Rhee is right

A recent letter about Michele Rhee and her StudentsFirst organization is very self-serving and has some mistakes. The writer appears to be concerned about “other teachers” having a say. Teachers are incredibly important, but the educational system, including teachers, needs to be held accountable like all the rest of us in our chosen careers.

Our educational system has been failing for many years. The Charleston County School District is no exception. The United States now ranks 14th in reading, 25th in math and 17th in science. How are our high school graduates supposed to compete in the global economy?

My grandson and I recently encountered a young cashier who could not make change for a $7.75 purchase from a 10-dollar bill. What is a high school teacher supposed to do with a student reading at a fourth grade level? What is the student doing in high school? How much time does this student take from the teacher’s job of teaching her class? When is this problem going to be fixed?

StudentsFirst and Michelle Rhee are advocates for students, not teachers, not administrators nor the CCSD. Obviously, the entrenched bureaucracy is threatened, as evidenced by recent letters, including one that expressed pride that the CCSD has been “incrementally” changing, and has a “solid record” of building facilities, support, etc. Interesting, but it misses the point to take credit for putting up buildings. A new monument won’t help the embarrassed young lady who couldn’t perform simple math, nor high school students reading at a fourth grade level.

Michelle Rhee made tough changes in the Washington, D.C., school district, including firing some administrators and teachers, but she made dramatic improvements for students. That was her priority. Changing a culture is very difficult. Job security for administrators and teachers is a secondary concern for her, unless they are part of the solution. She resigned when the mayor, her political support, was not re-elected.

Change is tough. Entrenched bureaucracies resist accountability and make it a lot tougher. StudentsFirst should not be considered a threat, but a savior.

John Howard

Holmgren Street

Mount Pleasant

Use less, pay more

Last year I spent a substantial amount of money on home improvements targeted at reducing my consumption of electricity. Despite a significant reduction in kilowatt hours consumed each month, my bill from SCE&G is significantly higher per KWh. For example, in June-July, 2012, I consumed an average of 12.7 percent less electricity, and yet my bill was 7.8 percent more. From August-September, I consumed an average of 33.5 percent less electricity, but my bills averaged only 25.8 percent less. These discrepancies resulted due to an average increase of 16.6 percent per KWh for these four months.

S.C. law prohibits solar panel leasing, a business that would be in direct competition with powerful utility companies. While many people and businesses may not be able to afford the outright purchase of solar panels, they may be able to afford to lease them, particularly if they prove more cost efficient than purchasing electricity from local utilities.

Sen. Greg Gregory of Lancaster has introduced Senate Bill 536 to change the current law, so that solar leasing and other viable alternatives might be available to consumers in this state. House Bill 3425, identical in content, was introduced by Rep. James Smith and, unfortunately has stalled.

Given that the Republican Party often touts its commitment to capitalism, the free market and competition, it would seem logical that these two bills pass and be signed into law by our governor. The free market can determine the success or failure of solar panel leasing or any other model presented to compete with SCE&G. Perhaps some viable, direct competition will encourage our utilities to look for cost efficiencies.

SCE&G often states that it needs to raise rates to prepare for the ever-increasing consumption of electricity. If the alternatives prove less expensive and thus pull enough people off the SCE&G grid, this oft repeated excuse would no longer be valid and rates would flatten out.

In the early 1980s, AT&T had virtually no competition. The federal government ruled that this monopoly must be broken. In a very short time, competition from new telecommunications companies resulted in a dramatic decrease in the cost of long distance calls. Let’s give competition a chance to have a similar effect on our power bills in South Carolina.

P. L. Roberts

Winchester Drive

Charleston

Park thanks

I would like to offer my appreciation to The Post and Courier for the recent “Azaleas abound” article. Even though this subject probably gets exposure every year, so many negative topics also get press. From my many bicycle rides through Hampton Park I had noticed what Kathy Woolsey, (Cypress Gardens — garden curator), mentioned in the Azaleas article, which was that because of the longer cooler weather, the blooming was more sustained.

My personal opinion is that this is the longest blooming period that I can remember, and it makes Hampton Park an absolute delight. The thanks don’t stop there because Hampton Park is not special just because of the azaleas.

The exceptional plantings and maintenance all-year round are a tribute to the combined City of Charleston and Charleston Parks Conservancy efforts that leverage an outstanding volunteer force resulting in gardens that are paid admittance grade.

