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Sunday, June 29, 2008

How To Compare Schools?

How to compare schools is always an interesting topic. Here are some quotes
from Kitchen Table Math Blog. Go to the site to read the whole article:
the homework gap
from Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us by Daniel
Koretz --

...these critics usually miss the flip side of the coin: ignoring
noneducational causes of variations in scores--that is, assuming that scores
are a direct indication of school quality--lets some high-scoring schools
off the hook. Some schools have high test scores because of the students
they serve rather than the quality of the education they offer, but those
who are convinced that scores most reflect educational quality consider them
good schools regardless. My own children attended some of the
highest-scoring schools in our state. They did indeed have some truly superb
teachers, but they also had some mediocre ones and a few I thought should
not have been allowed to teach at all, including one English teacher whose
grammatical and vocabulary errors during parents' visiting day were so
egregious that they sparked repeated and audible protests from the parents
sitting in the back of the room. Test scores were nevertheless always high,
a reflection in part of the very high education level in the community,
which was full of attorneys, physicians, academics, economists, foreign
diplomats, biomedical researchers, and the like...Not only did these parents
provide--on average--environments highly conducive to academic achievement,
but many also provided supplementary instruction, either by reteaching
material themselves or by paying for the services of neighborhood tutoring

A concrete example: when my son was in seventh grade, took a math class
that was not well taught. (I went and watched, to confirm my hunch.) One
evening he told me that he was confused by his math homework, which was part
of an introduction to probability and statistics. I first tried to clarify
the homework, but I soon realized that he was missing a few key notions. I
asked him for his class materials, looked them over, and retaught him some
of the core concepts, and after that he was able to handle the homework. I
went back to the kitchen to clean up from dinner, but he soon called me
upstairs again. He had just auditioned successfully for the school's jazz
band, and he was having trouble counting out rhythms in the piece he was
supposed to practice. I counted them out for him, but he still found them
confusing (as I had too, many years earlier, when I first tried playing
jazz). So I fetched my own horn and played the music at about half tempo
while he counted it out. That worked. As I resumed scrubbing pots, my wife
turned to me and said, "There you have it: social class differences in
educational achievement."

Disappointing scores can mask good instruction, and high scores can hide
problems that need to be addressed.

First of all, public schools are built to provide inputs, not outputs:
instruction, not achievement.

That may not have been so deadly when schools grouped kids homogeneously.
With homogeneous grouping the classroom teacher probably had a decent chance
of knowing where the kids were and of being able to teach to their level.

Along comes the de-tracking movement, and now you've got heterogeneously
grouped classrooms with kids all over the map in terms of readiness. The
inputs model hasn't changed, so teachers are told to teach to the middle, or
they're told to differentiate instruction, and when teaching to the middle
or differentiating instruction work for some of the kids but not all of the
kids, you assume the problem is the kid, not the school. After all, the
school's job is to provide opportunities to learn, and as long as you've put
PowerPoints on the SMARTBoard, you've done that.

Then add to this set-up school districts in which the vast majority of
parents are college-educated and affluent enough to hire tutors, and what do
you get?

You get "high-performing" schools where the kids are being retaught by
parents and tutored by tutors.

Friday, June 27, 2008

India Hook Elementary School in KAHNTACT

<<India Hook Elementary School.JPG>> This was in MB Kahn's quarterly
newsletter. Mount Holly Elementary will be just like India Hook
Elementary when it opens in the fall.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Where Do You Place Your Confidence ?

This chart was in an article in today's Wall Street Journal :

[Is Sour News Good News for the Dems?]

You can find the full article at:

A comment from the Flypaper Blog ( is interesting.  I'll leave you with it: "three times as many Americans express confidence in the public schools than in Congress. Perhaps lawmakers should remember that the next time they try to "fix" our education system".  Wish I had said it.


A Comparison of High School Seniors Over Time
This information from, Inside Higher Ed,  a site I recommend you subscribe to, reports on some interesting comparisons between graduating seniors from 1974 to today.  Excerpts are below:

June 26
Senior Moments: A Look at High Schoolers Over Time

It probably won’t come as any shock to college admissions officers or others who deal with traditional college-age students that high school seniors have changed significantly over the last 30-plus years. But some of the ways in which they have changed — laid out in a new Education Department study Wednesday — may challenge the conventional wisdom a bit.

The report, Trends Among High School Seniors, 1972-2004, examines — yes — demographic, attitudinal and other trends among high school seniors at four points over three decades. The demographic data provide little in the way of surprises; they show the high school-age population growing increasingly diverse over time, with white students making up 86 percent of the national high school senior class in 1972 and declining to 62 percent by 2004.

Black Americans showed the most social mobility over this period, with the proportion of African-American high school seniors who fell in the highest socioeconomic quartile rising to 13.5 from 5.2 percent while the proportion in the lowest quartile fell to 37.1 percent from 62.8 percent. The proportion of Asian Americans in the highest quartile rose to 30.9 percent from 23.1 percent, but the proportion in the lowest quartile increased slightly over that time span, too.

Although many faculty members like to complain about the declining capabilities of incoming students, the data show that students’ have increasingly taken advanced courses in high school. The proportion of students enrolling in calculus increased to 13 percent in 2004 from 6 percent in 1982, while the percentage taking no math in the senior year fell to 34 percent from 57 percent. Twenty-five percent of seniors took advanced science courses (chemistry II, physics II or advanced biology) in 2004 compared to 12 percent in 1982, and the proportion not taking foreign languages as seniors fell to 76 percent from 87 percent.

