Search Results for: endorsement

The Weekly Rewind – March 8th

rewind-t3951k

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3759, the “SOUTH CAROLINA EDUCATION, CAREER OPPORTUNITY, AND ACCESS FOR ALL ACT”. The legislation makes comprehensive revisions that are offered as a means of ensuring that the state’s public school students receive the training needed to meet 21st century demands. New emphasis is placed on mathematics and technology that includes a requirement for each public high school in the state to offer at least one rigorous, standards based computer science course. Enhancements are made to the SC Read to Succeed Initiative that focuses on crucial literacy skills. Provisions are made to afford public school students a smoother transition into higher education and workforce opportunities. These include expanded dual enrollment programs and improved access to state scholarship funding to cover training costs. The legislation raises the minimum teacher salary statewide and offers an array of incentives geared towards attracting individuals to teaching and retaining those professionals in the classroom. Some of the incentives focus on encouraging teachers to pursue their careers in schools that are failing to meet goals for academic performance and in areas of the state that are experiencing the greatest economic distress. Enhanced accountability provisions are included to direct assistance to schools that are struggling academically and to transform or close chronically underperforming schools. A school district consolidation protocol is established for merging less populous districts that are failing to meet standards for student performance. Local school board members are subjected to ethics provisions. A Special Council on Revitalizing Education is created to advise policy makers on ways to improve collaboration among state agencies and institutions and what steps should be taken to ensure that the state’s public education system is emphasizing skills demanded in the workplace.

Goals and Governance

The State of South Carolina establishes an overall statewide workforce readiness goal of at least sixty percent of all working age South Carolinians having a post secondary degree or recognized industry credentials before the year 2030. This goal is consistent with all students graduating and having the knowledge, skills, and characteristics contained in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate.

A “Student Bill of Rights” is established to enumerate basic expectations including: students should expect that the General Assembly, Governor, State Superintendent of Education, State Board of Education, local school boards, local superintendents, principals, teachers, and parents to focus on improving education, and creating a system that puts them first; students should feel safe and secure in school; students should have educational choice; and the ability to challenge unfair treatment. These provisions do not create or imply a private cause of action for a violation.

A “Teacher Bill of Rights” is established to enumerate those things that all certified public school teachers in South Carolina should be able to expect. These include: working in an environment conducive to learning; the inclusion of their discretion with regard to disciplinary and instructional decisions; freedom from frivolous lawsuits, planning time; a competitive salary; no unnecessary paperwork; support from school administration. These provisions do not create or imply a private cause of action for a violation.

Provisions are made for the South Carolina Teacher of the Year and a public school student appointed by the Governor to serve as non-voting advisory members of the State Board of Education.

Special Council on Revitalizing Education

The legislation establishes within the Office of the Governor the Special Council on Revitalizing Education (SCORE) which is created to: (1) monitor the state education and workforce pipeline to continually determine the education and training levels required by the state’s employers; (2) identify and recommend improvements regarding efficiency and cooperation of agencies and programs throughout the education and workforce pipeline; and (3) report findings and recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly on a continuous basis.

The Governor serves as the chairman of the ten-member council. The Governor may, however, delegate the position of chairman and SCORE duties to the Lieutenant Governor. The other council members are appointed to five-year terms, with SCORE being composed of: (a) three members appointed by the Governor; (b) one member appointed by the Speaker of the House; (c) one member appointed by the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; (d) one member appointed by the Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee; (e) one member appointed by the President of the Senate; (f) one member appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee; and (g) one member appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Council members may not concurrently serve as a member of the General Assembly. Appointed members must have a background in early childhood education, K 12 education, higher education, business, workforce development, or economic development. Two council members, one from the appointees allotted the House of Representatives and the other from the appointees allotted the Senate, must be current or retired highly effective teachers. A member of the council may serve no more than two consecutive terms.

The Governor shall hire an executive director who must possess a background in at least one of the following: early childhood education, K 12 education, higher education, business, workforce development, or economic development.

