Leading up to Veterans Day, we have much to be grateful for. As someone with two brothers serving in our military, I have seen first hand the commitment required by the servicemen and women and their families, and it is truly incredible. To all who serve and to their families, a very heartfelt thank you.
Continuing the Veterans Statewide Training Initiatives
In the same vein, my staff and I are working hard to keep the promise to help our veterans once they return from duty. After a great first round of veteran job training workshops last month, we will be hosting another set of workshops in November focusing on transferring military skills and certifications to the civilian world.
On November 13, there will be events in Florence and St. Matthews, on November 18, there will be one in Beaufort, and on Wednesday, November 19, the final November workshop will be in Conway. You can find more information here, and the gold stars on the map below indicate upcoming events!
Fighting for Education
Education was the force that turned my life around and allowed me to achieve far more than I ever thought was possible. My goal is to make sure that all Americans have access to a great education, no matter their zip code. I discussed the importance of access to education on Morning Joe earlier this week—you can watch click here!
It is an incredible honor to represent the people of South Carolina, and I will continue working on education and other ways to increase opportunity for South Carolinians and all Americans.
Please do not hesitate to contact my office with questions, suggestions, concerns if we can ever be of service to you.
Tim’s Offices statewide
2500 City Hall Lane, 3rd Floor Suite
North Charleston, SC 29406
T (843) 727-4525
F (855) 802-9355
1301 Gervais Street, Suite 825
Columbia, SC 29201
T (803) 771-6112
F (855) 802-9355
40 W. Broad Street, Suite 320
Greenville, SC 29601
T (864) 233-5366
F (855) 802-9355
167 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
T (202) 224-6121
F (202) 228-5143
The very first qualification to be designated as a “member in good standing” and therefore be able to serve as precinct officer as well as state convention delegate is having paid your annual dues.
Dues are due during April. The amount due is the same this year as last—$35.00.
They can be paid online at Charlestongop.org. Once on the site, choose “DUES” and choose to use your PayPal account or the credit card alternative offered. IF POSSIBLE, INCLUDE YOUR PRECINCT INFORMATION.
They can be paid by cash or check at the county meeting by handing your payment to one of the leaders. BE SURE TO GIVE YOUR PRECINCT INFORMATION.
Checks can also be mailed to me at 1551 Ben Sawyer Blvd., unit 1i, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464. AGAIN, PRECINCT INFO PLEASE.
Thank you in advance for your timely cooperation and your loyal support.
Roger O’Sullivan, Treas.
704 547 4011
Shareholders’ Annual Review & Rating
It’s hard to believe we’re already a month into 2014, but it has indeed been a busy first month! Before we go too much further, just as businesses give their shareholders an annual review of their performance, I wanted to share an “end of the year” review of all that we worked on in the months we have had in Washington.
Here are a few of the debates and issues that have marked our time in DC since May:
• The Ryan-Murray budget deal: In December, Congress passed a budget deal which was followed by an omnibus spending bill just a few weeks ago. Both agreements removed tools for financial discipline that were already in place, while increasing spending now and promising to pay for it later. I wasn’t convinced that this was the best approach, and opposed both pieces of legislation.
• The government shutdown: The shutdown was in many ways the biggest news story in Washington over the last couple of months. I laid out my concerns with the broken budget process in Congress and the constitutional implications of the way the Affordable Health Care Act was being implemented in a few newsletters (which you can read here and here). I also objected to Congress writing the White House a blank check for raising the debt ceiling, and spoke on the House floorabout my concerns that the executive branch was overstepping its authority in a number of ways during the shutdown.
• The NSA and civil liberties: As information has trickled out over the last few months about ways the National Security Agency is overstepping their Constitutional limits, I took action and introduced a bill with over 30 of my colleagues that would bring reform to the NSA. I also joined the fight to protect civil liberties by signing on to an amicus brief requesting the release of secret court opinions regarding surveillance requests, and co-sponsored the LIBERT-E Act and the USA Freedom Act.
• The Farm Bill: Over the summer, the House took up a new Farm Bill which sought to eliminate direct subsidies to farmers, but the resulting crop insurance program could end up costing taxpayers a whole lot more because crop prices are at historic highs – when they drop to the average from here, taxpayers will be on the hook. In the first few weeks of 2014, Congress again took up this issue, and I wrote here about why I still don’t think this final version of the Farm Bill went far enough in addressing this and other problems.
• Flood insurance: Many in the Lowcountry have contacted me regarding how reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program made by the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 are going to affect them. In most cases, the changes in premiums have been sudden and drastic, leading myself and others in Congress to work towards reforming the program. While Biggert-Waters was well-intentioned, I think the government needs to give people time to adapt to these sorts of changes. To this end, I co-sponsored the Homeowner’s Flood Insurance Affordability Act because it provided a path to continue the conversation about how to mitigate these effects while still bringing needed change to the NFIP.