Despite the popular perception that students are engaging in more activities (for resume padding if not out of enjoyment), the statistics suggest otherwise. While the report shows increasing numbers of high school seniors belonging to honor societies (22 percent in 2004 from 14 percent in 1972), the proportions participating in high school publications (19 percent in 1972, 16 percent in 2004), in vocational clubs (22 percent in 1972, 16 percent in 2004) and academic clubs (26 percent in 1972, 21 percent in 2004, even though the 2004 category was broader and included debate) all fell. Participation in athletics basically stayed flat, apart from a spike in 1980.

Perhaps the least surprising (but reasonably encouraging) data come in the area of the future expectations of high school seniors over time. Significantly greater proportions of seniors in 2004 said they planned to attend college (79.2 percent) and to attain a graduate or professional degree (38 percent) than was true in 1972 (59 and 13 percent, respectively).

James Heggen and Doug Ledermanb

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rock Hill Schools on Blogs

The Rock Hill Schools Student Engagement Conference started today (Tuesday) at South Pointe High School.  Two blogs have already posted comments, Cathy Nelson's Professional Thoughts and Ed leaderWeb.  I've provided links to those blogs from my blog site.  You should visit and check them out.


Rock Hill School Board Business Meeting Notes

The Rock Hill School Board met on Monday, June 23, 2008.  Walter Brown was not there because he is recovering from surgery.  These are my notes from the meeting:

Approved by a vote of 6-0 the following promotions: Jackie Jones as Assistant Principal at Finley Road Elementary School; Laney Burris as Coordinator of Risk Management/School Safety; Carie Hucks as Asst. Principal at Castle Heights and; Gwen Lindsey as Asst. Principal at Sullivan.

Recognized Ms. Sandy Andrews on her selection as South Carolina's Adult Education Director of the Year;
Approved the Consent Agenda by a 6-0 vote.  Items were:
        minutes of the May 27 and June 9 meetings of the board;
        personnel recommendations;
        recommended 2008-09 salary scales for administrators, support staff, and teachers;
        overnight field trip requests from Rawlinson Road Middle School, Rock Hill High, and South Pointe High School;
        procurement code updates effective July 1;
        the cancellation of the July 14 work session of the board;
Bakari Rawlinson, owner and head coach of the Carolina Scorpions semi-pro football team, requested the use of a district stadium as their home stadium - no action was taken.

Supt. Moody made the following announcements:
        The Student Engagement Conference will be held June 24 and June 25 at South Pointe High School. Approximately 450 educators have registered to listen to nationally known speakers and choose from more than 100 workshops.

        A copy of the 2008-09 school calendar is now available on the district's website (

        School lunch and breakfast prices will be going up for next year.  This will be an item for the July Business Meeting.         

        Summer school for high school students got under way June 23 at Rock Hill High, with Asst. Principal Darryl Taylor as director.  Preliminary enrollment figures are at 200 students, but the district is also offering additional opportunities for high school students this summer which include Virtual High School and Credit Recovery plus classes at the Phoenix Academy and Renaissance for a grand total of over 1,000 students.

        Jessica Schonberg, education reporter at The Herald, will be leaving at the end of June to return to Chapel Hill. Her replacement will be Shawn Cetrone, an education reporter with the Charlotte Observer.

Approved the proposed 2008-09 general fund budget with a 5-1 vote (Douglas against). To make up the difference between expenditures and revenue, the board approved up to a three-mil increase on non-residential property and agreed that additional revenue could be taken from the 2007-08 fund balance or the capital expense fund.

What It Takes: Mentors, Motivation, Moxie and Moms
I came across this article from "The Core Knowledge Blog" and thought it would be good to pass along because it highlights some of the things the Rock Hill Schools are trying to implement.  I also recommend you visit "The Core Knowledge Blog"  ( and consider subscribing.


"Published by Leanna Landsmann on June 24, 2008 in Education Leadership, Parents and Students.

Every June we’re treated to cap and gowned seniors en route to their high-school graduations, proud families in tow. We smile and give them a ‘thumbs up.’  But we must also pause to see the drop outs as clearly as the graduates. 

One million students drop out of high school each year. The literature is packed with reasons: poverty, lack of college-bound culture at home, poor performing schools, low expectations and high pressure to reject academic success, too few great teachers and counselors. What more can the “village” it takes to raise a child do to prevent this?

As board chair of, an organization that helps parents put their kids on a path to college, I stew about this more than your average Jane. After umpteen decades of ‘school reform,’ I’m angry we’re still slogging in place.

So I look forward each March to a call asking, “Do you want to review scholarship applications again this year?”  I drop everything to pour over submissions from high-achieving, low-income New York City seniors who, if chosen, will get a generous four-year free ride to college from a family foundation with a bold-face name. From several hundred applicants, three-dozen are chosen to be interviewed. From that group, the foundation selects 25. 

The bulky applications provide us with information about students’ family income, academic record, and service to community. From their transcripts and resumes we get a peek into their heads and hearts. From two required recommenders, we get a sense of students’ work ethic, values, and grit that got them accepted at some of the nation’s top universities. From the financial aid forms, we learn just how much the scholarships would matter in pulling these young people out of poverty.  And from their essays we learn they have made no small plans. They want to be teachers, doctors, researchers, environmental problem-solvers, activists and public servants. “Change the world” is a common theme.