Before October 1, 2021, the council shall establish a series of benchmarks that must include, but are not limited to the following:
(1) access to quality early learning, as determined by the council, including the number of three and four year old children in quality early learning settings;
(2) third grade reading proficiency, including the percentage of third grade students who score ‘Meets’ or ‘Exceeds Expectations’ on the SC Ready assessment, or its successor;
(3) eighth grade mathematics, including the percentage of eighth grade students who score ‘Meets’ or ‘Exceeds Expectations’ on the SC Ready assessment, or its successor;
(4) high school graduation rates, including the percentages of students who graduated in four and five years;
(5) youth nonparticipation, including the percentage of South Carolina residents between sixteen and eighteen years of age who are not going to school on the secondary level or in adult education, not in the military, or not otherwise working;
(6) post high school enrollment, including the percentage of South Carolina high school graduates who are in postsecondary education the semester after graduation from high school or are gainfully employed; and
(7) post high school education attainment, including the percentage of South Carolina residents ages twenty two through sixty five who have completed a two or four year degree, or have received a nationally recognized certification as determined by the Department of Commerce.

With assistance and consultation from the Department of Administration, the council is charged with creating and maintaining a publicly accessible website that reports the benchmark information, explains the benchmarks, and provides an annual update to show the state’s progress toward meeting each goal.

Beginning in 2021, the council is required to make an annual comprehensive report to the Governor and General Assembly that specifically identifies areas within the education and workforce pipeline where state agencies and other publically funded entities are failing to meet the benchmarks. The council shall provide recommendations regarding ways that state and local efforts can be improved, ways that collaboration and cooperation among state and local agencies and resources can be increased, and efforts underway or being considered in other states that address the noted areas of concern. The council also shall recommend legislation it considers necessary.

Enhancements to Academic Rigor to Improve Student Preparation

Computer Science and Mathematics Coursework and Incentives

The State Board of Education is charged with conducting, at least every five years, a cyclical review of grade appropriate standards for computer science, computational thinking, and computer coding for grades kindergarten through grade twelve.

No later than the beginning of the 2020 2021 School Year, each public high school and public charter high school must offer at least one rigorous, standards based computer science course. The course is to be made available in a traditional classroom setting, in a dual enrollment course, blended learning environment, online based, or other technology based format tailored to meet the needs of each participating student.

Beginning in the 2020 2021 School Year, the Department of Education shall:

(1) employ one experienced full time employee whose sole responsibility is to coordinate and lead the South Carolina Computer Science Education Initiative;
(2) support K 12 academic and computer science teachers in designing interdisciplinary, project based instruction and assignments that engage students in applying literacy, math, and computational thinking skills to solve problems;
(3) design career pathways that connect students to postsecondary programs, degrees, or postsecondary credentials in such high demand career fields as cybersecurity, information systems, informatics, graphic design, computer engineering, and software development;
(4) offer professional development and teacher endorsements to new teachers who will teach computer science;
(5) provide information and materials which identify emerging career opportunities in computer science and related fields to parents, students, teachers, and guidance counselors; and
(6) assist districts in developing partnerships with business, industry, higher education, and communities to provide afterschool and extracurricular activities that engage students in computer science.

By August 1, 2021, the State Department of Education shall develop a technology plan that addresses wireless Internet access for all public schools and must provide a report to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate.


Statewide Assessment Program Revisions

The legislation removes summative assessments not required by federal accountability law. This includes eliminating the eighth grade science assessment, all grades 3-8 social studies assessments, and the United States History end-of-course assessment.


Early Childhood

The Office of First Steps and the State Department of Education (SDE) must provide a report to the General Assembly regarding how to increase the number of children attending state-funded four-year-old kindergarten programs.

Read to Succeed Initiative Enhancements

The State Board of Education is charged with approving no more than five reliable and valid early literacy and numeracy screening assessment instruments for selection and use by school districts in kindergarten through third grade.

Assessments must be given at the beginning of the school year. For students who need additional assistance, the screening will also occur during the middle and end of the school year. Assessment results must be reported to the State Department of Education which is responsible for monitoring student progress.

Read to Succeed are revised to require that districts provide appropriate in-class intervention until all students are at grade level.

Students are to be retained if their SC Ready scores are at the “Does Not Meet” level. This is more rigorous than the current “Not Met 1” level.

The reading portfolio exemption for retention is strengthened.
When exemptions from retention are granted because of appeals by students’ parents or guardians, school districts are required to report on the number of appeals made, the number granted, and the outcome of the students whose appeals are successful.

More specific job duties and position requirements are established for reading coaches.

The State Department of Education must screen and approve reading coaches for districts where more than one-third of the students score at the lowest achievement level.

Early childhood, elementary, and special education teachers must pass a test regarding reading instruction before they can be certified.