Thanks to all who help to make this happen.

Barry Whalen

Dunneman Avenue

Charleston

Polygamy next?

The current popular trend is in favor of gay marriage. During a speech last year, Hillary Clinton said, “… human rights and gay rights are one in the same.”

If so, then why are Mormons denied the right to marry multiple partners based on their religious beliefs? After all, polygamy has biblical precedents dating all the way back to King David who was anointed by God, whereas same sex marriage is not.

Will there be others able to claim marriage rights violations also?

Dwight S. Ives

Pressley Avenue

Summerville

I-26 and trees

Guns do not kill people. People kill people. Trees do not kill people. Speeders, texters and drunk drivers kill people. The Department of Transportation needs to spend the $5 million on fixing bridges, filling potholes and public safety, especially getting drunk drivers off the road.

Recently we have had three road fatalities in which the drivers were allegedly drunk. The establishments that sold these folks alcohol are surely still in business. Why were their licenses not revoked?

It comes down to economics, not public safety. Alcohol sales provide at least 35 percent profit for the establishment that sells them, and the more sales the more tax revenues for the municipalities/counties.

Yes, police have a tough job, and issuing DUI citations is time consuming, but shouldn’t public safety be their main priority? There were fewer than a thousand DUI citations issued in the tri-county area for 2012.

If a county is not issuing 100 DUI citations a month it is not that concerned with public safety. Try to find an event in the tri-county area that does not promote alcohol consumption.

Many charitable organizations now have functions to raise money based solely on alcohol sales.

We all suffer the consequences of drunks driving with higher insurance rates, families torn apart, injuries and deaths of innocent citizens. DUI enforcement must be the No. 1 priority of all law enforcement agencies.

Get drunks off the road. Enforce DUI laws.

Steve Myers

Oak Hill Plantation

Moncks Corner

Get the point

In answer to the letter writer who believes that an atheist risks losing everything if he/she is wrong, while a Christian risks losing nothing:

Obviously, he missed the whole point of Dr. Dawkins’ thesis which is to provide the freedom for rational thought, something that religion does not encourage.

Now, using some rational thought, is it better to lead a moral life because it is the right thing to do (the atheist’s viewpoint) or because there is a magic man in the sky who watches your every move and will punish you with eternal hellfire if you step out of line (the Christian viewpoint)?

What has been wasted?

If there is a just God, he should reward a person living a moral life regardless of religion (after all, three quarters of the world’s population are not practicing Christians).

On the other hand, if there is no God, you have wasted a lot of Sunday mornings.

John Manzi

Little Oak Island Drive

Folly Beach

Veterans need help

I was disturbed and disgusted to learn that our returning veterans had to wait two years for the benefits that they are entitled to receive.

The Veterans Administration is not being managed properly and the director should be fired for incompetence. Fix the problem now.

Our volunteer veterans didn’t wait two years to answer the call. Please write or call your congressman and senators and demand action on this important issue.

Phil Siegrist

Plantation Lane

Mount Pleasant

Vile protests

A friend of ours died recently week from injuries sustained in Afghanistan. He was kept on life support until they could get him to the United States so his organs could be harvested to provide new life for three people.

So he not only gave his life for his country, he has now helped three people to hopefully live a better life. His funeral was March 22 in Hickory, N.C.

Of course, the members of the Westboro Baptist Church were on site to protest.

It is time for Congress to intervene in this issue where they have their right of free speech but the family of someone who gave their life for our country can’t have a peaceful going-home ceremony for their loved one.

Sandi Engelman

Julia Street

Charleston

The real radicals

A March 14 letter writer’s comments regarding the Tea Party, calling it “radical” and “menacing,” are classic examples of Orwellian Newspeak. What is radical or menacing about constitutionally-mandated limited government or preservation of individual liberties?

What is menacing about eliminating wasteful spending and balancing the budget?

These values can only be threatening to those who do not value our freedom and opportunities for individual achievement.

Liberalism, which wants the government controlling every aspect of our lives and wishes to “radically” transform America, is where radicalism lies.

The writer’s comments would be menacing if they weren’t so ridiculously transparent and laughable. If only the Tea Party did control the Republican Party.

Jay Reigart

Granny’s Lane

Awendaw