They have stellar GPAs, high praise from teachers, and a list of achievements that many 30-something middle managers would envy.  Yet the early odds did not favor these young people. Among this year’s finalists were two students who had commuted to high school from homeless shelters. All but one was born outside the United States. Most entered schools here speaking a language other than English. Most were from single parent families; they had responsibilities for younger siblings or worked to support the family. For many, without the earned income tax credit there would be little food on dinner tables. Several suffered extreme poverty, political repression, or emotional trauma on their paths to becoming high-achieving seniors in NYC Public Schools. You cannot read these applications without a box of tissues.

Each year we wonder, “How did these students persevere when so many with so much more fail? What’s in their secret sauce? Can it be bottled for others?”

This year, I decided to study the common ingredients. They fall into categories I’ll call the four Ms: mentors, moxie, motivation, and Moms. 

Mentors: Each applicant had a strong advocate within the school; a counselor or teacher, who reminded them daily of their potential. Each participated in high-enrichment activities or internships outside of school. They benefited from such organizations as LEDA (Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America), Jeter’s Leaders, Youth Bridge, Summer Youth Employment Program, Building with Books, Prep for Prep, Model UN, ROTC and programs affiliated with their houses of worship. Many had been prepped in middle school for challenging high school courses. They’d visited university campuses to literally see college in their futures. Guides helped navigate the college applications process.  Their mentors were force multipliers, steering them between the Scylla and Charybdis of poverty’s disadvantages and the anti-intellectualism of teen culture.

Moxie: The students who won scholarships had a full-tilt combo of energy, determination, courage, and know-how. One girl, whose losses were as painful as her dreams were hopeful, regained composure after a question that we did not know recalled a cruel memory. She paused and regained her composure more gracefully than we and continued to make her case. Others, like the young woman who presented an original poem telling us to cast away our fears, or the young man from the Middle East who outlined his plan for world peace, used the interviews to showcase their effectiveness as leaders.  From the marrow of their bones, they sent a message that said: place your bet on me.

Motivation: Teachers often find keys to students’ motivation in their resilience skills. Psychologists refer to resilience as “inoculation from the inside”. Resilience helps kids bounce back from the most trivial of slights and the most horrible of traumas. Resilience skills, contrary to popular notion, can be taught. They’re shaped by goal-setting, planning for success, and developing confidence through real achievements.  In other words, planning for success, and succeeding, brings more success. A desire for a better life helped these students set their bars high. They were motivated to take the toughest courses, get high grades, ask for extra assignments, and work at challenging jobs and programs out of school. They were determined not to allow current constraints on their lives follow them into their futures.  

Moms: When we asked, “Who is the person most influential to your school success?” these students overwhelming cited their mothers. Perhaps if more fathers were in their lives, we’d have heard about them too. But mothers who had low levels of literacy, who spoke no English, who were 10,000 miles away, who were ill and dying, who insisted that “you will be the first to go to college”, were so potent a force that they defined these students schedules and behaviors. 

This will not surprise those familiar with the work of Temple University Professor Lawrence Steinberg. When he surveyed 20,000 high school students, he discovered that a student’s academic success has as much or more to do with high parental expectations and an authoritative parenting style than income, ethnicity, or the parents’ level of educational attainment. For our applicants, each night, and each morning, there was a parent, or a memory of one, prodding them on.

Not everyone has the time or the skills to help push uphill the big boulder of district-wide school improvement.  But many of us can help bring more students through the eye of the needle. Here a few things you can do:

Volunteer to mentor. Go to to find a school or program that matches your geography, or call the counselor at your local high school to volunteer directly. Make a long-term commitment to a middle-schooler or help seniors with the potential to reach college with the arduous applications and financial aid process.

Provide leadership opportunities: Many institutions and businesses offer internships to students, coach them in professional skills, and sponsor programs that range from Moot Court to enterprise development. Get involved and save these programs from budget cuts during tough economic times.

Ask two things of the from your school district: Advocate for more committed counseling staff within middle schools and high schools. And focus less on getting parents to meetings than getting them to buy into the notion that high expectations for achievement trump everything. As Steinberg notes in his report, Beyond the Classroom: Why School Reform has Failed and What Parents Need to Do, (Simon and Schuster), parenting to put kids on a path to college is a skill that can developed.

Write a check: Generously support organizations that open our poorest high-achieving students’ eyes to life outside their crowded classrooms such as A Better Chance, Breakthrough Collaborative and the Posse Foundation, as well as local programs like  Boston Scholars, Prep for Prep (New York), Ranier Scholars (Seattle), Scholarship Chicago and others.

Americans are builders and doers, but none of us alone can slow global warming, stop the slide of the dollar, or eradicate poverty. But we can invest in our low-income, high-achieving students. They’re dreaming of ways to get these jobs done.

A nationally recognized education writer and editor, Leanna Landsmann writes a weekly column for parents, A + Advice, How to Help Your Child Succeed in School. Distributed by United Media Syndicate, the column appears in daily newspapers across the nation.  "

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rock Hill School Board Voting on Budget Monday, June 23, 2008

Meeting of the Board of Trustees
Monday, June 23, 2008
6:00 p.m. - District Office Board Room


I. Call to Order
Approval of Agenda
(Under consent agenda, all action items will be voted on after one motion
and second to approve them without discussion. If a
board member wants any action item discussed or voted on separately, the
board member, before the agenda is approved, must
ask that the action item be moved to the discussion item section.)

