Wednesday, November 5, 2014

From the House

Bluffton Today

We had a gratifyingly good turnout last Wednesday at the Jasper County School Board redistricting meeting in Ridgeland. There is another meeting at 6 p.m. in Hardeeville tonight, with another the following Wednesday, November 12th, at the Jasper County Government Building. I want to personally encourage all members of the community to attend, and make your views on this important issue heard.


There was a pretty good consensus of opinion at last week’s meeting for the seven-district plan. Even the attorney for the school board had good things to say about that option. We do want to hear from more folks, if not for this option, then for another.


However, I am disappointed that there was an untoward attempt to dilute the local stakeholder opinion by a circulated suggestion that folks outside Jasper should attend the meetings and speak, for the presumed purpose of either influencing the mediator, or to sway the opinions of the legitimate stakeholders in attendance. Published reports have it that the Reverend Joseph Darby, the highly respected and influential pastor and senior elder of the Beaufort district of the A.M.E. church, urged his ministerial colleagues around the Lowcountry to suggest to their parishioners they might want to attend the Jasper meetings. While the Reverend Darby played it off as a joke, it was certainly cringworthy humor, at best.


The redistricting of a severely malapportioned school board map is serious business. This is especially so given the inexcusable and persistent failure of the Jasper School District leadership, who serve at the pleasure of the school board. In my view, also shared by the bulk of the Jasper legislative delegation, the shortcomings of the school system are not separate and apart from the structural deficiency on the school board.
The fact that there is a 62% deviation between the size of the largest and smallest districts, that has been unrepaired for almost a decade, is telling. The bunker mentality of the current board, with their flagrant disregard for even the basics of transparency and fairness, is also a telling feature.


As to Reverend Darby’s alleged joke, I am at a loss as to how such an esteemed community leader could align himself with the interests of a status quo that seems designed to diminish those who have the very least to lose. Education is the great equalizer in this country. With a good education, doors open. Without an education, all doors are closed.
There is a political dimension to public education, whether we like it or not. The Jasper delegation is attempting to allow the voices of the school parents and the other stakeholders of good will to be heard, to be able to have a say in the prospects of success for their children and their community. We don’t need more political mischief.


Next Sunday, the 9th of November, is a day many of us have been looking forward to for a long time. The 7th annual Taste of Waddell is happening on the gorgeous high bluff overlooking the Colleton/Okatie on the grounds of the Waddell Mariculture Center at the end of Sawmill Creek Road in Greater Bluffton.


From 3 to 7 p.m., we will enjoy shrimp three ways by incredible chef Michael Sigler. Bluffton Town Councilman Larry Toomer and his lovely wife Tina , from the Bluffton Oyster Company, will have steaming buckets of Bluffton oysters. You will also get a chance to hear from my pal Al Stokes about the ongoing renovations to the installation, as well as their new, cool water science.


The charge is $30, which does not include oysters or wine and beer. The sunset, which is free, is more than worth the tariff.


Mary and I, along with Weston and Rose, look forward to seeing you.
Call 785-4106 or email www.friendsofwaddell.org for reservations.