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Letter to the Editor

Shedding light on the SCRG and Shane Massey

web posted November 9, 2007
Dear Editor,

I would like to clear up what I feel is a misconception about the organization which Hixon and Clyburn keep referring to as the "anti-public education group" - the South Carolinians for Responsible Government (SCRG). First here is some background.

Back in the early 1990's my children were attending public school at Meriwether Elem. One child was in 5th, the other in 2nd. David Mathis was principal. He is a good man, and there were many very good teachers at the school. However - there were still problems. During the last two years they were in the public system, we tried to address and work through the problems. It was not the principal, nor the teachers Nor was it us -the parents or the students.... All parties worked together, but it was the system that caused the problems and prevented us from working things out to help my oldest child learn. She was very bright - on the A honor roll, but could not comprehend and retain what she read - and the school was not equipped to teach according to her needs. We researched educational alternatives - private and home schooling. We decided to home school our children. This was a controversial decision - many people did not agree or understand why we did it. But I had already been spending 8 hours every night helping her complete her school work.  She needed one-on-one teaching, so it seemed the only right next step for us. Still this decision was not made without fear and trembling - since we felt this responsibility to be fully on our own shoulders. SC had recently passed new laws concerning home educators. The law acknowledged that the parents of the child are granted SUPREME authority from God - to act in the best interest of that child in ALL  matters regarding that child's education WITHIN the law, AND that home education IS A LEGAL OPTION in the state of South Carolina.

This job was not taken on lightly. The government - and everyone else - was skeptical of home schoolers. We had to complete MORE workload than the public school was required - in order to PROVE that we were actually accomplishing our goals. We had to fill out MORE paperwork to document every dot and tittle, our children had to be tested right along side of the public school children to PROVE that we were doing our jobs as home educators. Even with all of this - SOME public schools in the state of South Carolina - FULLY AWARE that home school families were in compliance of the law - would call the DSS and law enforcement and have children dragged crying from their homes, and parents put in jail for taking their children out of the public schools. The law supported the parents and eventually they were cleared and charges dropped - but not without harm being done to those families in the process.  I'm thankful to say that we didn’t' have this extreme degree of problems in Edgefield County - BUT because it was left up to each COUNTYSCHOOL SYSTEM to decide how to handle home schooling families - at that time it was a problem across the state.

This is when I heard of SCRG. Home Educators were given free workshops on the education laws and SC family law at the headquarters of SCRG in Columbia. We had to know the law as well as the lawyers to make sure that we complied and did not step outside of it. SCRG was NOT AGAINST Public Schools. They were against those schools which stepped outside of the law - to punish families who had made other educational choices for their children. I know that every home schooling family does not do a perfect job - just as every private or public school does not do a perfect job. I, personally, am not against the public schools - although I believe there is a lot that needs to be changed within the system. And I will continue working to help it change - but I could not allow that system to prevent my child from succeeding. I want the public schools to succeed - and as I understand it - so does SCRG - because not every family has the calling - discipline - opportunity - or desire to educate their children at home - or in private schools. I want the students in public schools to learn and succeed - because when they graduate - or drop out - or get pushed through - we all still have to live with them. Those students will be the people driving our ambulances, manning our 911 centers, and accessing the property value of our home in the years to come. I want those children to LEARN - and I can't force their parents to care enough about their education to give up their lives in order to take that responsibility. So we are forced - until we find a better way - to rely on the public schools to do that job. My point here is that SCRG - was not against the public schools -- only some of the schools which seized and abused authority which was not even theirs under the law - against citizens who made other legal choices.

Also -- during the Hixon/Massey controversy - when the Edgefield Daily News reported Hixon's comments about SCRG and Hixon’s belief that they were working for Massey to smear him (Hixon) - the Edgefield Daily News Editor posted a comment that he had attempted to contact the SCRG for comment and had left messages which had not be returned. He implied no criticism - just reported the fact. So the next morning I called them myself and left a message. I went to their website and sent them an email - told them who I was and what I wanted - and that I wanted their recommendation as to who I should vote for. The president called me back the next morning. He told me that he could not give me a recommendation as to who I should vote for. All he could do was to tell me how each candidate had voted previously on each issue - or if the candidate had not been in office - he could tell me what his official position was on each issue. He only relayed information to me about each candidate and left it up to me to decide who best represented my point of view.

Now if the SCRG is involved in anything else that I do not know about - I can't speak to that. This is what I do know about them. It is all the truth that I know about them - and I felt it was time that somebody went on the record and said what we know to be true.

One other sidebar - the next day I called Shane Massey - who returned my call within 24 hours. I asked him to explain his position on School vouchers and home educators. At first it did not appear that he and I agreed, but after talking it through - I realized that the law and definitions of School Vouchers and School Tax Credits has changed since I was involved in these issues. To his credit, Shane talked with me by phone for over two hours and fully explained the law and how things stand at this time. I came away from that conversation - impressed with his honesty - his willingness to talk with me about issues where we started off in disagreement… he listened to my experience and even said that he learned some things from me that he did not know before. He said he would be more open to listening to people’s experiences in this area and contacting folks involved in these issues in the future for council when these issues come up in the future. This is the kind of representative that I want. Somebody who doesn’t already think he knows everything without being willing to listen to all sides of it. Somebody who wants to try to work things out to benefit the most people without causing too much harm to anyone. Somebody who truly seemed to want to represent ME - along with every other citizen in our district. I feel like Shane will be a representative who I can call up and ask questions - or give my opinions and he will mean it when he says he appreciates my input - and YOURS.

I hope my experience in this matter will help shed some light on the negative remarks which have been made against the SCRG and Shane.

Thank you.

Vicki McKie

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