Professional development required for compliance with Read to Succeed must be offered at no cost by the school districts.

The Commission on Higher Education and the Learning Disorders Taskforce are charged with examining the effectiveness of teacher education programs in regard to diagnosing and assisting students with reading difficulties.


Transition into Higher Education and Workforce Opportunities

The legislation provides for an expansion of dual enrollment opportunities so that students who want to go to college already have at least one year of college credit by creating a uniform, statewide credit articulation agreement between K-12 and higher education. The Advisory Committee on Academic Programs is required to develop a statewide dual enrollment articulation agreement that will replace all locally created agreements between K-12 and higher education.

Students desiring an Education Lottery scholarship must, in addition to existing requirements, take a math and English course during their senior year of high school to maintain these skills prior to entering college.

The legislation emphasizes an accountability system that should let parents know if schools are successful in preparing students for eventual success in college or on the job. To further this effort, the State Department of Education must continuously monitor student progress in grades K-12, and provide parents and students with lexile and quantile scores derived from assessments. In addition to using Lexile and Quantile scores, high school equivalency assessment thresholds may also serve as common admission scores to technical colleges. A test in an English/language arts and mathematics course may be used to satisfy the requirement. A test for every course is not required.

The legislation revises and updates the Education and Economic Development Act (EEDA). The State Department of Education, the Technical College System, the Commission on Higher Education, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Employment and Workforce must collaborate to ensure that workforce needs are aligned with career pathways and K-12 curriculum.

High schools or career centers must have a minimum of three career pathways, with at least one pathway in a high-skill, high-demand area. Pathways must be reviewed every three years and updated as needed. School districts must coordinate with each other to ensure student access to multiple pathways. Upon Department approval of bus routes, districts may provide transportation for students.

The State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education (SBTCE) must establish, and technical colleges must recognize, common admission scores. (Scores may be differentiated for certain programs of study.) Students who do not meet the minimum admission score should be encouraged to enter a noncredit program that awards a national recognized business or industry credential. Education Lottery Tuition Assistance is available for individuals who enroll in a noncredit, credential awarding program provided they enroll within seven years of the first time they entered the ninth grade.


Incentives for Teachers and Educator Development and Satisfaction

The state’s minimum teacher salary is increased to thirty five thousand dollars.

The legislation provides that no tuition may be charged for a period of four school years by any state supported college or university or any state supported vocational or technical school for children of full time certified classroom teachers with at least five years of teaching service who are employed in schools that have an absolute rating of unsatisfactory for at least three of the previous four years. The teacher must serve as a full time classroom teacher during the time the child is receiving the tuition free higher education. The benefit is retained even if the school’s academic performance improves.

An income tax credit is established that covers all of the property taxes paid for five years on a residence for a K-12 public school teacher who lives and teaches is a county designated as a Tier IV economically distressed county.

In order to better understand the demands of the 21st century workplace, public school teachers who work in grades 6-12 are encouraged to become interns for up to 80 hours per year. Employers who hire teachers for these summer internships are eligible for a $2,000 tax credit for each teacher they employee.

The board of trustees of a local school district may authorize the daily mileage reimbursement of a teacher who must travel more than twenty five miles each way between home and school. This reimbursement may not exceed the existing federal rate.

Local school boards of trustees may establish policies allowing teachers to enroll their children in the schools where they teach regardless of the student’s zoned area of attendance, and if space is available at the receiving school.

Each classroom teacher and full time librarian is entitled to at least a thirty minute daily planning period free from the instruction and supervision of students. Each school district may set flexible or rotating schedules for the implementation of this duty free planning period. Implementation may not, however, result in a lengthened school day.

The legislation includes provisions for colleges and universities to create alternative teacher preparation programs that are not nationally accredited. Such programs must, however, provide specifically mandated evidence of effectiveness.

The State Board of Education must review educator preparation programs at least once every five years.
The SDE must provide each teacher preparation program with information regarding the performance of its graduates. The programs are required to protect the confidentiality of the data, and the information is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

To provide for accountability in teacher preparation programs, both traditional and alternative, the legislation creates the South Carolina Teacher Preparation Report Card to examine the number of students completing the program, the performance of teacher candidates on basic skills examinations, and the effectiveness of the programs’ graduates in the classroom setting.

The existing teacher satisfaction survey currently administered is now statutorily required. Results must be complied, analyzed, and reported for each school and district. This data should be shared with policy makers on a yearly basis, and the Department will publish those results on its website.


