Wednesday, August 27, 2014

From the House

Bluffton Today

The response to my recent three-part series of columns on education issues in Jasper County was overwhelming. This last week, we had well over a hundred folks either stop by the office, call in, or email regarding the series, as well as what appears to be happening on the ground. The mix of people was very interesting in that there were a great many school parents and concerned residents. In addition, there were a good number of people who contributed stories of what worked and what didn’t work in the places where they lived before relocating to our lovely part of the Lowcountry. For me, a good idea is a good idea, even if it originated in Ohio.

I am convinced that there is now a critical mass of the electorate who are informed and engaged on this issue. Regardless of the outcome of the redistricting, there is every reason to believe that the real issues are not going to be sidetracked and replaced with the old Jasper politics. Anyone paying even a small bit of attention now understands that there is a strong linkage between the quality of public education and the economic success of the region. As my good friend, Jasper County Councilwoman Barbara Clark told me: “It’s not about what race, color, creed or the family a kid comes from, it’s simply about the kid.” For me, that about sums it up. We can play these political games, or we can get serious, and do the hard work of bringing this system into the 21st century.

The delegation does not have jurisdiction directly over the school board or the school district. We can, however, help to make certain that the electoral part of the problem is addressed. We can also, in the next session, reform the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) so that reasonable questions about such things as methodology, measurement of outcomes, or even where and how the dollars slated for the schools are spent, have to be answered in a timely fashion. We will also support the growing number of stakeholders, parents, and citizens who have stepped forward and demanded that quality education for our children takes priority over politics as usual. Honestly, the stakes could not be higher.

Back in downtown Bluffton, the Boiled Peanut Festival in the Promenade came off without a hitch. That is, with the possible exception of again underestimating the number of rabid boiled peanut fans who were going to turn up. Even on the hottest day of the year, they sold out of peanuts an hour before the event was over. Nonetheless, Shelly and her crew did an excellent job, with those unable to get their boiled peanut fix, made do with a couple of slices of superb Moon Mi pizza.

Finally, and somewhat on a personal note, there is going to be a benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association at the Promenade from 5 until 8 on Thursday, September 4th. It is called “Paint the Promenade Purple” and will be an old-fashioned pub crawl. Captain Woody’s, Cork’s, Corner Perk, The Infield, Latitude Wine Bar, and Moon Mi Pizza will all have purple specials, prizes and a bunch of fun surprises. The charge is $20 in advance and $25 at the door. For more information, please call 843-415-3211. Please be at least 21 and have ID to prove it.

As the baby boom generation enters retirement age, more and more of our family members will be afflicted by various forms of dementia. Many of us, including our family, are already confronting this heartbreaking situation. Come out and have a fun time with us, while we raise dollars to push back against this awful cluster of maladies.