|Pee Dee education officials support constitutional amendment|
, Florence Morning News
Several Pee Dee education officials have joined more than 6,000 people who signed a petition urging a constitutional amendment to require high-quality schools in the state.
Rick Reames, executive director of the Pee Dee Education Center, said the center’s board of directors unanimously voted to support the proposed state constitutional amendment to require “something more than ‘minimally adequate’ education.”
The board of directors includes superintendents from Chesterfield; Clarendon 1, 2 and 3; Darlington, Dillon 1, 2 and 3; Florence 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5; Lee; Marion 1, 2, and 7; Marlboro and Williamsburg County school districts, as well as representatives from Coker College and Francis Marion University.
Reames said the board voted April 10 to support the proposed constitutional amendment, then again May 8 to support the Web site, http://www.goodbyeminimallyadequate.com.
“We encourage citizens to view the Web site and, if they feel like they can support that proposed constitutional amendment, to go ahead and sign the petition online,” he said.
Dillon 2 Superintendent Ray Rogers said the proposed change for describing the state’s education is well overdue.
“The terminology (minimally adequate) does not speak well for our state,” Rogers said. “We want to say a lot of things, but minimally adequate does not speak well for what we’re trying to achieve. It doesn’t set the right tone for education.
“We’re hoping that education in the state will be looked at as the very best that we can give our kids, not the (minimum) that we can get by with,” he said. “I think that has gone on way too long across the state.”
State Sen. John Matthews, D-Orangeburg, is the lead sponsor of a joint resolution to amend the constitution.
It’s proposed that Section 3, Article XI of the State Constitution be amended to read:
“The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a system of free public schools open to all children in the State and shall establish, organize, and support such other public institutions of learning, as may be desirable that will provide a high quality education, allowing each student to reach his highest potential.”
It now states that “The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a system of free public schools open to all children in the State and shall establish, organize and support such other public institutions of learning, as may be desirable.”
To change the state constitution, a two-thirds vote of the Senate and the House is needed in order for the amendment to be on the general election ballot.
Supporters hope to obtain 1 million signatures and have the resolution on the general election ballot in November 2010.
The resolution was introduced to the Senate on Feb. 20 and now rests with the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was introduced to the House on April 9 and rests with the House Committee on Education and Public Works.
There were at least 6,873 signatures on the Web site by press time.
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