Enhanced Accountability

Assistance for students in underperforming schools

The legislation reinforces accountability act provisions regarding assistance for struggling schools or districts.
Local school boards with below average or unsatisfactory performance records are required to establish renewal plans that must be approved by the State Board of Education. These plans must include professional growth plans for teachers and principals. A report on the assistance provided to the schools must be provided to the General Assembly on a yearly basis. Stakeholder groups that include mental health, social services, and law enforcement must be asked for input into renewal plans.

When a school receives an overall rating of unsatisfactory for three out of four years, the school is considered to be ‘chronically underperforming’ and one of the following must occur:
(1) the school will be reconstituted immediately after the end of the school year in which the annual report is published; and:
(a) the State Superintendent shall make all personnel decisions for the reconstituted school and shall have the authority to determine whether to terminate the principal, faculty, and staff;
(b) the State Superintendent of Education shall hire the new principal and staff for the reconstituted school if necessary; and
(c) the department shall contract with a public or nonprofit entity that has a proven record of success in working with underperforming schools and districts. The entity shall use research based strategies to assist schools with their operations and oversee the administration of the school until the overall rating of the school improves; provided, if the overall rating does not improve within three years then the school either must be restarted under the management of a high performing charter management organization selected by the State Superintendent of Education or must be governed by the South Carolina Transformation School District, and all state, local and federal funds generated by the students must follow the students to the charter management organization or to the South Carolina Transformation School District;
(2) the school must be closed and restarted under the management of an existing charter school authorizer or a nonprofit educational management organization selected by the State Superintendent; provided, if the school is a Title I school, the Department of Education will award competitive grants as authorized under federal law to support these new schools and all state, local and federal funds generated by the students follow the students to the charter school authorizer or to the educational management organization. The authorizer or management organization has the authority to terminate any and all employees of the school and hire employees at its discretion; or
(3) the school must be closed and its students must be transferred to higher performing schools in the district.

The South Carolina Transformation School District is established as part of State Department of Education to operate and manage unsatisfactory schools.

The Superintendent of Education is directed to utilize lower child to teacher ratios as a strategy to assist chronically unsatisfactory schools.

The legislation establishes a school district consolidation protocol which provides that, before August 1, 2023, local school districts whose kindergarten through grade twelve student population is less than one thousand, and where greater than fifty percent of the students attend schools whose report card ratings are below average or unsatisfactory, shall be merged with a district in the same county in which it is located.

School Board Ethics Provisions

The State Board of Education must adopt a model code of ethics that shall be adopted by local districts by July 1, 2020.

A person may not serve on a local school board if a family member is employed by the district as a superintendent, principal, assistant principal, or member of the district administrative staff. This requirement may be waived for districts with a student population under 3,000.

School board members may not their position for personal or family advantage. Expectations for board members are codified.

The State Ethics Act, including the requirement to file a statement of economic interest, is applied to local board members.

Local school boards must adopt an annual training programs for members that includes instruction on school law, ethics, school finance, nepotism, board relations, and conflicts of interest. Completion of the training must be reported to, and retained by the State Department of Education.

In addition to other statutory authority relating to the removal of officers, the Governor may remove a member of a school district board of trustees in a case involving fraud, misappropriation of funds, nepotism, violation of election or procurement laws, or a combination of these.

A protocol is established that allows board members to be removed by the Governor if the district loses accreditation for school governance reasons.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Federal Programs and Grants

The Legislative Audit Council is directed to study publish a report by August 1, 2020, identifying and detailing federal funding streams for programs and grants in elementary and secondary education in this state in total and breaking out the cost of overhead, compliance, and reporting incurred by the State Department of Education, school districts, and local schools.

[Read more…]

The Weekly Rewind – January 12th

rewind-t3951k

HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
January 12, 2018

Lawmakers returned to the State House on January 9, 2018, to commence the second regular session of the 122nd South Carolina General Assembly.

The House of Representatives took up the Governor’s vetoes on H.3720, the General Appropriation Bill for the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET. In addressing vetoes, legislators had to contend with a revenue shortfall that has left the state with approximately $34 million less in non-recurring spending than the estimates from the Board of Economic Advisers that were used in approving the budget. The House voted to sustain some of the Governor’s vetoes, including $4.9 million in nonrecurring revenue allocated to the Department of Health and Human Services to support various medical contracts. The House voted to override vetoes on other items, including Education Lottery Funds devoted to leasing and purchasing new school buses in the amount of $17.5 million from the Lottery Expenditure Account and $3 million in unclaimed prize money along with whatever balance may remain in the unclaimed prize fund. Vetoes that the House voted to override have been sent to the Senate for consideration.