II. Executive Session - Personnel Matters

III. Citizen Participation

IV. Special Business - Sandy Andrews, State Award

V. Consent Action Agenda
A. Approval of Minutes
1. May 27, 2008, business meeting
2. June 9, 2008, work session
B. Approval of Personnel Recommendations
C. Approval of New Salary Schedules
D. Approval of Overnight Field Trip Requests (10)
E. Approval of Procurement Code Updates
F. Approval to Cancel July 14, 2008, Board Work Session

VI. Communications - Bakari Rawlinson

VII. Report of the Superintendent - Announcements

VIII. Review of Work Session

IX. Action Agenda - Approval of 2008-2009 Operating Budget

X. Other Business

XI. Adjourn

Rock Hill Schools Information for June 18

Compiled from information received from Elaine Baker, Rock Hill Schools District Office.
Sandy Andrews has been selected as South Carolina's Adult Education Director of the Year. The presentation was made at the Summer Leadership Institute of the S.C. Assn. of School Administrators.
Golf Tournament to Benefit Power of Mentoring Program
There are still a few openings in the Rock Hill Schools' Golf Tournament to be held at the Waterford Golf Course on Friday, June 27. For details, go to the district's website at:

Blood Drive Scheduled for June 26
Time: 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Location: District Office Training Room
Appointments: Contact Ana Glosson at 980-2005.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Former Northwestern Student Helps Clemson Win National Award

Clemson Marketing Department Wins NACMA National Award

June 13, 2008

The Clemson Athletic Marketing Department earned national accolades earlier this week as its Oliver Purnell's Posse t-shirt won the silver medal in its group at the 17th Annual National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators (NACMA) convention in Dallas, Texas. Director of Marketing Mike Money was present to accept the award.

Awards were presented in 18 categories, with each category divided into three groups based upon school size and conference affiliations to promote fairness. A total of 1300 entries were received for the 2007-08 year.

Recent Clemson graduate and former Rock Hill Northwestern graduate Seth Vining and current Clemson student Seth Mullikin came up with the idea for the shirt. Both were members of student government as well as a student group that worked with Athletic Department officials on basketball initiatives. Clemson Athletics and Student Government worked together in creating a very successful "OPP" campaign throughout basketball season.

NACMA is the first organization of its kind to provide educational and networking opportunities, enhancement of acceptable operating standards and ethics and establishment of the overall prestige and understanding of the profession of athletics marketing administrators. For more information about NACMA, visit

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Comment on Graduation Ceremony Standards

Some of you have been reading with interest the headlines of, "7 Arrested for Cheering at High School Graduations". Most people take from the article that it involved the Rock Hill Schools. The good news is that it does not. However, it could have been and has been in years past.


The Rock Hill High School graduations of 1998 hit a new low. The crowd (not the students) was very bad.  The atmosphere was closer to a zoo than a graduation. Parents were complaining because of the unruly and inconsiderate people in attendance. A school/community committee was formed to address the issues identified with the desire to bring dignity and true celebration back.

Some of those recommendations were:
Appropriate clothing attire would be required for all in attendance. Violators would not be admitted.
Appropriate behavior would be required for all in attendance - violators would be removed.
Teachers would wear Cap & Gowns and march in with the students.
Professional photographers would take pictures and the event would be televised.
Extra security would be hired and in full site during the ceremony.
To communicate these changes, students were verbally told the changes as well as given a write up for those attending the ceremony (with their tickets). Information was posted on school web sites and printed in the newspaper.  The tickets had the information printed on them. The principal made an announcement at the beginning of the graduation, informing all in attendance what expectations and consequences were.

And people get mad when you do what you tell them you're going to do?????? What did they think the extra security was for? Are they also surprised when the highway patrol gives them a ticket for speeding?

From my perspective, holding applause to the end is a very emotional and exciting event.  There is nothing better when the last students name is called and the whole place erupts with celebration. Every student and guest celebrating together. It's as if they had just won the national championship. What an experience to end your high school career.

Anyway, things got interesting on Wednesday when Rush Limbaugh discussed the incident on his radio show.  Some of his "ditto heads" began emailing our schools and complaining (even though, in this case, it wasn't us). I don't understand how civil disobedience is a conservative issue.  I thought preventing it would be one.

I didn't hear Rush's show. Some of his statements from the transcript are below:

Rush Limbaugh Show

CALLER (John):  ....  You know, you want it to be a dignified setting, and --

RUSH:  What are we talking here? We're talking high school students. High school students and dignified?

RUSH:  They're getting out of prison!

RUSH: They're getting out of prison here, John.  They can't wait to get out of there.  They're proud that they've graduated against the odds, that they had rotten teachers and a rotten school, and they still getting out of there with a diploma.

RUSH:  You don't see the loss of freedom in this? You don't see the slow encroaching on freedom? ....  
RUSH:  I can't believe it. This happens every now and again.  An innocent little story that I tell at the open of the program that is designed to illustrate the encroaching and gradual loss of freedom is causing the biggest hubbub -- well, it's not the biggest, but it's a hubbub, much bigger hubbub than I thought it would be.......

Read the full text here:

Read how the national media covered the event here:
• FOX: 7 Arrested for Cheering at High School Graduations <,2933,365461,00.html

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The State Newspaper Article on Former Northwestern Star Mitch Greeley

A different approach

Whether it is on the track or off, pole vaulter Mitch Greeley enjoys a lifestyle that raises a few eyebrows


Clemson athlete Mitch Greeley.

Mitch Greeley

EVENT: Pole vault

HEIGHT: 6 feet

CLASS: Senior


MAJOR: Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

IN HIGH SCHOOL: Three-time Class 4A champion at Northwestern High. ... 2004 S.C. track and field Gatorade athlete of the year

In COLLEGE: Three-time All-American (2006, '08 indoor; 2007 outdoor). ... Three-time ACC champion. ... Eight-time All-ACC ... 2008 NCAA indoor runner-up.