• Syria: When questions arose over the use of force in Syria in early September, I spoke out against it (click here and here to see those interviews) and signed onto legislation that would require the executive branch to consult with Congress before taking any military actions.
• WRRDA: I supported the Water Resources Reform and Development Actbecause it took important steps not only for infrastructure, but for ensuring that Congress, not the executive branch, is in charge of determining spending priorities. The bill passed without earmarks and was a good first step toward building a strong system for developing and funding projects like the harbor deepening at the Port of Charleston.
• Local Issues: Though it’s been a point of some contention over the last few weeks, I ultimately think the idea of representation means hearing from the people you work for and being active and vocal on the issues they care about. As such, after hearing overwhelmingly from people all around the Lowcountry, I voiced my opposition to removing the trees on I-26 and to giving special treatment to one business over others as we’re seeing with the proposed Bass Pro Shops in North Charleston.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list of the many things we worked on over the last few months, I think it touches upon some of the particularly relevant issues to the Lowcountry. There are many issues we’ll be grappling with ahead, many of which the President touched on in his State of the Union last Tuesday night. While I was encouraged to see that we share some common themes, I wrote here about my concerns that the President is taking all too short a view of our nation’s financial future.
Ultimately, however, that’s a conversation for another newsletter! In the meantime, if you have thoughts on what we’ve been working on or any questions or concerns, please reach out by emailing me here. Also in this year, I want to do a better job of connecting with the people I represent, and for that reason, I’d hope that you’d forward this newsletter along to your friends or family who may be interested! If this newsletter was passed along to you, you can sign up to get my monthly newsletter by clicking here.
Mark SanfordBeaufort Office
710 Boundary Street, Suite 1D
Beaufort, SC 29902
Phone: (843) 521-2530
Fax: (843) 521-2535
Mt. Pleasant Office
530 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. #201
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
Phone: (843) 352-7572
Fax: (843) 352-7620
Washington, DC Office
322 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3176
Fax: (202) 225-3407
LETTER TO EDITOR –POST AND COURIER
Re:The op ed article posted by Miss Strauss in your December 27th edition.
Miss Strauss has attempted to clarify some of the mysteries surrounding common core (CCSS), but has fallen short on supporting information on some of her assertions.
On myth #1: The standards were written by a co. named Achieve, Inc. who received a grant of $60 million from the Gates Foundation to do so. To create the appearance of state and local education involvement Achieve enlisted the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) as partners in name only. These two are trade associations having no grant of authority from the states to be involved in standards writing of any kind. The connection was easily made by Achieve’s president Michael Cohen who worked for the (NGA) from 1985 to 1990. Mr Cohen also worked for the US Department of Education (USDoE) from 1990 to 2003.
The US Board of Education (USDoE) began offering Race to The Top (RTTP) grants before any standards were drafted revealing their direct knowledge, support and involvement in the project. And now, the USDoE makes naked threats to cut off $billions in title I funds if states do not toe the mark in implementing CCSS. And it was the USDoE who paid two assessment companies closely tied to Achieve, Inc. $360 million to help write the standards and to create the assessment tests to measure compliance and student (teacher) performance.
To say the Federal Government is not deeply involved in this takeover of state education is misinformed at best and naïve at worst.
On Myth #2: I concur. Resistance is coming from every direction. And this is because the program is deeply flawed. There were no teachers or education professors present when the CCSS were written behind closed doors. The standards as written (and for the first time in history copyrighted by NGA and CCSSO) have been weakened instead of made more rigorous. Members of the validation committee who were recruited to review and approve the standards refused to certify them. Prof. Sandra Stotsky (author of the renowned Massachusetts state standards) stated that the english language arts standards would result in 12th grade graduating students reading at a seventh grade level. Professor James Millgram (math professor at Stanford University) similarly would not certify, stating that the (CCSS) mathematics standards would set students in America two years behind competing higher level countries by the eighth grade.
On myth #3: I concur that the assessment tests will fall far short of expectations, but not for lack of money. The USBoE has paid the two testing consortiums a total of $360 million to develop the tests. And the testing entities even sat in on the closed door standard writing sessions. The tests are to be “computer adaptive”. That means that the way one answers questions on the fly, changes the future questions presented. This to adapt the test to the students’ abilities. Highly complicated endeavors.
This also means that the tests given to various students will be essentially different tests. So much for comparability among any groups of students let alone comparability among states.
On Myth #4: The facts are correct, but the conclusions drawn fall a bit short. The reading of one dimensional materials (manuals, reports, government documents, menus, song lyrics, etc.) deprive students of materials through which they learn to read critically and TO WRITE INTELLIGENTLY. Flat word reading contains no complex sentence formations which need to be learned for use later as material for the students’ composition work. There is no hyperbole or double entendre or allusions or alliterations, etc in manuals or government documents. Moreover, passing government documents through the reading requirements opens up a potential “propaganda pipeline” for use by the unscrupulous.