The House approved S.456, addressing SOUTH CAROLINA TECHNICAL COLLEGE MOTORCYCLE SAFETY COURSES, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides that a person who holds a motorcycle beginner’s permit who has failed the motorcycle driver’s license test three or more times must successfully complete a South Carolina Technical College motorcycle safety course, or its equivalent, in lieu of passing the motorcycle driver’s license test, in order to obtain a motorcycle license. All courses must be at least eight hours in length and be taught by an instructor accredited through a training program in which the procedures for accreditation are equivalent to those set forth in ‘Manual of Rules and Procedures’ published by the National Safety Council. All courses must include successful completion of an examination equivalent to the Department of Motor Vehicles motorcycle skills test. The legislation also provides that any driver with a Class M (motorcycle) endorsement who has accumulated driver’s license points shall have the number of his points reduced by four upon proving to the satisfaction of the Department of Motor Vehicles that he has successfully completed an accredited South Carolina Technical College motorcycle safety course or its equivalent. No person’s points may be reduced more than one time in any three year period using these provisions.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4036, a bill AUTHORIZING THE STATE INSPECTOR GENERAL TO CONDUCT FINANCIAL AUDITS OF LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICTS at the request of state or local public officials who have complaints of possible school district financial mismanagement. The legislation expands the State IG’s authority to perform government audits by providing that the State Inspector General, for good cause shown upon request of any state or local public official or entity, may conduct financial and forensic audits of school districts. Audits must be completed and copies furnished to the relevant parties at the conclusion of the fiscal year following when the request was made, unless the State Inspector General explains in writing to the requesting parties compelling reasons why the audit cannot be completed during this time frame.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs

signs

With the November election less than a month away, inevitably people start to ask me “Nathan, who should I vote for?”

Obviously, they don’t recall that I have made it a practice not to endorse in local races . Instead, I believe our community has many opportunities to meet and learn about these candidates and can decide on your own who to support.

For example, you can catch candidates for County Council visiting the Ballentine Dutch Fork Civic Association or all the School Board candidates at this year’s voting forums . Many officials and candidates attended the 9th Annual Irmo Community Prayer Breakfast while some attend Irmo and Chapin chamber events . In the next few weeks, my guess is you’ll receive a lot of literature from these candidates and maybe even a visit at your front door step from a candidate or two.

Take time to read, learn and even ask questions before deciding whom to support. While some in the community will show up to vote (which, based on low turnout is actually more than the majority of people in the state will do), others will choose to display signs, make calls, and contribute financially. Whatever level of support you wish to give, do so in favor of your candidate and not campaigning negatively about other candidates.

Please look at the issues, the job and the candidates qualifications. If there are votes some officials have cast that you don’t like, that’s a legitimate concern. If there’s an issue one candidate addresses more than another candidate, maybe that’s your guy/gal. But please don’t succumb to personal vendettas or he said/she said spats that do nothing but divert attention from building up our community. And PLEASE don’t resort to vandalizing/removing signs of an opponent. We’re better than that in Chapin and Irmo.

One last thing that’s been on my mind for sometime is this – our school board currently has no minority representation. With seven members chosen to represent a district that has a diverse population from elementary schools to our high schools, shouldn’t our board be more diverse?

I hope you’ll get out and vote Tuesday, November 4th. Please check your Voter Registration Card to be sure you go to the correct precinct and remember to bring a photo ID with you to the polls!

Five years later…Kennerly Road/Coogler Road Intersection

Five years ago, I posted this article . Today, The State reports improvements are coming – as a result of the “Penny Tax”.

From The State…

Drivers in Richland County could see the first road improvement projects funded by a local sales tax completed by year’s end.

Meeting in Clemson for a two-day planning retreat, Richland County Council members seemed eager to get started on six intersection improvement projects outlined by transportation director Rob Perry.

The $15 million in construction could involve enhancements for pedestrians and cyclists at the intersections as well, said Perry and his deputy, Chris Gossett.

“I’m ready,” several members chimed in after Perry asked for an endorsement.

First, the county must resolve a protest over the hiring of a project management firm brought by the second-place finisher. Chairman Norman Jackson said he’s hopeful there will be a resolution soon.

