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910, 2014

Common Sense Prevails

By |October 9th, 2014|Education|Comments Off on Common Sense Prevails

In case you haven’t heard about this situation in Spartanburg County, the following are some excerpts from a Palmetto Family Council newsletter to catch you up:
It was two years ago that we celebrated the successful passage of the “SC Interscholastic Activities Act.” This new law gave Governor’s School, Charter School and Home School students the right to play for their local public school athletics teams and to participate in school activities like band, chorus, orchestra, ROTC, chess club, etc. South Carolina finally joined 28 or so other states that recognized that Governor’s, Charter, and Home School students were the children of taxpayers and that having such an option for all kids can be good for a community.

One of those home school students who has benefited from the new law is Andrew Mitchell, a young man living in the northern part of Spartanburg County who was able to make the Landrum High School Cardinals basketball team.

But, between this year and last, Andrew’s family moved a few miles away. That put him in the attendance area of Chapman High School. “No problem,” the school district in essence said, “We’ve had public school choice in Spartanburg District One for over 40 years. Parents can choose any school in the district. Just have Andrew continue at Landrum.”

This was great for Andrew’s family, and for the Landrum team, which had become a true sports home for the young man. In fact, everyone connected in any way to Andrew was strongly supportive of his right to stay at Landrum–the coaches, the principals, and the school district superintendent.

Enter the South Carolina High School League (SCHSL).

The SCHSL Executive Director, head of all public school athletics in South Carolina, denied the district’s request. According […]

609, 2014

Citizens for a Free Market Cuts Radio Spots

By |September 6th, 2014|Education|2 Comments

We cut a radio spot which will air throughout the day this Monday and Tuesday on WORD (106.3) and Conservative Talk 94.5. This video contains the same message as the upcoming radio spots.

509, 2014

Press Release: Emotions Run High on Tax Referendum

By |September 5th, 2014|Education, Press Releases|1 Comment

Emotions Run High on Sept 9 Tax Referendum
Byrnes Student Caught Taking Campaign Signs
Spartanburg, SC (5 Sept 2014) – As of 12:30pm today, the decision was finalized that we will not be pressing charges against a Byrnes High School student who was caught stealing campaign signs.

After receiving numerous reports from the community that students have been taking signs and other materials opposing the $71 million tax increase, two eyewitnesses stepped forward from two different instances, identifying the same vehicle involved in theft this week. The student was later caught in possession of the yard signs which had been taken.

The group Citizens for a Free Market took this tax fight on weeks ago in an attempt to build awareness regarding the use of Special Elections to raise taxes. “We have no desire to see this student or any of the other students involved get prosecuted for the theft of campaign signs,” stated Kerry Wood, Executive Director for Citizens for a Free Market. “It is our belief that these children were either directly or indirectly influenced by others. A prosecution in this matter could kill any chance they may have for scholarships, could harm future employment, prohibit them from holding clearances in government jobs, or even harm their chances of getting into the military. It is our hope that the students of Byrnes obtain a real world education from the events which have taken place, so they may be better prepared for their adult lives.”

Citizens for a Free Market understands that Byrnes High is in need of repair. Our disagreement with District 5 is mainly over the choice to hold a Special Election when the fewest possible people will participate while knowing this has a financial impact […]

409, 2014

Common Core: Price We Pay for Taking Federal Funds

By |September 4th, 2014|Education|14 Comments

The process of replacing Common Core standards in Math and English/Language Arts is well underway. The State Department of Education and the State Board, as provided for in state law, will formulate new South Carolina standards based upon a review by panels of subject experts. Those standards must go to the Education Oversight Committee for its sign off, and then our teachers will begin using them in the 2015-2016 school year.

I think that it may help to revisit exactly what we expect from education standards and why it is important that South Carolina develop those standards instead of outsourcing it to a centralized entity. State law requires that educational standards be designed to promote the abilities to:

(1) Read, view, and listen to complex information in the English language.

(2) Write and speak effectively in the English language.

(3) Solve problems by applying mathematics.

(4) Conduct research and communicate findings.

(5) Understand and apply scientific concepts.

(6) Obtain a working knowledge of world, United States, and South Carolina history, government, economics, and geography.

