A Red Letter Day!

Yesterday was a “Red Letter Day” at Camden High School.  For the first time in the school’s storied athletic history, track athletes and members of other spring sports teams had a real track to practice and run on.  It was a wonderful sight to see!!!  The warm weather yesterday afternoon made it even better!

“100 Books In 100 Minutes”

I had a super time at Doby’s Mill Elementary this morning participating in “100 Books in 100 Minutes” in recognition of the 100th day of school.  I was joined by a large number of parents and other community members reading to groups of three kindergarten students. A very cool and imaginative activity to promote reading!!  Kudos to Doby’s Mill media specialist Betsy Long!!  Also, special thanks to Camden Mayor Jeffrey Graham and Representative Laurie Funderburk for taking time from their very busy schedules to participate.

Darlene Cantey Recognized

A very nice article in this morning’s State about the recent honor received by Camden Elementary teacher Darlene Cantey:

http://www.thestate.com/2012/01/28/2131207/educator-recognized-for-love-of.html

Weekly Legislative Update

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

On Tuesday and Wednesday, January 24 and 25, the Ways and Mean Public Education and Special Schools Subcommittee met to receive budget requests.   John de la Howe, SC School for the Deaf and Blind, Wil Lou Gray, Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities and the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics were the agencies that appeared before the committee.

 The House K-12 Education Subcommittee will meet next Wednesday, February 1, at 9:00 in the Blatt Building.

SENATE

The Senate K-12 Education Subcommittee met on Wednesday, January 25th, and reviewed the following bills and regulations:

S.107 (GED testing for Senior Citizens) The bill states that no time limit be imposed on senior citizens taking the GED.  The bill was carried over until more information is obtained or verified.  While a person with a documented disability can request additional time to take a test, age is not included in the list of what constitutes a disability.

S.511 (Cheerleading Requirements) The bill directs the SC High School League to only allow a student who is enrolled in a SC public or private school in grades nine (9) through twelve (12) to participate in any high school cheerleading program, including a competitive cheer program.  After much discussion, the bill was carried over in order to amend some language and allow the Senators to talk with school officials in their home districts.  Sen. Wes Hayes chairs the subcommittee.  The subcommittee members are Senators Matthews, Rankin, Fair, Peeler, Leventis, Grooms, Malloy, Lourie and Davis.

S.1001 (Equal Access to Interscholastic Activities for Military Children Act) The bill allows a child of an active member of the armed forces who attends school in a school district and lives with a resident of the district other than a parent of a child   pursuant to a power of attorney, court order, or military family care plan is entitled to participate in any interscholastic activity offered by the school regardless of whether the child ever resided in the district with a parent of the child.  After much discussion, the bill received a favorable report and will be sent to the full education committee.

State Board of Education Regulations (The regulations were reviewed and received a favorable report.)

Document 4199 (Adult Education Program) Replaces regulation 43-237.1 with is the adult education program.  The regulation change mirrors proviso 1A.39.  that deals with the appropriation of adult education funds in the EIA.  The proviso has been in existence for 2-3 years.

 Document 4200 (End-of-Course Test) Amends regulation 43-262.4 so that students who take two courses based on the same academic standards for which there is an end-of-course test would take the test for the first course and the score would count as 20% of the final grade.  If the student passes the first course, the second course would not be a gateway course for that student.  The students would not take an end-of-course test for the second course and the student’s final grade would be calculated without an end-of-course score.

Document 4208 (At-Risk Students) Amends regulation R.43.274.1, At-Risk Students, to change the South Carolina Department of Education’s acronym to SCDE, change the references to the statewide student information system from SASI to PowerSchool, and note the use of the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (PASS), rather than PACT, as one of several assessments used to diagnose academic difficulties.

“First In Math” At Pine Tree Hill

I am unbelievably impressed with what Pine Tree Hill Elementary School is doing with the “First in Math” program.  “First in Math” is an interactive computerized program that allows students to work on math skills at increasing levels of difficulty and compete with students and schools througout South Carolina and the nation.  When I arrived at the school at about 7:20 this morning, two full computer labs of students were hard at work, and when it was time to their classrooms, the students wanted to keep going.  As of today, Pine Tree Hill is ranked fifth in the state, and I am confident that the Bullpups will be first before long.  I was really taken by the energy and enthusiasm of the students and staff.  Great stuff!!!

Thursday Evening Highlights

Had a truly enjoyable, and productive, Thursday evening….I got to spend some time at Lugoff Elementary School reading to students and their parents at “Campfire Reading Night.”  I got to read an “Amelia Bedelia” book.  I’ve loved that series since my own now grown kid was a first grader.  Kudos to the Lugoff Elementary team for putting together a fun family activity that focuses on reading!!!

Also had great meeting with Parent Cabinet, a group of parents representing all of our schools.  I got some very insightful comments about the budget and legislation impacting education that is being considered by the General Assembly.  Thanks to Baron DeKalb Principal Betty Turner for allowing us to have the meeting at her school.

“Hooked On Politics”

Thanks and kudos to Teacher Forum for bringing Kathy Maness of the Palmetto State Teacher’s Association to Kershaw County this past Tuesday afternoon to talk about the impact of the political process on education.  A good-sized audience of teachers was present, and I believe they got a very accurate picture of the issues under consideration at the General Assembly that have tremendous implications for public education in our state, including budget, the retirement system, school choice/tax credits, merit pay, and a number of other areas.  The point that Ms. Maness made time and again was the importance of contacting legislators about areas of concern and interest.  Teacher Forum will be meeting with members of our local delegation on February 9, and this session was excellent preparation.