Adult Education Graduation

I was pleased and honored and inspired to be a part of Thursday evening’s Adult Education ceremony.  I love this ceremony because it celebrates the accomplishments of people who persisted even though school didn’t work out the first time for them.  I was especially moved by the student speakers, Anna-Nicole Gambrell, April Hall, Shiquan Portee, and Joe Brown.  I also deeply appreciated Representative Laurie Funderburk and  Central Carolina Technical College President Tim Hardee being there.  Over 80 individuals have received GEDs or diplomas this year through our Adult Education program.  For a district our size, this is simply outstanding!  Many thanks to Director Weyland Burns and his staff for making all of this happen!

Survey On State Testing

 As part of the process to choose new statewide tests, the SC Department of Education is conducting a survey of stakeholders to receive feedback about the whole issue of state testing.  While I have strong concerns about adopting a new testing program before the whole standards issue is stabilized, the survey is a good opportunity for people to weigh in.  The survey is at the link below.  I hope our community will actively participate.


Lori Cooper In United Way Campaign Video

At a United Way Board meeting today, I got a huge kick out of seeing Camden Middle School teacher Lori Cooper appear in the new campaign video.  She did a super job of spoofing television cook Rachel Ray!  Folks in the community are really going to enjoy this!

Dr. Jean Pruett

I was saddened to hear of the passing of longtime Camden High School English teacher Dr. Jean Pruett.  Dr. Pruett enriched the lives of countless students during her career, and continued to enrich our community after her retirement through her columns in the Chronicle-Independent. They were always a “must read” for me!  Dr.  Pruett will be missed in countless ways.

It Felt A Little Like Christmas!

It was most enjoyable for me to spend time over at Blaney Elementary this morning as the students picked out books to take home for the summer.  Blaney principal Ed Yount was able to take advantage of a state grant to get books.  You could feel the excitement in the media center!  It felt a little like Christmas!

Friday And Saturday

I had a bunch of fun joining the second graders at Jackson School on Friday as they released butterflies that they had observed through the various stages of development. The excitement was energizing! I was absolutely amazed at how much the students had learned.

I also enjoyed stopping by the “Little Demon Football Camp” over at Lugoff-Elgin High on Saturday morning. Lots of energy and enthusiasm from the young players! I was particularly impressed with the patient and positive way the LEHS football players were working with the campers. This is how the future is built.

Legislative Update – May 23, 2014

The Republican candidate debate for superintendent of education will be televised on Tuesday, May 27th, from 7 to 8 p.m.  The debate will be televised by ETV and feature the eight Republican candidates.  The Republican candidates are Sally Atwater, Gary Burgess, Meka Childs, Amy Cofield, Sheri Few, Don Jordan, Elizabeth Moffly, and Molly Mitchell Spearman.

The Board of Economic Advisors revised their revenue forecast for the budget that takes effect on July 1.  The revision includes additions of $60.9M to the general fund, $18.6M to the lottery money and $6.3M to EIA. The additional money will allow legislators a little more flexibility with the Senate and House budget priorities.

As the session winds down, the House and Senate have turned their attention to their respective calendars and are spending more time on the floor. There were no committee meeting held this week pertaining to education policy.


The House adjourned debate on the state appropriations bill and S.516 (Read to Succeed) until Tuesday, May 27th.

S.940 (Education Capital Improvements Sales and Use Tax) The bill allows a county that does not collect a certain amount in accommodations tax to impose the sales tax so long as no portion of the county area is subject to more than two percent total sales tax.  Currently, the Education Capital Improvements Sales and Use Tax is limited to use by only Horry County and Charleston County school districts.  The bill was amended in the Senate to include 11 additional districts. The House Subcommittee amended it to include multi-district counties.  The bill received third reading as amended.

S.1219 ((Negotiated salaries)  The joint resolution allow school districts to uniformly negotiate salaries below the school district salary schedule for 2014-15 through the 2019-2020 school year for retired teachers who are not participants in the Teacher and Employee Retention Incentive program. The provisions of this section expire on July 1, 2020. The bill was recalled from Ways and Means and placed on the calendar.

S.1194 (Summer Reading Camps) The joint resolution allows districts to meet the requirements of the 2014 summer reading camps by using summer reading program funds in the current budget year to partner with the State Department of Education’s Summer Reader Loss Prevention Project.  The partnership must provide school districts with books to set up free book fairs for summer reading camp-identified students.  The students must be allowed to select eight books based on their reading ability level and interest.  The book fair must be held at the end of the school year with students taking their books home for the summer accompanied with a reading log to be completed by the student.  Also, a school district that uses these funds for the partnership may carry forward any unexpended funds to be used for summer reading camp programs. The joint resolution was signed by Governor Haley.

H. 4871 (Charter Schools) The bill exempts charter schools from all state and local taxation, except for sales tax, on their earnings and property whether owned or leased.  The House concurred with the Senate amendment and the bill was enrolled for ratification.

H.3893 (Common Core) The House concurred with the Senate amendments and the bill was enrolled for ratification.