(7) Use information to make decisions. Standards are developed from this basic framework which became law in 1998. The standards are used in the four core subject areas—math, English/language art, science and social studies (history, government, economics and geography).

South Carolina for over a decade had very good or excellent standards as measured by various entities, and they all were developed right here at home. South Carolina standards always were well regarded for their rigor and depth and many states looked to South Carolina as an example of how standards should be developed. South Carolina standards historically have been developed over a two-year period during which subject experts gathered several times to review current standards and adapt new information to […]

209, 2014

Clarification of the Issue in District 5

By |September 2nd, 2014|Education|3 Comments

The overwhelming majority of people I’ve heard from oppose this tax increase, but I have received a bit of hate mail from those who are for it … telling me I’m crazy, that I don’t care about education, condemning my parents for how they raised me, etc, etc, etc … as I watch those who are for the tax increase use children to help lie, cheat, steal, and vandalize to get their way with this. And I’m the bad guy?

Then I received a post on the Citizens for a Free Market Facebook page from Steve Brockman. I don’t know him, but I believe he sincerely means well and he was at least a gentleman in his post with no name calling, profanity, etc. So here is a point by point rebuttal.

Steve Brockman: “The government closest to the people best serves the people”. (This quote is generally attributed to Thomas Jefferson but has been expressed by many throughout our country’s history). It means that the more local our government, the more accountable, effective and efficient it functions.

Kerry: We are in complete agreement, and I genuinely wish we were not all taxed so heavily from one end of the government spectrum to the other … but wanting the government closest to you to better serve you is still not a justification for raising taxes on people.

Steve Brockman: This is absolutely true in Spartanburg School District Five. We rank #1 out of 85 school districts in South Carolina with money going to the classroom. We have not had an operating tax increase in over five years. Under Act 388, D5 could have increased taxes almost 31 mils (double the current tax referendum) WITHOUT any public vote. If we were so sneaky, […]

3008, 2014

Putting a Price Tag on Education

By |August 30th, 2014|Education|Comments Off on Putting a Price Tag on Education

I receive dozens of calls and emails each day and I try to respond to everyone, whether they agree or disagree with me on something, as long as that person seems rational. If someone doesn’t appear to be grounded in reality, then I typically just ignore them, but David has earned himself an exception to my rule by leaving the following comment on the Citizens for a Free Market website regarding my opposition to the $71 million tax increase.
David Pickren: “Embarrassed that Mr. Wood does not understand the importance of education in our community. I guess Mr. Wood only cares about himself or keeping everyone else uneducated.”
Mr. Pickren, you are making quite a leap in your assumption that I don’t understand the importance of education or that I would care about keeping everyone else uneducated. To the contrary, I am going to take time out of my day (time away from my family) to educate you a bit here today because I do care.

I must start by asking if you have actually taken the time to read anything I’ve written. Where have I ever even discussed education in the fight against this tax increase? Nowhere… and why do suppose that would be? Because it has little to nothing to do with education and everything to do with yet another government entity attempting to take money away from hard working people.

Mr. Pickren, just how much do you suppose the education of the community would improve by spending nearly a million dollars on artificial turf and millions more on the stadium?

And to include the actual school repairs, how would spending $43,000+ per student benefit their education? Why not spend $100,000 or more per student if we are […]

2908, 2014

How to Overcome the Sept 9 Tax Increase

By |August 29th, 2014|Education|5 Comments

Here are a few things you can do to help fight this and other tax increases.

1)      Vote: They are counting on low turnout to get this tax increase passed. The most important thing you can do is take the time to vote.

2)      Network: Tell your friends, family, neighbors what’s going on. Let them know they are going to be hit with another tax increase if they don’t go vote “NO” to this one. You should all text, email, and/or call each other on or Election Day to remind to vote.

3)      LTE: Write letters to the Editor explaining why you are opposed to this. Do not muddy the waters by bringing in other issues that aren’t related – make certain you stick to your topic. 300 words or less emailed to: opinions@shj.com and include name, address, and phone number.

4)      Homeowners Association: Contact as many Homeowners Associations in District five that you can and encourage them to get the word out in their neighborhood.

5)      Businesses: Know any business owners in District Five? Encourage them to put a sign or stack of fliers in their business – we will provide the sign and fliers – just send an email to me@kerrywood.com.

