’t HAVE to explain to you or anyone else how vouchers work Jim.
    That’s not my job. I know what we have now isn’t working, and I know that vouchers have worked elsewhere when they’ve been legitimately tried. Parents of kids lost in failing schools over-run these program because they see them as a ray of hope out of the trap their kids are forced to stay in.
    Explaining how vouchers work has been done over and over by people whose job it is to explain them…and people like you don’t want to hear it. If you really cared about it, you could go find out how they work. You were smart enough to navigate your computer here and blog…so you simply aren’t being honest: It’s not that no one has spoon fed you like you’re some kind of baby with the information you need about vouchers…it’s that this is an easy and flimsy excuse you use to reject something that your mind is already closed about.
    Good night.

  28. JimT

    Nice try, but no dice. I’ve read the propaganda. Like I said, nobody has explained how in South Carolina you can take money out of the public education fund and give it to unaccountable schools and hope to improve education for ALL children.

  29. John

    Yeah, Jim-
    That public ed thing has been working great so far. We are the laughing stock of the nation, and most of the developed world. Companies would rather locate in Alabama than force their kids to go to school here.

  30. JimT

    So we need to fix the schools. Taking money out of the public school system and giving it to unaccountable private schools just doesn’t seem like the solution to me.
    Maybe it’s just because I’m old enough to remember the many private schools that popped up during the 1960’s as a result of desegregation. Their only purpose for existing was to keep white kids in white schools. I had a friend who attended one of those schools and it was nothing but a glorified Sunday school.
    There will always be some kids for whom public education will be their only real choice. It isn’t fair to those children to take away the very limited pubic funds from their schools. If vouchers could be paid with from a separate fund paid by a separate tax without decreasing public education funds I might be in favor of it. But this is South Carolina — they won’t raise taxes here, unless of course, it is offset by another tax cut.
    Until our representatives understand that the phrase “quality of life” refers to more than sandy beaches and warm weather, there isn’t much hope for this state. Education, be it public or private, is going to cost money, and now because we are so far behind the curve, it is going to cost a lot of money. But don’t expect it to happen with the current legislature or governor.

  31. David

    Public ed already GETS a lot of money Jim. It has gotten a lot for a long long time, and now its’ apologists are making a play for much more.
    Be honest with yourself about what we have to show for our investment thus far in this turkey: It is a failed money pit that needs to br forced to compete for its’ funds with other education providers. Private education providers.

  32. JimT

    Okay, let’s be honest about how much money has been invested in education in Allendale or Dillon. NOT VERY MUCH.
    I am the first to agree that public education is broken in South Carolina. I just don’t believe putting money into unregulated private schools is the answer. South Carolina could fix the financial problem with their schools in a minute if they had the courage to do so. It simply requires a change in the way money is raised and redistributed. As long as the revenue base for schools is based on the property taxes within a given school district it is doomed to fail. That’s great if you’ve got BMW or Bose in your school district, but it sucks if you’ve only got a few vegetable farmers. Money should be collected at and distributed at the state level.

  33. K-Street

    It’s NEVER about vouchers — even for Howard Rich’s candidates this cycle. Just look at Katrina Shealy’s mail and TV ads. See anything about vouchers? No. Why? Because she can’t win on that issue alone…the same issue on which she was recruited to run. In another time and place, we had a word for this: A Trojan horse.
    Katrina Shealy is a voucher-lobby recruit whose campaign was funded expressly by voucher-lobby money and supported by voucher-lobby interest groups (SCRG, S.C. Club For Growth) and her consulting is being done by Starboard Communications, a firm dedicated to recruiting and running voucher-lobby candidates who, during their campaigns, can’t even talk about, well, vouchers.
    So when Brad Warthen and The State say “It’s not about vouchers” for them, and you all yell YES IT IS, why don’t you apply that same standard to the voucher puppets they are not endorsing?

  34. Lee Muller

    LIE: “unaccountable private schools”
    FACT: unaccountable public schools
    Private schools, like any business, are accountable to their customers.
    Public bureaucrats are accountable to politicians who hand out the money. They don’t have to please children who are forced by law enforcement to climb into a government bus and go to school.

  35. David

    Right on, Lee.
    Private schools have the highest from of accoutability: They answer directly to customers who choose whether or not to spend the money with them. And these people make that decision based upon whether that school is supplying what the customer wants.
    This is EXACTLY the kind of accountability that public schools do NOT have, and that they so desparately need.

  36. John

    I think you guys are missing Jim’s point. See, Jim isn’t interested in the concept of equal opportunity, and certainly not private enterprise, he’s interested in equality. I can almost guarantee that he keeps a copy of Das Kapital on his nightstand.
    In the words of Thoreau, “Government has never served man but by the alacrity with which it got out of his way.” Jim, can you name something that government does better, or more efficiently than private business?

  37. JimT

    So what, is it trendy to be against equality nowadays? Ad hominem arguments aside, the point seems to remain unchallenged that you can’t take money out of public schools and make it better.
    Some have said it is about competition, but competition assumes the ability to choose. K-Mart and Walmart can compete for my money because I can freely choose between them. But for some families, and I dare say most, public education will always be the only practical choice. For all the negative things people say about it, public education is fully tuition paid, and that fact alone keeps many children in its purview.
    Some of you are trying to say public education can’t work. It is working in many, if not most places in this country. There are many reasons why education fails in some places in this state and it has nothing to do with public or private schools. Until parents get involved with their children’s future no amount of vouchers or tax credits is going to make much difference. Private schools are not the panacea some of you seem to think they are.
    And as to the point about private schools being unaccountable, as a tax-payer I am the customer. I cannot approve or disapprove of the private school choice or of its performance. I think some are being naive to think academic excellence will be every parent’s highest priority when they hear government is handing out free money.
    The whole idea sounds like little more than education welfare to me. Some of you have a lot more faith in parents than I do. Having been a foster parent I have seen people who will do anything to get a free dollar from government, and whether it gets spent on its intended purpose is anybody’s guess.

