Sunday, July 17, 2005
will take years of commitment
SC Statehouse Report
17, 2005 - - After studying and talking for three weeks about
South Carolinians in poverty, there are a couple of clear
conclusions that can be drawn:
First, it will be tough for people already mired in povertys
cycle to get out. Yes, some will emerge because theyve
got innate artistic or athletic talents. But for regular folks
who live on a few hundred dollars a week at best, theres
not a quick fix solution.
There isnt going to be a lot you can do to substantially
improve their condition if theyre middle-aged and particularly
if theyre middle-aged and dont have a lot of job
skills, said Furman University political science professor
John Simpkins, who has been studying policy alternatives to
help people in poverty.
Baron Holmes, a longtime poverty analyst who runs the states
Kids Count program for the Budget and Control Board, echoed
The plight of people who are low-education is pretty
awful, he said. Were not saying its
all over, but theres a high degree of predictability
about their lot in life.
Despite these sobering assessments, a second conclusion is
more heartening: there are strategies that can be taken by
governments and volunteer groups that will help break the
cycle of poverty. The most promising involves early educational
Youve got to win early, Holmes said.
To win a war on poverty, the state could invest in developmentally-based
early education programs that did more than provide meager
child care services for poor people who work. Instead, it
could start providing much earlier educational opportunities
so that kids start first grade with a better base, which Holmes
says will save money in the long run. Such programs initially
arent cheap, though, and could cost $150 million to
$200 million on a sustained basis to do correctly.
Provide something more than a school-day education,
Simpkins added, that follows kids outside the school
and gives them something that allows them to remain engaged
Other policy alternatives:
More training opportunities. As students get older,
schools could offer more higher education opportunities earlier
for those who will go to college. For those who wont,
they could offer better and more training to provide skills
that can help them get jobs.
Instead of using the 12th grade year as a placeholder,
students should have the opportunity to begin the next level
of their education - - whether its technical or higher
education. School-to-work programs and early college entrance
opportunities will accomplish that, Simpkins said.
More tech school opportunities. State officials also
could do more to help poor people take advantage of training
opportunities through the states technical education
system, analysts said.
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Tax incentives. The state could consider offering
more tax incentives to companies that work to hire poorer
people and provide them with training opportunities through
Tax credits. Expanding an earned income tax credit
for people in poverty could reduce their tax burden and improve
their quality of life.
Marriage incentives. With four out of 10 South Carolina
children born to single mothers, theres an automatic
stressor created because day care costs eat away at wages
earned by mothers so much that work becomes a disincentive.
Some suggest providing incentives for families to stay together
can create a dynamic where at least one family member is working
which, in turn, keeps children out of the worst situations.
Immigration reform. An increasing number of illegal
immigrants in South Carolina holds down wages because some
employers will hire lower-wage illegals instead of native
poor workers. Stronger enforcement of existing employment
laws also may discourage in-migration of illegals, who often
have lower educational attainment than poor South Carolinians.
Bottom line: The poor and working poor comprise about one
in four South Carolinians. State officials need to remember
them in public policy decisions - - and do more to make their
lives better because if we cant do more to help those
in need of help, what does that say about our values?
NOTE: This is the last installment of
a three-part series on South Carolina poverty. For previous
columns, see the links below.
7/17: You can't
take it with you
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
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Lawmakers should focus on real problems
To the editor:
There is no doubt that improving education would cut down
on poverty, crime and domestic violence. Our legislators are
too busy with tattoos, minibottles and other such nonsense
to be bothered trying to improve the rural schools. And oh
yeah, Laura Bush is in Africa looking at the poverty there.
Give me strength.
-- Donna Crile, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
7/11: Need to do more about poverty
To the editor:
Good article. (Commentary,
We really overlook these people. After the Civil War, they
moved to the places where they were out of sight and out of
mind. Now they are needed to play willing, but unknowing,
accomplices for a new form of exploitation via unscrupulous
developers, and theyve again suffered so others could
make tremendous wealth.
Its sad, and more need to know about it, and more need
to do something about this. We cant do anything about
the past, nor should we be held hostage for what our ancestors
did to one another, but if this is allowed to go on, we should
be held responsible.
-- Earl Capps, Ladson, SC
7/11: Charter school would help on St. Helena Island
To the editor:
While you and I are probably on opposite ends of the political
spectrum, I do read your columns in the Island Packet every
week. I do not always agree with what you write, but I do
try to understand you points of view.
Your column today was about Poverty and Education on St. Helena
Island. I was a bit puzzled with your column in that you emphasized
education but focused more or land use and poverty rather
than the solution, which you seem to elude (sic) to
You also missed an excellent opportunity to mention a very
positive aspect of education on St. Helena Island. Perhaps
you were unaware of it.
I am a (71 year old, Hilton Head, white, male, former Yankee)
member of a group of people that have formed a Charter School
on St. Helena Island which specifically addresses the problems
you have, in part, identified. It will be called, "The
St. Helena Island Gullah International Academy." We have
received approval of our application for a charter school
from the SC Department of Education and are awaiting approval
from the County Board of Education. The school should be up
and running by the fall of 2006.
