One letter on Zais, three on Obama

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Burgess defense of Zais is short on facts

To the editor:

00_icon_feedbackI found Gary Burgess’s opinion piece in the Statehouse Report on January 2 of particular interest because of its egregious claims regarding what comprises authentic fiscal conservatism, Mick Zais’s supposed accomplishments as state superintendent, and the impact of poverty on academic achievement.

Burgess lauds Zais as a true fiscal conservative who “fought the status quo” by opposing increased state funding in a tyrannical, “no excuses” rejection of poverty as a factor in student achievement. To the contrary, Zais only continued the decades-long status quo policy of underfunding education. Since the Legislature passed the Education Finance Act in 1977, it has been fully funded only eight times. Zais’s “conservative” posturing was nothing new. Certainly, it would seem easier to fix schools than to address poverty. Students from poor families are less likely to receive regular medical care or nutritious meals. They are more likely to be chronically absent from school and to be placed in overcrowded classes staffed by less-experienced teachers. They are also less likely to have educated parents or exposure to literature in the home or community. The fact is that it costs much more to educate poor children for these very reasons. The rate of low-income students in South Carolina is 58 percent. Governor Nikki Haley recognized this fact by focusing on poverty in her education agenda.

The South Carolina Education Association is confident that our highly qualified Superintendent-Elect Molly Spearman will be inherently more progressive in her stewardship of the State Department of Education and focus on norm-busting solutions that ultimately will improve the prospects of educational success for every student in South Carolina.

— Bernadette R. Hampton, Beaufort, S.C.

NOTE: Ms. Hampton, a veteran classroom teacher, is president of The South Carolina Education Association.

Great perspective on Obama

To the editor:

What an exercise in perspective!   I saw the article in the Florence Morning News.     It was so good to read a calm, logical, factual column amidst all the prejudiced and fear-mongering *7$#^@ op-ed pages which decorate our editorial pages!!

Keep it up.   You have many followers, even though many are “closet Brackites

— Joseph T. Stukes, Florence, S.C.

Disagree with you most of the time

To the editor:

I read your column every time, and most of the time I disagree with you. I am retired from the U.S. Army, International Mineral and Chemical Company (draw a small retirement from there) and draw my Social Security. I am 77 years old.

I work part-time for a local funeral company. I have a reasonable income and don’t think I am over taxed. In fact, I think we should pass a 5 cent tax on gas to repair the roads and bridges.  (Not to be used for road beatification)

I usually vote Republican, mostly on moral grounds. When President Obama first ran, he was opposed to same sex marriage on moral grounds. Did he lose his morals or change for the vote?

There have been many scandals in this administration, some true, some probably not. But with so much smoke, there is some fire. As I see it, he had led this country down a bad moral road, of which we may never recover.

— Julius L. Brown, Hartsville, S.C.

Courageous commentary

To the editor:

I was delighted to read your column, Give Obama Credit, in today’s [Sumter] Item. My wife and I said it took a lot of courage to write something positive about our president, especially in our state. Facts are facts and all you wrote are the facts.

I truly believe President Obama saved us from another Great Depression and that history will be kind to him, whereas currently all we hear are the negatives. I recall when President Truman left office with about a 30 percent approval rating and now is considered one of our top five presidents.

— Name withheld upon request, Sumter, S.C.

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