CAREER-BEST VAULT: 17 feet, 9 inches,

CLEMSON — In one sense, becoming the most decorated pole vaulter in Clemson history did not come naturally for senior Mitch Greeley.

First, Greeley had to learn to draw with his left hand.
After shaving his thick, chest-length dreadlocks before arriving on campus, the Rock Hill native sought another outlet for self-expression.
Having considered majoring in art, Greeley got a tattoo as a freshman and liked it so much that he bought a tattoo machine in order to try doing them himself.
There was just one minor setback — he wanted to keep his tattoos in one spot. The initial tattoo was on his right arm, and Greeley is right-handed.
So he gathered some oranges and practiced tattooing left-handed before eventually putting a bird, heart and diamond around his right elbow.
"I've always had something that's made me different," Greeley said.
Pole vaulters are stereotyped as a different breed, but Greeley sets the bar for eccentricity.
He rebuilt his first vehicle — a modest, black Nissan pickup — into a crude, off-road monster he drives today. After a practice last week, he was to go jump off a local waterfall with friends.
As such, deviation from the vaulting norm has lifted him to the sport's upper tier.
Greeley, the ACC and East Regional champ, enters this week's NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, with the nation's sixth-best vault, at 17 feet, 10½ inches. Rice sophomore Jason Colwick leads the way at 18-2.
The preliminary round will be held today, with at least the top 12 performers advancing to Friday's finals.
Greeley, who finished fourth last year with a vault of 17-6½, hardly fits in among his own athletic subculture.
A vaulter's take-off point varies depending on his size and the length of his vaulting pole. Few take off from within 12 feet of the bar/mat as a matter of physics.
But Greeley has little regard for that standard, much less consistently taking off from the same point each time.
His best indoor and outdoor jumps have occurred when he took off inside of 11 feet and contorted his way over the bar.
"He probably takes off closer than anybody in the country," event coach Josh Langley said. "The things that allow him to get away with that are his long arms and flexibility.
"A lot of pole vaulters feel if everything's not entirely right, they'll stop the run. Mitch is not like that. He just has sheer determination that, I'm getting over that bar."
Once he graduates in December, Greeley plans to correct his technique when he moves to remote Jonesboro, Ark., to join the professional training stable of Earl Bell, a three-time Olympian.
At a USA Track & Field-sanctioned meet in Columbia last month, Greeley vaulted 18-3 to position himself for an invitation to the Olympic trials June 27-July 6 in Eugene, Ore. The top 24 marks get in, and Greeley's ranks among the top 20.
The story of how he began vaulting is nearly as peculiar as his character.
Greeley made hometown headlines as a youth for his competitive rock climbing.
When veteran local track coach Bob Jenkins saw Greeley at the pool his freshman year of high school, Jenkins recommended Greeley give vaulting a try because the events used similar muscle groups.
By Greeley's account, he played around at track practice for two weeks because the vault coach, Bryan Squibbs, felt he did not need another vaulter.
That is, until Squibbs spotted Greeley doing backflips and pull-ups on the football goal posts and figured such elasticity could be harnessed.
Greeley went on to win three Class 4A titles and set the state-record vault at 16-9.
"If you asked anybody else, they'd say I am a lot calmer than I used to be," Greeley said. "I've mellowed out a little bit."
Look no further than his arm for evidence.
Among the cluttered artwork: a crescent moon to represent the state of South Carolina; the state itself; and a dogwood flower — because there were plenty around his home.
The tattoos have little meaning other than he liked their look.
"Mitch is really an intelligent man," Langley said, adding with a laugh, "but his hobbies make you question that intelligence sometimes."

What about Social Promotion?

The Core Knowledge Blog is seeking dialog about Social Promotion.  Is it happening? If so, should it be? Visit the blog at the above address and enter in the discussion.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Math Wars

The MathNotations web blog has some interesting information. Read the advice for parents and visit the web site for additional information.

MATH WARS - Advice for Parents

A few weeks ago I received a request for an interview from Jan Wilson, education columnist for The Parent Paper, a local publication here in northern NJ:

Hello Mr. Marain --

I am the education columnist for the Parent Paper and I am writing an article about math instruction, specifically about moving beyond the rhetoric of the math wars to discover which ways of instruction work best for K-5 students. It's going to be a fairly general article, designed for the parent who hasn't thought a lot about math before but becomes concerned because her child hasn't master times tables in 3rd grade, or isn't doing long division in 4th, for example.

To see the full article, look here.

[Note: You will need to go to pp. 42 and 43 for the actual article entitled, "MATH WARS."]