On Myth #5: CCSS will not save money for anyone. The latest estimate of new costs for states to fully implement CCSS is $16 billion over 7 years, $7 billion on tech. costs in the first two years. Whence the interest from the Gates Foundation??? These are all UNFUNDED MANDATES. The comparable costs for South Carolina are $275million and $154 million.
We all truly appreciate Ms Strauss writing on the topic and hope she will continue to research and publish in the near future.
Roger O’Sullivan, Chairman
Greater Charleston Parents Involved in Education
Ben Sawyer Blvd, Mt Pleasant, SC
It has been revealed that the South Carolina Retirement System Investment Commission has been failing to serve the interests of the retirees of South Carolina. This pension board pay the highest percentage of fees in the country, which ultimately could cost both retirees and taxpayers.
Last year alone, South Carolina spent $427.5 in fees, which is three-times the national average. These fees, say the commissioners, are to have higher quality investments that will help the state. However, the Commission’s results are poor – regularly performing in the bottom 20% of public pensions terms of performance. This lack of judgment and oversight in the Commission is leaving South Carolinians with the bill. If these troubles continue, South Carolina’s retirees will be stuck with pensions smaller than they were promised, and current retirees will have to pay more for the same benefits.
Finally, South Carolina’s $17.3 billion in unfunded liabilities will continue to grow. The source of these problems is an unworkable structure and lack of oversight on the Investment Commission. The commissioners, especially Chairman Reynolds Williams, have absolute control over the nearly $27 billion dollars. The Commission operates independently of the State Treasurer, Governor, or any other body that could bring some valuable oversight to their actions. We need the Senate Finance Committee to grow the voice of the people by passing serious and meaningful reforms to the Commission.
Senator Kevin Bryant, (I say this as a fan of Senator Bryant) among others, needs to understand how unaccountable this pension board is to the people of South Carolina. Certainly, Sen. Bryant would not charge customers at his pharmacy three times the average price for an inferior prescription. Therefore, Mr. Bryant should extend the same courtesy to the hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians that are dependent on the performance of the state’s pension fund. Only when Senator Bryant and other members of the Senate Finance Committee support real reforms will South Carolinians finally get relief from the Commission’s irresponsible investments.
Kevin S ThomasChairmanFairfield County Republican Party
used with permission
When I was growing up, my now 93-year-old grandfather would hold the paper – just right, in plain view – at the breakfast table every day. He looked like an executive, or a doctor, or an attorney, hoping an impressionable young man would see the benefit of education.
But my grandfather could not read. The circumstances of life forced him out of a segregated classroom in the third grade to a cotton field so he could help support his family.
He has now lived long enough to see a grandson elected to Congress, and a great-grandson graduate from Georgia Tech and start graduate school at Duke.
That is the power of opportunity in America. In a single lifetime, families can go from not being given a fair chance to read to graduating from college. We only need a level playing field to start from, a fair chance to succeed, and an appreciation for education and hard work.
Last week, I rode a public bus through Charleston. It is clear people are hurting. I consistently hear deeply personal and unique stories of struggle as I travel our state. People want to work, they want to get ahead and they want a better life for their children and grandchildren. They want to believe the greatest of all America’s promises: that life will be better for those who come after me if I do right.
America was built and is still being built by folks just like this. They stand up in the face of adversity and create a better life from it.
The questions for those of us in government are simple: Are we part of the solution or part of the problem? Are we an ally in this struggle to get ahead, or do we unwittingly make it more difficult? Are we trying the same tactics with the same results?
Those results – not motives – are worthy of challenge. After 50 years of a government-led “War on Poverty,” poverty rates are increasing. Our country faces a poverty rate of 15 percent as 46.5 million Americans live in poverty. Those numbers represent significant increases from 2008, when 39.8 million were living in poverty. In 1974, the poverty rate was 11.2 percent. These numbers reflect a hard truth: Regardless of intentions, government-centric efforts to alleviate poverty simply are not working.
Were this a military conflict we would have changed strategies decades ago. But somehow we fail to learn and continue to believe that if only we spend more, criticize others’ ideas more, and become even more dogmatic about our own perceived solutions, next year will be different. It has not been different in half a century.
So I propose a new way forward: robust initiatives giving our students and workers the greatest chance to succeed – an agenda of opportunity.
In the coming months, I will work with anyone else committed to building a better future to develop bold ideas that break away from our past failures. This includes targeting micro-financing and tax reform to increase economic freedom, expanding school choice so every child has a chance at a quality education, and providing alternatives for single parents to work their 40 hours a week by allowing for wider use of comp time.
