Well, this is just what we need -- more politicians tinkering with our schools.
Last week, Charleston County's legislative delegation picked West Ashley parent Brian Thomas to fill the vacancy left when Mary Ann Taylor decided last year to go on walkabout.
Now, Taylor's official reason for leaving was politics on the school board. The final straw for her came when some members attempted to vote themselves a $15,000 raise during tight budget times.
A simple "no" vote would have sufficed, but it's hard to blame anyone who wants to walk out of a school board meeting. That place is a zoo, and it's a wonder anything gets done.
But by appointing Thomas, who supports vouchers and had plans to run for the seat in the fall, lawmakers seem to be making a pretty strong statement about how they feel about public schools.
Which is, not very good.
This is nothing against Thomas.
The industrial supplies salesman has a child in public schools and is absolutely right to say the board doesn't have enough members with a personal stake in the schools.
And he's entitled to his opinion on vouchers -- even though this is an issue normally pushed by people who send their kids to private schools and whine about having to pay education taxes. Well guess what? People without kids don't like it either. For a family that can't afford private school, that voucher isn't going to cover half the tuition to a really great private school.
If lawmakers like that sort of thing, fine. They have to stand for election on their record. But it's an unwritten rule in politics that you don't give potential candidates for office a leg up by appointing them to a vacant position.
Sen. Chip Campsen and Rep. Leon Stavrinakis had the right idea; they wanted to appoint former board member Brian Moody to Taylor's seat.
Campsen said Moody was an ideal solution because every other candidate was at least considering a run and that it was better "to let the people decide" on a new person for the board.
"To me, it was the obvious choice," Stavrinakis says. "Brian wasn't going to run, he's been approved by the voters before. He's a good place holder."
That's exactly what the delegation should have done.
Thomas had the luck -- or the misfortune -- of being in the right place at the right time.
Initially, delegation members wanted to appoint former constituent school board member Henry Copeland to the seat. Copeland is such a frequent critic of the district that the board once made the wrong-headed decision to bar him from meetings. It rescinded that silliness.
The delegation would have put Copeland on the board if not for some weighty pressure from powerful people in this town. The delegation relented, and chose a guy -- a tea party supporter -- they hope will do the same thing that Copeland would have.
If that turns out to be the case, the delegation may get more grief from the people who asked it to stay out of this in the first place.