Courier Letters to the Editor 7-15-15

Why the rush?

Dear Editor,

Many question the timing and rushed process used to remove the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds. Honest answers to a few questions are revealing. The flag was at its location on the Statehouse lawn for 15 years, if it was such a pressing issue, why wasn’t something done about it during the last 15 years?

Why did they only act when national TV cameras showed up? Is it right to bypass the normal legislative process and rush this legislation through now, forever linking the tragedy in Charleston to the removal of the flag, and by association saying anyone who supports the flag is no better than the killer of those innocent Christians in Charleston?

There is a time and place for all things, and rushing legislation through, whether the flag stays or goes, in the aftermath of the Charleston massacre seems mighty insincere on the part of some politicians. Could the flag debate not have waited a few months until after the TV cameras and national media move on to the next tragedy?

I believe it could have.

Phillip Bowers

Six Mile

This has gone too far

Dear Editor,

I was proud to see our state coming together across racial and economic differences to give loving support to the victims, their families and the community of Charleston in the wake of the tragic shootings. This was in stark contrast to Baltimore or Missouri, where hand-in-hand we condemned the killer and his message. Instead of street violence erupting, true brotherhood was starting to shine, a reflection of our state’s deep Christian heritage.

This would have been a unifying event if it was not for some politicians, outsiders and the national media, who chose not to further this coming together, but instead pulled out the Confederate Battle Flag and used it to drive a wedge of division through the state.

The media labeled the flag as a racist symbol, and those who fly it or support it in any way as white supremacists. Often this racist label was pinned to the entire state, as the media had a take-no-prisoners approach. This was unfair. As polls show, some see the flag as racist, but the majority do not, instead seeing it as a symbol of Southern heritage or representing rebellion against a growing and more intrusive federal government.

Instead of pointing out this mischaracterization and defending our citizens, their heritage and our state, Gov. Nikki Haley and most of our state representatives called for the removal of the flag and said no more, seemingly accepting the racist label the media tagged to our state.

My representative, Neal Collins, went along with it all. He made it clear the only thing he would support was taking down the flag, its flagpole and the fence around it — no compromise. He even voted against replacing the battle flag with the current South Carolina state flag, leaving the impression he finds it offensive as well. There were other attempts at a reasonable compromise, including letting the people decide by referendum. All were rejected.

The media came in, smeared the state and all of us in it, wanted the flag down “now,” and too many of our state representatives just went along with their agenda.

Seeing little resistance, the media is now branding anything to do with Southern tradition as racist and demanding all monuments tied to the Confederacy be taken down, too. When are our state leaders going to stand up against this? By their actions, they are surrendering our culture and heritage to those who would define that culture and heritage by the actions of a racist mass murderer. This has gone too far.

Rick Tate


Now is time to raise taxes for schools

Dear Editor,

I never thought I would be writing this, but I agree with Alex Saitta.

Saitta, a Pickens County School Board member, pointed out at the last board meeting and again in a letter to the editor that the school district had cut 55 teaching positions over the last two years and planned to cut another 15 for a total loss of 70 teachers. As Mr. Saitta said, “How is that going to help students?” It won’t.

However, where Mr. Saitta is wrong is blaming those cuts on the school district putting teachers’ step increases back in the budget. First, 55 of those positions were lost before the school board gave teachers their step increases back.

Secondly, Mr. Saitta is right — many business owners and workers went two, three and four years without pay raises during the recession. But the School District of Pickens County has gone without a pay increase for 11 years. That is how long it has been since there has been a millage increase in Pickens County for operational expenses for Pickens County schools. Over that time, I have seen classroom supply funding cut again and again, programs lost, teacher pay cut, and as Mr. Saitta points out, teacher positions lost.

Yes, businesses and workers suffered during the recession, but so did our schools. A lot of my peers and friends who worked in the teaching profession are now gone, a lot of the programs that made Pickens County one of the top school districts in the state have been lost and we struggle to provide a decent education for our children. Why? Because we have been denied the funding.

All across Pickens County, I see signs of recovery — businesses remodeling and expanding, new businesses like the Sam’s shopping center in Easley, the Wal-Mart shopping center in Pickens and the Publix shopping center in Clemson opening, many new apartment buildings going up and the housing market recovering.

Yet our schools and our children are not allowed to share in the recovery? How long will building the new schools be held over our heads? Until there are no teachers left?

Mr. Saitta claims he supports Pickens County teachers, that he wants to fight to keep classroom teachers, and that he wants to improve education for the children of Pickens County. Now he has an opportunity to put his words into action. I call on Mr. Saitta to do the right thing and demand a millage increase for the operating expenses of the School District of Pickens County to save teachers’ jobs.

I call on Mr. Saitta to prove he is indeed “for the teachers and children of Pickens County.”