I will also work to find ways to help redevelop our poorest areas without pushing current residents out, bring down energy costs that consume a quarter of after-tax income for families making $30,000 or less, help young offenders and those aging out of the foster care system to receive the vital opportunity for education, and ensure our kids who want to attend college can do so without incurring debilitating debt.
With these ideas, and others to come, communities can grow and thrive.
I have lived a family’s journey from cotton to Congress. I know the sense of empowerment and optimism it provides. I know that once the standard is set in a family, a community, a state, that generations to come will set even higher expectations for themselves.
Success is created in studio apartments and garages, at kitchen tables, and in classrooms across the nation – not in government conference rooms in Washington.
It started out innocently enough. I began to think at parties now and then — just to loosen up.
Inevitably, though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker.
I began to think alone — “to relax,” I told myself — but I knew it wasn’t true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time.
That was when things began to sour at home. One evening I turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She spent that night at her mother’s.
I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don’t mix, but I couldn’t help myself.
I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau, Muir, Confucius and Kafka. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, “What is it exactly we are doing here?”
One day the boss called me in. He said, “Listen, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don’t stop thinking on the job, you’ll have to find another job.”
This gave me a lot to think about. I came home early after my conversation with the boss. “Honey,” I confessed, “I’ve been thinking…”
“I know you’ve been thinking,” she said, “and I want a divorce!”
“But Honey, surely it’s not that serious.” “It is serious,” she said, lower lip aquiver.
“You think as much as college professors and college professors don’t make any money, so if you keep on thinking, we won’t have any money!”
“That’s a faulty syllogism,” I said impatiently.
She exploded in tears of rage and frustration, but I was in no mood to deal with the emotional drama.
“I’m going to the library,” I snarled as I stomped out the door.
I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche. I roared into the parking lot with NPR on the radio and ran up to the big glass doors.
They didn’t open. The library was closed.
To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night. Leaning on the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye, “Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?” it asked.
You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinkers Anonymous poster.
This is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker.
I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was “Porky’s.” Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting.
I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking. I think the road to recovery is nearly complete for me.
Today I took the final step…I joined the Democrat Party
State Superintendent Zais Issues Campaign Announcement
Dr. Zais said, “When I ran for this office, I pledged to serve no more than two terms. As it has been for some, my campaign was never a stepping stone to higher office. Rather, it was the culmination of a lifetime of service.”
“As an infantry officer in the United States Army for 31 years, I served my soldiers, my unit, and my country,” said Dr. Zais. “As President of Newberry College, I served my students, my campus, and my Christian faith.”
“And as South Carolina’s State Superintendent of Education, I serve our students, parents, and taxpayers.”
“For the last 45 years of my life, my family has made enormous sacrifices to support my careers, moving around the country and the world many times,” said Dr. Zais. “They mean more to me than anything on this planet.”
“That is why, after much prayer and thoughtful consideration with my family, I have decided not to seek re-election as State Superintendent of Education,” said Dr. Zais.
Dr. Zais added, “This was a very difficult decision. I was preparing for, and looking forward to, a re-election campaign. I’m confident I would have run a strong campaign and would have been re-elected.”
“There remains much work left to be done,” said Dr. Zais. “But the whole conversation about education in South Carolina has changed since I entered office. Then, most were defending the current system, fighting to maintain the status quo. Today, nearly everyone recognizes that the one-size-fits-all system just doesn’t work for far too many students.”
“People often ask me how are we doing in education,” said Dr. Zais. “My response is supporters of the current system defend it at all costs. Others seek to tear it down without looking at the data. The truth lies somewhere between these two extremes.”
Dr. Zais offered some facts for consideration:
- The on-time graduation rate is at its highest level since 2004 – 77.5%.
- The state’s average ACT score is at its highest level ever. And the gap between South Carolina and the national average has never been narrower.
- The Class of 2013 earned $1.15 billion college scholarships – a new record.
Dr. Zais said, “The credit for these accomplishments goes to students and parents, as well as their teachers and principals. These aren’t just statistics. Behind every number is a child with dreams and aspirations. We must never forget this.”
Dr. Zais concluded, “I commit to the public that I will spend each day, until the end of my term, working to transform education. I will continue to visit schools and continue to advocate to the General Assembly on behalf of students, parents, and taxpayers. And I will continue to tell the truth about the state of education in South Carolina.”
Dr. Zais was elected State Superintendent of Education on November 2, 2010. Dr. Zais won the Republican Party primary in a contest with five other Republican candidates. He is the second Republican ever to win election to this office. In the General Election he received 51% of all votes cast, defeating four other candidates and winning a majority of counties. Dr. Zais led his closest competitor, Democrat Frank Holleman, by more than 108,000 votes.