Continued implementation of Common Core State Standards in ELA and math in 2014-15

Requires cyclical review of Common Core on or before January 1, 2015 for purpose of adopting SC college and career readiness state standards in 2015-2016. (Review will seek input on additions, changes, etc. to Common Core)


  • Removes SC from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and Smarter Balanced Assessment and prevents SC from administering Smarter Balanced Assessment
  • Continues WorkKeys and college and career readiness assessment in grade 11
  • Amends administration of PASS in science and social studies to all students in grades 4 through 8 beginning 2014-15
  • Establishes process for moving forward with state assessment in grades 3 through 8 in ELA and math for all students in grades 3 through 8 and for students in grades 9 and 10, if funds are available:

2014-15           Paper and pencil format

2015-16           Paper and pencil or computer format

2016-17           Computer format for all students

Executive Director of the Budget and Control Board will handle procurement that must be completed by September 30, 2014 for all assessments including the college and career readiness assessment. Neither the EOC nor State Board of Education will approve the assessment. Instead, a special panel composed of the following persons or their designee to provide input:

  • § chairman of the State Board of Education;
  • § chairman of the Education Oversight Committee;
  • § chairman of the Board of Directors for the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce;
  • § chairman of the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education;
  • § chairman of the South Carolina Technical College System Board; and
  • § State Superintendent of Education.


  • New Assessments implemented in 2014-15 and 2015-16 cannot be used to determine state ratings. Instead, the report cards issued for 2014-15 and 2015-16 will report on results only.
  • EOC will also recommend one system for state and federal accountability by fall of 2016.

Student Privacy

  • Establishes Data Use and Governance Policy to guarantee student privacy


H. 4921 (Negotiated salaries)  The joint resolution allow school districts to uniformly negotiate salaries below the school district salary schedule for the 2014-15 school year for retired teachers who are not participants in the Teacher and Employee Retention Incentive program. The joint resolution was signed by Governor Haley.

However, the full Senate Education Committee will meet Wednesday, May 28th at 10:00 and review the following bills:

H. 4061 (Sexual Abuse and Assault Awareness) The bill requires the State Board of Education to select or develop instructional units in sexual abuse and sexual assault awareness and prevention with separate units appropriate for each age level from four-year old kindergarten through twelfth grade.

H. 4914 (Students with a seizure condition) The bill authorizes certain school personnel to administer midazolam intranasally to students with a seizure condition. The bill also provides for immunity from liability with regard to administration of midazolam.

H. 4840 (High School Equivalency Diploma Accessibility Act) The bill requires that the State Board of Education to offer an alternative to the GED for individuals looking to receive a high school equivalency diploma. The bill was amended to include language that the test may be computer-based or offered in paper and pencil form.

H. 4458 (Winter holidays) The bill provides that a district may educate students about the history, customs and symbols of traditional winter celebrations including displaying scenes traditional associated with such celebrations.  The bill also states that students and staff may offer holiday greetings such as “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah.”

H. 3905 (Back to Basics in Education Act of 2013) The bill requires that students are taught cursive writing and memorization of multiplication tables by the end of fifth grade.  The bill was amended to add cursive writing materials to the instructional materials adoption list.

H. 4650 (Proficiency-based credits) The bill requires the State Board of Education to establish an optional proficiency-based system as an alternative to traditional seat-time requirements. Normal requirements of 120 seat hours would not apply to credits earned through a proficiency-based course. Example courses include distance learning, online learning, independent study, etc. The system must be optional for each school district.

H.3435 (Comprehensive Health Education Act) The bill greatly alters the comprehensive health education programs implemented by school districts. The bill would require reproductive health instruction to be medically accurate, while changing the grade levels at which this instruction would be offered. Under the bill, students must receive 12.5 hours of health education instruction during the ninth or tenth grade. The State Board of Education would be required to develop a health instruction unit every two years, and districts would be required to use the unit unless the district develops its own health instruction unit annually. Additional changes include the teaching of contraceptive methods in relation to pregnancy and disease prevention, rather than just future family planning. Also, the bill would remove the restriction that male and female students must be taught this information separately. Teachers providing comprehensive health instruction would undergo professional development in either reproductive health or pregnancy prevention every two years, and have a certificate in health education by August 1, 2016. In order to ensure compliance, each district would have to send an annual report to the State Department of Education by June 15.

The following bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee:

H.3532 (Childcare Providers) The bill directs the Citizen and Legislative Joint Committee on Children in conjunction with the Governor’s Child Care Advisory Board to hold public hearing and collect data on child care regulations.

Great Job By Teacher Forum

Our Teacher Forum did a terrific job putting on a very professional and informative forum for State Superintendent candidates….Thanks to everyone who made this happen.  Special thanks to Judi Gatson from WIS for serving as moderator.  She was phenomenal!  A proud evening for our district!

Elementary School Robotics

Had a terrific time over at Jackson School this morning watching the robotics teams from all of our elementary schools demonstrate  their lego robots.  Saw some absolutely outstanding stuff!  What was especially cool for me was to see kids from everywhere in our county learning and sharing together.  It was also great to have the middle and high school kids from the Kershaw County Robotics Team there to show off the bigger robot.  Big kudos to the teachers who worked with these teams and to Tim Hopkins from the district staff who got the grant to make this program possible.  (It was also nice to see that the tables the teams used for their lego robots were made by students at ATEC.)

SC Secretary Of Commerce Speaks In Kershaw County

I had the opportunity today to hear South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt speak to local business and governmental leaders about economic development in our state.  I was most interested in the important place he sees education as having in terms of promoting and growing investment in South Carolina.  Good to hear.