The following is the reply I sent Jan from which she excerpted a few of my comments:

I am speaking both as a parent and a mathematics specialist with over 35 years in mathematics education at all levels. I have also been publishing a blog for math educators for the past year and a half. It was recognized by the Washington Post as one of the Top 10 Educational Blogs for 2007. Despite all the rhetoric, there are no bad programs out there in my opinion. The reform programs like Everyday Math and TERC do a fine job of developing children's number and spatial sense and address problem-solving as well. However, the district has to be committed to the expectation that children will practice their basic facts on a daily basis. Some children will master their times tables by the end of 3rd or 4th, some later on. However, they should all be expected to learn it by the end of 4th, even if some youngsters will take longer. Parents should not hesitate to ask the teacher and/or the principal if these expectations are in place. Further, they should ask if children are given some form of practice both in class and at home on a regular basis. Some children will learn from flash cards, others need to write each fact 5-10 times, others can benefit from games or software. Excellent online games like Timez Attack from Big Brainz can be played both in school and at home. The free version is quite good, but it will not work for every child. The only constant is that the expectation of learning these basics is stated in the currlculum and that this philosophy is actually implemented. If children's learning of basic facts is assessed regularly in class, then one can reasonably assume there is follow-through. Sometimes the only way to be sure of this is to talk to parents of children who have been through the program. Just remember: Playing games and problem-solving do not replace the need for children to memorize their facts. There is no way to get around this. If the district math program does not incorporate sufficient practice, then parents will need to supplement fact practice at home, even if it's only 10-15 minutes a day. Each child learns his/her own way, but each child must do something every day, using a reward system if needed to motivate them. In addition to skills practice supplementing existing programs as needed, parents should ask what kinds of problem-solving materials are used. Is the source of these problems restricted to what is provided by the publisher or are other resources utilized? For example, are teachers provided with the problem books from Singapore Math, which generally contains more difficult challenges than are normally found in our texts. Another question parents can ask if there is a new program is, "How have or will teachers be trained?" Is there a full-time Staff Developer working with teachers? Is there a math specialist for K-5 or 5-8? Short-term staff development is not nearly as effective as ongoing training, both for experienced and new teachers. It is important for parents to be aware that NJ Ask and other state testing will be undergoing significant changes in response to the recommendations of the National Math Panel, NCTM and organizations such as Achieve. All of these groups are calling for a reduction each year in the number of topics covered so that there will be more time for children to work toward mastery of important skills AND to develop greater depth of understanding. Teachers will be able to devote more time to provide both enrichment and reinforcement. This is an exciting opportunity. The Math Wars have been fueled by extremists on both sides. In the end, our children need a more balanced math education which will incorporate the best of the traditional and reformed.

Remember, I was writing this primarily for parents. These comments represent the same positions I have taken for the past 20 years and for which I have been challenged (a euphemism for attacked) by both "sides" for the same 20 years! Hey, I may be wrong but at least I am consistent!

Two District Information Videos To Watch

This first link is to The Heralds slide show on the South Pointe Graduation.  Melissa Cherry put this together celebrating Rock Hill's first new graduating class in over 30 years.  The address is:

The second is a video on the budget presentation on Monday Night.  You'll have to sign in with a name before the video will play.  The address is:

Monday, June 9, 2008

District Three High School Football Schedules For 2008

(From the SC High School League Site)
 Date    Day    Time    Home    Away
August 29, 2008 Fri   7:30 PM Wando   Rock Hill
August 29, 2008  Fri    7:30 PM   South Pointe    J L Mann
August 29, 2008  Fri    7:00 PM   Northwestern    Goose Creek

September 5, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM Rock Hill  Nation Ford
September 5, 2008 Fri  8:00 PM Fairfield Central  South Pointe
September 5, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM Spartanburg  Northwestern

September 12, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM Rock Hill  Northwestern
September 12, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM Clover  South Pointe

September 19, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM Clover  Rock Hill
September 19, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM South Pointe  Fort Mill
September 19, 2008 Fri  7:00 PM Northwestern  Chester

September 26, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM Fort Mill  Rock Hill
September 26, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM York  South Pointe
September 26, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM Lancaster  Northwestern

October 2, 2008 Thur. 7:30 PM Northwestern South Pointe
October 3, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM Rock Hill  York

October 10, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM Rock Hill  Ridge View
October 10, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM Lancaster  South Pointe
October 10, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM Nation Ford  Northwestern

October 17, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM Spring Valley  Rock Hill
October 17, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM South Pointe  Ridge View
October 17, 2008 Fri  7:00 PM Northwestern  Clover

October 24, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM Rock Hill  Lancaster
October 24, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM South Pointe  Blythewood
October 24, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM York  Northwestern

October 31, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM Blythewood  Rock Hill
October 31, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM South Pointe  Spring Valley
October 31, 2008 Fri  7:00 PM Northwestern  Fort Mill

November 7, 2008 Fri  7:30 PM South Pointe  Rock Hill
November 7, 2008 Fri  7:00 PM Northwestern  Gaffney

Sunday, June 8, 2008

J.K.Rowling speaking at Harvard part 1

Text of speech is below:

President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, proud parents, and, above all, graduates.

The first thing I would like to say is ‘thank you.’ Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honour, but the weeks of fear and nausea I’ve experienced at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight. A win-win situation! Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, squint at the red banners and fool myself into believing I am at the world’s best-educated Harry Potter convention.

Delivering a commencement address is a great responsibility; or so I thought until I cast my mind back to my own graduation. The commencement speaker that day was the distinguished British philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock. Reflecting on her speech has helped me enormously in writing this one, because it turns out that I can’t remember a single word she said. This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, law or politics for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard.

You see? If all you remember in years to come is the ‘gay wizard’ joke, I’ve still come out ahead of Baroness Mary Warnock. Achievable goals: the first step towards personal improvement.

Actually, I have wracked my mind and heart for what I ought to say to you today. I have asked myself what I wish I had known at my own graduation, and what important lessons I have learned in the 21 years that has expired between that day and this.

I have come up with two answers. On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called ‘real life’, I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.

These might seem quixotic or paradoxical choices, but please bear with me.