This school formation is the result of a number of residents,
parents, students and community leaders on St. Helena Island
and throughout the county that recognize that the best way
to move people out of poverty and into the mainstream is by
education. Our charter school is intended to do just that.
It will start out as a K through 5 school and add a sixth,
seventh and eighth grade each year thereafter. The school
is being build for 500 students.
My personal belief is that local communities need to take
back control of their public schools. "Cookie Cutter"
solutions to education at a
state level have absolutely failed all over the United States.
Our school is just one example of how to overcome this. The
school and its curriculum will be designed for the school's
students and their needs. Also, the school will be open to
all applicants from all of Beaufort County.
I hope you support school choice as a means to achieve a better
education for our children. I write this not as a representative
of the forming group of this school, but as a private citizen
very interested in improving public education in our state.
-- Tom Hatfield, Hilton Head Island, SC
7/10: Grant program addresses Pee Dee poverty
To the editor:
As Director of the Francis Marion University Center of Excellence
to Prepare Teachers of Children of Poverty, I have read with
interest your pieces on poverty in SC.
August marks the beginning of the second year of a five year
grant awarded by the Commission on Higher Education. The project
includes partnerships with our 18 Pee Dee region school districts
and numerous other universities and agencies. Our goal is
to increase the success of children living in poverty by crafting
research-driven and specifically-focused programs delivered
at FMU, in partner school districts, and in their communities.
These programs are focused in four key areas: undergraduate
teacher education, in-service teacher development, school-family-community
partnership development, and advanced study (master's degrees)
programs. If we are successful in each of these four areas,
then our fifth goal, to become known as the premier resource
for teachers that work with children of poverty, will be attained.
Thank you for continuing to highlight this great need in
-- Tammy Pawloski, Professor of Education, Francis Marion
University, Florence, SC
7/9: Regional approach on prosperity
To the editor:
Readers may be interested in one major effort to implement
the kind of regional approach suggested by the Southern Growth
Policies Board (Commentary,
6/26) in the Rural Policies Research Institute's recent
Congressional testimony, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government
at the University of Georgia and others: Southern Passages.
Southern Passages is a non-profit organization whose mission
is to promote economic prosperity throughout the coastal areas
of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Advocates and their
partners blend economic development, education, cultural and
historic conservation as well as environmental enhancement
to heighten the overall southern experience. Since I-95 was
completed, the majority of southbound traffic has been drawn
away from the old U.S. 17/A1A corridor with its small towns
and their locally owned motels, cafes and shops along Main
Street. Much of the historic fabric of these towns, their
economic bases and the natural assets of the rural areas between
I-95 and the Atlantic remain intact. While there is much diversity
in the region, all share some common threads that could be
woven into a rich fabric of the Southern Passage.
Southern Passages is about strengthening place and regional
identity, fostering mutual understanding, diversifying and
expanding the tourism market, celebrating local heritage,
conserving important resources, and creating jobs. The private
sector interests, public agencies, nonprofit organizations
and heritage development advocates in 27 counties along the
Atlantic Coast that make up Southern Passages have worked
together for nearly ten years in an effort to stimulate economic
development in the regions small towns and rural communities.
-- Laura Morris, Mount Pleasant, SC
can we let poverty happen, Nancy Kolman, Pawley's Island,
residents need equal representation, Gene Deragon,
Jasper working together, Rep. Bill Herbkersman,
tax system needs to change, Hedy Williams, Beaufort,
won't go away,
Jerry Ausband, Garden City Beach, SC
This section tracks past forecasts by Statehouse Report
with other media reports:
In Statehouse Report:
has a long way to go on solid budgeting:
"A new report says South
Carolina is among 11 of the states in the nation that
face the highest risk of not having enough money down
the road to pay for its current level of programs and
services. Because of the way the state's tax system
is set up, its shrinking tax bases will grow at a smaller
rate than the costs to maintain government programs
at current levels."
In The State:
Report warns of dangers without smart reform to taxes.
"The report suggests several ways to modernize
a tax system to keep up with economic and population
changes, among them extending the sales tax to cover
more services, reducing or eliminating age-based tax
breaks, strengthening the administration of property
taxes and reducing property tax exemptions. Along with
that, other taxes can be reduced or eliminated."
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Sanford. It's good Gov. Mark Sanford asked the State
Ethics Commission to fast-track an online disclosure system.
Bridge. Hats off to the state for completing the new
Cooper River Bridge a year early and under budget. But did
we have to spend so much money on a fireworks display? Seems
as if people could have been helped in real ways with the
$250,000 spent on the show.
Abbeville. Congrats to the community for being the
first in the state to apologize for past lynchings.
Sanford. The governor is sending mixed messages when
he "told a newspaper 'it hasnt been proven yet'that
state universities can create jobs through research."
Don't tell that to lawmakers, who have pumped millions into
research in hopes of getting jobs.
Credit rating. Thumbs down to all responsible for
a lowered state credit rating -- the governor and state lawmakers
-- for not doing enough to create jobs and ignite the economy.
The governor's meddling with Santee Cooper certainly didn't
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