The six intersection improvements would be the first tangible sign of progress after voters approved a penny-on-the-dollar sales tax for transportation improvements to roads, bus service and trails.

Until now, Perry has said unidentified dirt-road paving and suburban resurfacing projects probably would be the first projects completed. Thursday, he said it looks like those projects will proceed alongside the intersection improvements.

He’s also moving forward on a list of sidewalk improvements in coordination with the S.C. Department of Transportation.

He said the county’s project management firm, ICA Engineering, had suggested moving forward on the intersections as well.

Perry said each intersection will be studied to settle on the changes needed, but they would include such things as adding turns lanes, straightening or widening lanes, adding bike lanes and sidewalks, or putting in pedestrian signals.“We would expect at least one of the six to be completed by the end of the year,” Perry said.The intersections are:

To read more, click here

Romney’s visit to North Charleston (Boeing)

It was an honor to again welcome Governor Romney to our state. This time in North Charleston. Joining Governor Romney on his visit today was Governor Tim Pawlenty . After my opening remarks, State Treasurer Curtis Loftis introduced the man I believe will be our next President.

From the Associated Press –

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, fresh from picking up former rival Tim Pawlenty’s endorsement, criticized the Obama administration’s links to organized labor, arguing that a National Labor Relations Board’s complaint against Boeing is White House payback to unions.

Touring the aeronautics giant’s new $750 million plant in South Carolina, Romney drew loud applause from about 60 people in the North Charleston City Council Chambers when he suggested that any stimulus package to boost the economy should include legislation telling the NLRB to drop its Boeing complaint. The package also should block the agency from pursing similar action elsewhere in the country.

The agency has filed a complaint against Boeing alleging that the plant, which opened earlier this summer in North Charleston, was built in violation of labor laws to avoid unionized labor in Washington state. The NLRB claims Boeing opened the new plant to punish Washington state workers for past strikes and wants the company to return the work to Washington.

“It’s an egregious example of political payback where the president is able to pay back the unions for the hundreds of millions of dollars they have put into his campaigns at the expense of American workers,” Romney said.

Read more…

Signs, signs, everywhere signs

Drive anywhere in the community and you’re bound to see signs…everywhere. Believe it or not, I’ve been asked “where’s yours?” and figured I better address that before people get too confused.

I’m on the ballot again in November and am unopposed. This humbles me and also allows me time to direct more of my attention to my family, my paying job, and Gamecock football 😉

If you’re not sure who you get to vote for; you’re not alone. Many get confused because signs pop up all over the place and many times are not in the area where voters live and can vote for that candidate. Why you may ask? Because campaigns are often about “name I.D.” If there is a busy intersection, thoroughfare or highway within a mile of the boundaries; candidates will place signs there in hopes that commuter traffic may be actual voters that can vote for them on election day.

(Note: not to add to the confusion but the photo above is NOT from our community. If I had done that someone would have tried to read into it one way or another about whom I may be supporting. Been there, done that. I don’t endorse locally but I do endorse statewide and nationally if I feel strongly enough about a candidate. Why is this my policy? I feel our community has ample opportunity to meet the local candidates….mayors, county councils, city council, school board. When it comes to statewide and national races, our community doesn’t get to see or visit with those candidates as much. It’s those times when I’ll share my opinion.)

For those new to the area, a brief look at my service can be found on the Meet Nathan page. Most recently, I’ve learned that I again received very high ratings from the Palmetto Family Alliance , the NRA, , the SC Chamber of Commerce , and am “Green Approved” again by the Conservation Voters of South Carolina .

One group that watches tax payers dollars very closely, SC Club for Growth, has not issued their 2010 scorecards but their earlier ones have me always near the top. I hope to keep my consecutive streak of “Friend of the Taxpayer” going but after my vote on the cigarette tax , I’m thinking that streak may stop at 6 for 6.

There are other individuals and groups who have endorsed me but I’m not sure if endorsements really matter as much to voters.

What I think matters most are the issues, the service/responsiveness an official or candidate provides, and the accessibility and willingness to stay involved in the community. As my consultant always said “elected officials who stay in touch year round – and not just at election time – have a much better chance of doing the job they were sent to do.”

I hope I’ve earned your support again this November. I never take it for granted….but I do try to stretch a dollar and not put up signs when others need the space for their races.