  38. Doug Ross

    The objective is not to make public schools work, it is to make sure that the public’s children get educated in the most effective way possible.
    You want the schools to be fixed despite decades of evidence that more money doesn’t fix the problem. Voucher supporters want individual children to have the best opportunity to become educated regardless of the mechanism.
    The response to your supposed unchallenged assertion that taking money out of public schools will make them worse is to ask you to provide evidence that putting more in will make them better.

  39. Lee Muller

    If the government ran hamburger stands, would you eat there?
    The food would cost twice as much as private fast food chains, taste bad, and often contain bacteria that made you sick.
    The only way the government food joints could get customers would be tax the private restaurants, give out free vouchers, and round up people at gunpoint, load them onto busses and carry them to the GovCo Drive-In.

  40. JimT

    It’s an “unchallenged assertion” that taking money out of public schools will make them worse?? It’s a foregone conclusion. And if you think I’m crazy to think that putting more money into schools won’t help, tell that to the people of Blythewood who spent $45 million to build ONE high school. They clearly think spending more money is a good investment.
    Spending money isn’t the only solution — I’ve said that already several times. The only evidence I’ve seen where vouchers have worked has been where a separate tax was raised to pay for them. And that simply is not going to happen here. For me it’s a question of fairness to the children who get left behind.
    That’s really all I have to say on the subject.

  41. Lee Muller

    The residents of Blythewood didn’t pay for Blythewood High School. The could have, by having the developers build it and add the cost into the price of the new houses. Instead, existing homes in the entire county were taxed to subidize the development of Blythewood.
    Even then, District 2 didn’t pay cash for the school, because they had so much existing debt. They borrowed the money and put the taxpayers on the hook for 20 years to make bankers rich.
    The cumulative interest paid each year on school bonds is enough to build lots of new schools and pay cash for them. Instead, it is piped up to Wall Street as tax-free income to millionaires.

  42. Lee Muller

    If vouchers don’t work, why don’t we abolish them:
    * Life Scholarship vouchers for college.
    * Pell Grant vouchers for college
    * Food Stamp and WIC vouchers
    * Public housing vouchers.
    * Medicare vouchers

  43. John

    If only we threw more money at the problem…this is the same lame argument liberals always serve up. How much money was in public education thousands of years ago, when the Greeks were asking the questions and providing some of the anwers that guide us even today? How much does a chalkboard and eraser cost? Classic education has been replaced with all sorts of experiments directed by broader and broader entities. Administrators consume a lion’s share of the education budget, and in almost every case, the numbers grow each year. The problem isn’t money, Jim. Money doesn’t teach. Money doesn’t parent. You worry about your kids, and I’ll worry about mine. Equal opportunity is a beautiful thing. It is what makes this country great. Imposed equality will be our ruin. Of course equality is bad. Take away competition and incentive, what have we got? Evolution doesn’t stop half way through the race to make sure the disinterested catch up. We need to give everyone the same starting point, the same oppurtunity, and then reward those who run the race.

  44. Doug Ross

    I have two kids attending Blythewood H.S. right now. Nobody asked me how much I would pay for the new high school — if they had, I would have said to make everyone (including me) pay an impact fee on new construction to pay for it.
    Every bond referendum is sold as “for the children” and with the phony “it only adds $20 to the tax bill of a $100K house”. Guess what? it’s $20 a year for decades… and if you can find me the $100K houses in Northeast Richland County, I’d love to see them.
    And guess what else? The new high school is already beyond capacity (portables in place already after two years) because there isn’t anyone in power in this area who cares one bit about quality of life. It’s all about building more homes. Nobody cares about traffic, sprawl, crime, etc. until it’s way too late. And now we’ve got a housing slump that has left hundreds of acres of land stripped bare for the developments that won’t be built.
    And what else? The new Blythewood H.S. may look beautiful but where do you find all the excellent teachers to staff it? That’s another part the brain trust doesn’t understand. Bricks and mortar don’t add a bit to the educational process. Richland County District 2 is now going OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES to recruit math and science teachers. Teachers who may or may not speak English very well. Is this the type of public education our kids deserve?

  45. John

    I applaud you for being a foster parent. The foster parent sytem has many flaws, but you are, apparently, not one of them. I still say you are WRONG though.

  46. John

    Liberty and equality are not synonymous. Think about it, Jim. Then tell me what this country was founded on, and what made it great, before the imposition of equality began to mark our downward spiral. Let people have the freedom to be successful; there WILL BE winners and losers- it beats the heck out of everyone being mediocre.

  47. Lee Muller

    The original Blythewood High School was built by the WPA under FDR. The elementary part was added in the early 1950s, under Fritz Hollings building program, which built new schools for all the blacks in the state and new shop class facilities for every high school, paid for with cash by a 1 cent sales tax.
    The old wooden 2-room buildings with wood heat were used until 1962. Blythewood used old textbooks recycled from AC Flora and Dreher.
    From 1964 to 1973, Blythewood High placed a graduate in an Ivy League college on full scholarship. Up the road, Ridgeway High was closed and consolidated with Winnsboro High, but produced an astronaut and several Fortune 100 CEOs.
    All without extravagant money spent like today.

  48. John

    *@#%in’ A! Nice work Lee. Thanks for adding some substance to my rant, as you so often do. That was beautiful.
    The soju has got me (in Seoul), sorry for my language.

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