“Coach Bill” Wilson


AdvancED should stay out of politics

Dear Editor,

The issues regarding the Pickens County School Board and the accreditation organization, AdvancED, could lead readers to fear the school district is out of control.

Fortunately, the facts do calm these fears. An accreditation organization should review, monitor and certify the quality and effectiveness in a district’s role of educating students. Students in our county schools rank fourth in the state with an average ACT score of 22.4, seventh in the state in composite SAT scores with 1489, and the graduation rate has improved from 72.6 percent in 2009 to 80.4 percent in 2014. AdvancED’s review should have started and ended there with an “A” grade.

For some reason, AdvancED has become the self-appointed master of telling elected school boards around the nation what they should do, how they should do it, and what they should say when they are doing it. I was appalled to read in the first report AdvancED cited our board for “Public discussions and comments made by board members reported in the local news media and online sources [that] indicate open disagreement between board members with respect to actions of the board…” So board members disagree at times and do so publicly. That isn’t a negative quality in a democracy.

In general, I found AdvancED’s reports to be petty and demeaning. Their primary issues stem from the school board not adhering to AdvancED’s “best practices,” which boils down to having the board “rubber stamp” any and all initiatives proposed by the school district administration. AdvancED is trying to bully our board to follow the administration’s wants by threatening to withhold their stamp of approval. AdvancED tried the same tactic in the state of North Carolina. Their legislature responded to this type of bullying by passing H324 in 2011 to require the admissions departments of state colleges and universities to only consider a prospective student’s academic performance and not consider AdvancED’s view on the school. AdvancED needs to stay out of politics of elected bodies and stick to rating the quality of the education in our schools.

Harv Rettberg


Standing idly by

Dear Editor,

Much of our culture and beliefs are being redefined while we stand idly by.

We’ve stood by and even embraced the homosexual culture as they have used the media and the word gay to redefine and mainstream their lifestyle.

We’ve allowed our leaders to appoint a Supreme Court who is redefining marriage and stripping the states’ right to decide and the people’s right to believe as we wish.

We stood by 40 years ago as the Supreme Court redefined abortion as a right.

The Supreme Court is stripping our states’ rights as the liberals are redefining healthcare as a right.

The secession of the Southern states was all about states’ rights, and the Confederate Battle Flag is a symbol of those rights and Southern heritage. The flag stands for brave men fighting for what they believed in. The flag is currently being redefined as a symbol of bigotry and hate.

We stand by and even encourage our leaders to take the flag down, once again caving to the NAACP, liberals, outside business interest and even well-meaning Americans who use a horrible shooting to push their agenda.

Christians are currently being redefined as intolerant, ignorant and out of touch with the progressive agenda. Over the past few years, all signs of God and Christianity have been stripped from our government and schools.

You watch, as the cross will be redefined as a hate symbol because someone is offended.

As for my family and I, we will never under any circumstances condone or approve anyone trying to tell us what to believe, what to think or how to worship.

Doug Tinsley


Too much for children

Dear Editor,

Decades ago, a child was a child. Children for the most part were faced with issues no more sophisticated than what was healthy for them. Being bullied over their lunch money was probably the most difficult and complex issue a child faced in the Leave-It-To-Beaver era.

Otherwise there wasn’t much to challenge their developing social, psychological and emotional systems. This allowed children to develop healthily, reinforced by positive messages from their parents, church and school. By the time they became adults and were whole, they were able to field adult issues without being thrown into a harmful ditch.

Today, many children are left unsupervised because of the breakdown of the family. The media is also throwing a slew of adult issues at children — drugs, violence, sex, four-letter words and the gay lifestyle. Children are exposed to these issues in all sorts of ways — in movies, on TV, and in music. Children are regularly challenged with adult questions that they aren’t mature enough to deal with successfully. Should I have sex, try drugs/alcohol, take this problem into my own hands, and what is my sexual preference — for men or women?

This brings me to Bruce Jenner. Now Caitlyn Jenner, he/she is probably the first transgender to break through the cultural barrier and go coast to coast media-wise. Now expect to see the transgender lifestyle institutionalized in our society the next few years. Add another tough adult question to the mix society is throwing at our children — am I really a male or female?

This is an earth-shattering ratcheting up of the ball of confusion thrown at children — pressing them to question such a fundamental trait as their identity. The situation can’t get any more challenging at that. Children are not socially, psychologically and emotionally developed enough to field such profound questions. When you have a baby bird that is trying to grow up, you don’t throw it out in a Category 5 hurricane. You nurture it so it develops unencumbered and fully. More and more children will continue to fumble these adult challenges and be thrown off course into ditches of negative consequences in life.

What are our elected leaders saying and doing about our social decline? The first step in reversing this is first identifying the problem. However, most of our leaders don’t even want to talk about it. They are fearful to say anything.

Alex Saitta