Looking back at the 21-year-old that I was at graduation, is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the 42-year-old that she has become. Half my lifetime ago, I was striking an uneasy balance between the ambition I had for myself, and what those closest to me expected of me.

I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that could never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension.

They had hoped that I would take a vocational degree; I wanted to study English Literature. A compromise was reached that in retrospect satisfied nobody, and I went up to study Modern Languages. Hardly had my parents’ car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor.

I cannot remember telling my parents that I was studying Classics; they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day. Of all subjects on this planet, I think they would have been hard put to name one less useful than Greek mythology when it came to securing the keys to an executive bathroom.

I would like to make it clear, in parenthesis, that I do not blame my parents for their point of view. There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. What is more, I cannot criticise my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools.

What I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure.

At your age, in spite of a distinct lack of motivation at university, where I had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing stories, and far too little time at lectures, I had a knack for passing examinations, and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.

I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.

However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person’s idea of success, so high have you already flown academically.

Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.

Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.

Given a time machine or a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

You might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

One of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded Harry Potter, though it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books. This revelation came in the form of one of my earliest day jobs. Though I was sloping off to write stories during my lunch hours, I paid the rent in my early 20s by working in the research department at Amnesty International’s headquarters in London.

There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.

Many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners, people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to think independently of their government. Visitors to our office included those who had come to give information, or to try and find out what had happened to those they had been forced to leave behind.

I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.

And as long as I live I shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door, a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since. The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her. She had just given him the news that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country’s regime, his mother had been seized and executed.

Every day of my working week in my early 20s I was reminded how incredibly fortunate I was, to live in a country with a democratically elected government, where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone.

Every day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or maintain power. I began to have nightmares, literal nightmares, about some of the things I saw, heard and read.

And yet I also learned more about human goodness at Amnesty International than I had ever known before.

Amnesty mobilises thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have. The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.

Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s minds, imagine themselves into other people’s places.

Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise.

And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.

I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces can lead to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.

What is more, those who choose not to empathise may enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.

One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.

That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.

But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people’s lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world’s only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden.

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

I am nearly finished. I have one last hope for you, which is something that I already had at 21. The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children’s godparents, the people to whom I’ve been able to turn in times of trouble, friends who have been kind enough not to sue me when I’ve used their names for Death Eaters. At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister.

So today, I can wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom:
As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.
I wish you all very good lives.
Thank you very much.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Teacher Project Trailer

A short video dedicated to the 3.2 million public school teachers.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Rock Hill Schools Work Session on Monday, June 9, 2008

SCHOOL BOARD WORK SESSION                                              
LOCATION:  District Office                                             
        WORK SESSION                                   
1       Introduction to Transportation, Distribution & Logistics        1-10    Don Gillman     15 minutes             
PUBLIC HEARING On 2008-09 Budget                Lynn Moody      30 minutes             
        WORK SESSION                                   
2       Salary Guidelines       1-10    Beckye Partlow & Elaine Bilton  15 minutes             
3       Budget Discussion       1-10    Bob Norwood     60 minutes             
4       Schedule for July               Bob Norwood     10 minutes             
EXECUTIVE SESSION                                      
        Legal Matter                                   

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Revising EAA Becomes Law

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Legislation replacing PACT tests, revising 1998 accountability system becomes law

COLUMBIA Legislation that will replace PACT in 2009 while making
significant changes to South Carolinas overall student assessment and
school accountability systems became law today when Governor Mark
Sanford allowed it to pass without his signature.

The new legislation makes the first significant changes to South
Carolinas Education Accountability Act since it was approved by the
General Assembly 10 years ago.  That law mandated annual testing for
380,000 students in grades 3-8 and the publishing of annual school
report cards.
These changes are what teachers and parents have been asking for,
said State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex.  They make our
accountability system more practical for educators, more effective for
schools and more useful to parents.

Legislative debate on the bill began with sometimes heated partisan
rhetoric but ended with both Republicans and Democrats celebrating the

It was encouraging to see how the tone of the debate changed as we
went along how the discussions became very positive and
constructive, Rex said.  I hope we can maintain that spirit of
cooperation as we tackle the issue of equitable school funding next

The changes to the law are based on recommendations from two statewide task forces appointed by Rex last summer one for testing and one for accountability.  Those groups, which met numerous times over the late summer and fall, included representatives from local districts and schools, teacher and school administrator organizations, the South
Carolina School Boards Association, the General Assembly, the Education
Oversight Committee, the State Board of Education, business groups, and colleges and universities.

The new law:
��Eliminates PACT and replaces it in 2009 with new end-of-year
accountability tests that feature essay exams in March and more
easily scored multiple-choice exams in May.  Schools will get final
results within a few weeks of the May tests, compared to late July with
��Revises the content of annual school report cards to make it
more understandable and useful for parents, while simultaneously making certain that any revisions are in full compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
��Supports formative assessments in English language arts
and mathematics.  These tests will provide teachers with immediate
feedback on individual students strengths and weaknesses and allow
them to customize instruction based on those needs.
��Eliminates burdensome paperwork requirements for teachers.
��Brings South Carolinas student performance targets into
alignment with other states.  Changes student performance indicators on
state standardized tests from four levels to three (exemplary, met and
not met).
��Reviews the states school accountability system every five
years to be certain that its working efficiently and effectively.
��Deletes language in the EAA that had become outdated, and also
incorporates into the law a number of add-ons that had been
inserted each year through budget provisos.