6)      Work your own neighborhood. We will be happy to give you fliers and signs to work your own neighborhood. Put a sign in your yard and encourage a few of your neighbors to do the same.

7)      Join us: Visit www.CitizensForAFreeMarket.org for information on this tax increase.

8)      Like us: Join our efforts to stop this practice of having Special Elections to raise taxes. Like us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/citizensforafreemarket

2508, 2014

78 Tons of Money

By |August 25th, 2014|Education|2 Comments

Who wouldn’t like to have $71,000,000? Can you imagine all the fun you could have, and good you could do, if you had that much right now in your bank account? Perhaps your family, friends, and neighbors can all just kick in a chunk and help you get it? Can you imagine what they would say if you asked them?

One problem is that our media and government toss out numbers like this all the time and most people really never put any thought into how much an amount like this really is.

$908,000 in single dollar bills weighs one full ton. Byrnes is asking for 78 tons of money.

Stacked in a single column, $71 million would reach nearly 5 miles into the sky.

Laid end-to-end, $71 million would stretch 6,857 miles (it’s 4,350 miles from Byrnes to Anchorage, Alaska).

Does any of this help in understanding the volume of money ONE school is asking for? How about some more practical applications?

South Carolina has some of the most dangerous roads in the country, yet our highway patrol has been cut from more than 920 officers down to the current 785 officers. $71 million would not just hire back the missing troopers but would fully fund them for more than a decade.

Do you think our roads are bad? According to SC DOT, with $71 million, they could preserve 3,621 lane miles, rehabilitate 568 lane miles, or reconstruct 355 lane miles (let those figures sink in as you consider it is approximately 200 miles from the Upstate to Charleston).

If we were to pay Labor Union rates for construction, $71 million would build a brand new school with nearly a half million square feet.

What about the teachers? This would pay salaries for […]

2408, 2014

What it means to be a Rebel

By |August 24th, 2014|Education, Taxes|2 Comments

There is much propaganda being used in an attempt to get the people of School District 5 to part with $71 million hard earned dollars so a single school can play keep up with the Joneses at taxpayer expense. This is real money that people actually have to work for in order to turn it over to a government entity. We’ve received reports that high school students (who have apparently been duped by the propaganda) are walking into places which are providing information about this tax increase and basically stealing all the handout materials.

I guess they feel like they are being rebellious?

I wonder if perhaps they fail to grasp the concept of how to be a rebel in this situation. These days it is very normal for the government to tax us more. These days it is very normal for them to find sneaky ways to get us to approve our own increases.

I wonder if these students understand that there are business owners in the school district who cannot vote in this election because they don’t reside in District 5, and others are going to make a decision for them to have their taxes increased? Do you think these students realize the same thing is actually being done to them? After all, most of them are not able to vote, but most have or will have cars (and other property) in the near future and the tax will still be there and they will still be paying out of their own pockets years from now.

Yes, I think they miss the point on what it means to be a rebel in this situation. Instead they are acting as an advocate for a government agency and there […]

1808, 2014

Taxing You More for What?

By |August 18th, 2014|Education|1 Comment

Someone told me last week that those of us (fiscally responsible adults) who oppose this Sneaky Way to Raise Your Taxes are being called “naysayers.” To begin with, I didn’t care a lot about how much they were raising taxes or how the money was to be spent. I am, however, fundamentally opposed to more taxes and debt and particularly disturbed by the underhanded way they are going about forcing this on the people of School District Five.

So what should we call those who are in favor of more taxes and debt? Here’s a little food for thought on that:

Those pushing this are spinning out every reason they can in an attempt to make people “feel good” about taking on more debt and taxes. They say they need the money because they are expecting a 500 student increase over the next few years. This is the “it’s for the children” argument which is an attempt to paint anyone who disagrees as someone who dislikes children while making people feel good about taking even more of their earned income and giving it to the government. That would work out to $142,000 per student if that were the case. If you could build 500 nice family homes for that amount of money, how could it possibly cost this much in commercial construction to make room for 500 new students?

The other thing they are spinning out is regarding everything this football team has done for the community. Another feel good argument and who wants to oppose Byrnes Football?

So what are they really using the money for? It’s really difficult to tell looking at the documentation District Five has published.  The$ 71 million debt is allocated to several phases […]