Thank you for the privilege you gave me in 2005 and the continued support and advice you give me every day!

Our District Five School Board Candidates

Apologies for no posts since the August Community Update . I’m catching up on the news after being away and noticed we had eight members of the Lexington/Richland School District Five community offer their services to the community.

I know most of them and feel each brings his/her own strength to the Board .

As you know, I do not endorse in local community races but I do wish each candidate the best and hope the candidates will focus on the positives they would bring to office and avoid the tone that seems to always be in SC races.

Five Candidates offering for Richland side (2 seats):

Kevin Alberse, Irmo
David Hawkins, Irmo
Kim Murphy, Chapin
Bruce Reeves, Irmo
Ed White, Irmo (incumbent)

Three candidates offering for Lexington side (2 seats):

Ellen Baumgardner, Columbia (incumbent)
Roberta Ferrell, Columbia (incumbent)
Jim Turner, Columbia

The election will be held November 2nd. Be sure you’re registered to vote and are listed in your correct precinct: click here !

I would like to publicly thank Carol Sloop for her years of service to the community! Carol is not offering for re-election and I wish her well as she focuses on herself after giving so many hours and service to the Board and Community!

It's only Rock-n-Roll…isn't it?

In case you’re not sure, we’re less than a month away from one of the “most important elections” ever.

I’m reminding you because, since SC is seen as a state that’s not really in play (McCain should carry the state), you haven’t seen too many ads flooding the airwaves like the folks are seeing in the “swing states”.

I put the phrase “most important election” in quotes because….well….it seems like every election is labeled like that. At least this year, I think we have an election that will certainly change history. Whether Republicans win or Democrats win, our country will either have the first African-American President or the first female Vice-President. Both are pretty big news, if you ask me.

But tonight’s post isn’t about labels like black/white, male/female, Republican/Democrat though. We have enough labels in the world that separate us already.

One label I had to write about though is the ever present record-label and the music industry. I mean, forget the issues! Don’t we all just really listen to the songs that play when candidates walk out on stage and base our decision then who our guy (gal) is?

I mean, I’m the biggest Boston fan you’ll find; so when Huckabee played “More than a Feeling”, that was it! He was my man! But wait….then Tom Scholz got upset and told Huckabee to stop playing and using his song. Huckabee couldn’t really be my man if Boston didn’t like him, right? [Read more…]

First in the South: It's our turn now, y'all!

The nation turns it’s eyes to the Palmetto State for the next 11 days as the Republicans vote this Saturday (Jan 19) for their nominee and a week later the Democrats choose their candidate (Jan 26).

Just last week, Myrtle Beach put on a show with the GOP debate and very soon they’re center stage again for the Democrats.

Regardless who you support, I encourage you to get out and have your voice heard.

Think about it. If thousands of voters in Michigan (mainly Democrats) can wait in line and vote “uncommitted”, can’t we Sandlappers get out and vote for our guy (or gal)?

On the Republican side, most folks believe South Carolina is McCain‘s to lose but Huckabee should resonate well with evangelicals in our state. He’s backed by the Beasley name and the Campbell name. Those carry weight around here. Maybe Romney will see a bump from his win in Michigan? If you had to pick a darkhorse, many are saying former Senator Fred Thompson may surprise some folks. I actually thought he had one of his better performances at the Myrtle Beach debate last week but will that be enough to keep him alive in this very fluid race?

On the Democrat side, can John Edwards win here again? Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama appear to be leading but I think everything we’ve seen so far in Campaign 2008 leads us to believe there are always surprises around the corner.

One thing’s for sure (and it didn’t take a crystal ball to see this) “politics as usual” is at play. Anonymous attacks. Sign-stealing. Distortions on the airwaves. Sadly, as I have learned, politics isn’t like Sunday School.

Nathan on this year's legislative session

“If I’m tired of it, I’m sure the rest of the state is tired of it,” said Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Richland, a Sanford ally. “I saw some progress this year, and then all of a sudden, it falls apart. I thought we (legislators) had delivered on our promises.”

The State | Sanford and legislature still on unfriendly terms
Governor says elections next year may hold key to pushing agenda
JOHN O’CONNOR

Despite an August that’s seen a string of defeats at the hands of the legislature, Gov. Mark Sanford is optimistic he can push his agenda forward over his last three years in office.

A key, by Republican Sanford’s estimation, is having more like-minded lawmakers in the GOP-controlled General Assembly.

[Read more…]