Rex thanked the legislators who helped to fashion the bill,
particularly the six conferees who worked quickly to hash out the
different versions of the bill that emerged from the House and Senate.
The conferees were senators Wes Hayes (chair), Nikki Setzler and Linda
Short and House members Bill Whitmire (vice chair), Eric Beddingfield
and Jimmy Neal.

Rex also thanked Senate Education Committee Chairman John Courson and House Education and Public Works Committee Chairman Bob Walker for their leadership in shepherding the legislation through their respective chambers.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Be careful what you ask for

Many of you have not been aware of the war going on in the SC Republican party. Below are web addresses of blogs which have been at the forefront - take time to look them over to help you decide. Below the addresses is an article from The State newspaper that briefly describes some of the issue.

By CINDI ROSS SCOPPE - Associate Editor
CHAD WALDORF loves to remind me, particularly after I write disparagingly about all the little groups that have sprouted up to support parts of Gov. Mark Sanford’s agenda, that his S.C. Club for Growth frequently highlights my columns, and that it’s one of the few organizations pushing the agenda most near and dear to my heart government restructuring.

So when he sent me a note calling my attention to a “reform agenda” that our pal Tom Davis had put together and gotten 20 of his fellow Senate candidates to sign on to, I was intrigued.

Sure enough, the “Common Sense Contract for Change” is full of smart ideas. It calls for taxing and spending reforms with a heavy emphasis on comprehensive tax reform and sensible approaches to the way budgeting is done structural reforms to give the governor more control over the executive branch, ethics reform, kicking the Legislature out of city and county decision-making, making the judiciary more independent. In fact, all but three and a half of the 15 items on the agenda could have come straight out of my columns as some of the language apparently did.

There isn’t even an implicit reference to the very worst idea promoted by Mr. Sanford and his friends vouchers and tax credits for private schools.

Unfortunately, the thread running through all of these fine ideas is the same one that permeates all of Mr. Sanford’s proposals the idea that our government is too big, our taxes too high. I agree that we don’t get what we pay for, but that doesn’t mean we’re paying too much; it means the Legislature isn’t allocating our money well. Allocate it correctly, and chances are good we still wouldn’t have all the prison guards and troopers and top-class teachers we need, couldn’t afford the bridge and road improvements we need, and on and on.

But as maddening as it is to see that misleading idea repeated, that’s not what made me most uncomfortable about the agenda.

By happenstance, a colleague had dropped a copy of the infamous “hit list” memo on my desk earlier that same day. It’s the one that created a stir at the State House earlier this year, allegedly written by former Sanford spokesman Will Folks, which lists the lawmakers who should be taken out in order to create “a more conservative Republican majority” to implement Mr. Sanford’s ideas, along with the strategy for accomplishing that. On a hunch, I picked it up and started thumbing through it.

It’s so filled with over-the-top, cloak-and-dagger nonsense that if I didn’t know better, I’d think it was parody, composed by a clever writer who planned to let it “leak,” and then sit back and laugh at all the gullible media types and lawmakers who took it seriously. But I knew it wasn’t parody, because I had just seen it being implemented.

Central to the strategy, the memo said, was to “create a unifying platform” for favored challengers to sign “Call it a ‘Contract With South Carolina,’ a “South Carolina Contract for Competitiveness,’ call it whatever”. It would include “a spending cap, an overhaul of the tax code and government restructuring.”

The memo suggests the creation of a “Core Council” that would coordinate the campaign (working in secret so nobody knew it was coordinated, and thus subject to those pesky campaign disclosure laws that Mr. Sanford championed but his best allies have no intention of obeying). The “overlord” was to be Mr. Waldorf. Mr. Davis, who was Mr. Sanford’s chief of staff until he resigned to run for Senate in Beaufort County, was to handle “research, Contract for SC development.”

The memo doesn’t say who’s bankrolling the hit campaign, but we know who has been pouring money into the Sanford agenda: the anti-government folks from New York and other parts outside our state whose first goal is to undermine public support for the most expensive thing state government does, by paying parents to abandon the public schools.

And so here we have the Mark Sanford dilemma.
My colleagues and I have been pushing him for years to put some political muscle into government restructuring, rather than reserving it all for income tax cuts and vouchers. Now, it appears that he’s doing just that. And I so want to believe that he is. But can anybody trust him and his support groups, particularly given who’s writing the checks?

Consider their past and their present.
We’re now in the middle of the third Republican primary cycle that is marked by big-bucks campaigns aimed at defeating legislators who oppose private-school vouchers and tax credits. Each time, you were hard-pressed to find any mention of vouchers or tax credits in the reams of attack post cards and radio spots. Simple reason: The voucher backers know they’re not popular in South Carolina not even in Republican primaries.

So they attack on other grounds, usually making misleading charges and occasionally even fabricating them. They say their targets want to raise the gas tax based on a survey they filled out a decade ago, claim they voted for spending bills that they actually opposed, focus on state judicial elections that they hope voters will confuse with the liberal-conservative fights in Washington that haven’t occurred here.

In short, SCRG and Conservatives in Action and other pro-Sanford groups whose funding has been traced back to New York libertarian Howie Rich ( have a record of building their campaigns around populist Trojan horses to hide their real agenda and suck in ordinary voters who don’t live and breathe this stuff.

I believe Tom Davis really is motivated by the good-government side of Mr. Sanford’s agenda; he really does want to empower the executive and get the Legislature out of local government. But he also supports vouchers. And it would be hard to believe that he would be following the hit-list playbook so precisely if he weren’t ... following the hit-list playbook so precisely.

Ms. Scoppe can be reached at or at (803) 771-8571.

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