Indicates Matter Stricken
Indicates New Matter
The Senate assembled at 11:00 A.M., the hour to which it stood adjourned, and was called to order by the ACTING PRESIDENT, Senator SETZLER.
The following remarks by Senator SETZLER were ordered printed in the Journal of April 24, 2018:
I lied to my students today. You see, today was the first day of state testing. They showed up filled with anxiety. So I did what any good teacher would do. I lied.
I lied and told them that today was my favorite day of the year. I told them that I loved the smell of fresh tests in the morning. I sang them a song, "It's the most wonderful time of the year." I told them they had nothing to worry about. The truth is, they had quite a bit to be worried about. You see, there is a dirty little secret that most people don't know. But ask a Title 1 teacher about it, and they'll nod. They know. Here it is:
If you're a student from poverty, or an English Language Learner, or you have a learning disability, well, the test is stacked against you.
"No way!", you might be thinking. "That sounds like an excuse a bad teacher might make for failing test scores."
I've heard it before. But when you've been teaching for 11 years, you know.
Just hop online and take a math practice test. The first thing you'll notice is, it's 90% reading. They wouldn't even think about simply asking a student to multiply 394 x 27. Proving that they had learned a math standard? Nah, that would be too easy. Instead, it's hidden in a 5 paragraph word problem that's actually testing problem solving instead of math. Many of the problems are difficult for me -- a middle-class, college educated, English speaking, white woman. My Somalian refugee students who don't hear a word of English at home don't stand a chance. The reading test might ask them about museum exhibits, or board games, or karate classes (of course, this is merely speculative as I wouldn't DARE take a peek at the test we have been preparing all year for!). If they're from a middle-class family, they're probably familiar with these things. The stories make sense. They have a hook to hang their new knowledge on. However, when their parents are Mexican migrant workers working two jobs just to put food on the table, they've probably never experienced any of these things. When the choice is between paying rent or playing board games, I'm sure you know what choice they make. These students? They don't stand a chance.
The social studies test might ask them to write a letter to the Department of Agriculture arguing the need for fresh, healthy food in their communities. If they're a student from extreme poverty, their family is most likely more concerned with putting ANY food on the table. There's a good chance that they haven't sat around the family dinner table discussing the benefits of fruits and vegetables over processed foods and artificial food dyes. They don't stand a chance.
What about the students who have learning disabilities? The students who have been evaluated by specialists and proven to have a more difficult time with learning than their peers? We spend the year teaching them where they are at and focus on making growth. They feel successful every single day. However, someone in an office somewhere decided that a learning disability = slower. Just give them a few extra minutes to take the test, that should do it! That evens the playing field, right?!? They don't stand a chance.
Now, this isn't true for ALL students. Some thrive. They wear their hardships like a suit of armor. They defy the odds. But most? They are crushed under unrealistic expectations. I see it year after year.
This year, it looked like a single tear running down the face of one of my sweetest students. When I asked her afterwards why she was crying, she told me that she worked so hard but she couldn't figure out some of the answers. She was so, so sorry that she was letting me down. She worried that her family would be ashamed of her score.
What an awful burden to place on a ten year old.
And for what? So that some politician somewhere can scream, "Look at these awful teachers! We need to do something about this!" Or some big testing company can argue, "Look at all these failing schools! You simply MUST continue paying us millions of dollars every year to make these tests. How else will we know what schools to fix?!?" Or our Secretary of Education can swoop in claiming, "You know what will fix this? Vouchers! You get a voucher! And you get a voucher! Everybody gets a voucher!" Every year I get angrier and angrier. Yet every year I give it again. I don't let it defeat me or damper my spirit. And every year, when it's finally all over and done with, I DON'T lie. I look my students in the eyes and tell them how proud I am of them. I tell them that even if they don't get a perfect score, they gave me perfect effort, and that's what matters. I hug my crying student and tell her that of course she didn't let me down. I've never been more proud of her.
Then I go home and pray. Pray that next year will be different. Pray that next year they'll stand a chance.
The following remarks by Senator SABB were ordered printed in the Journal of March 29, 2018:
Thank you Mr. PRESIDENT, members of the Senate. I think you all know I have been here almost four years now. It is somewhat rare that I move to come to the podium.
I really rise for two points. The first point, last week there was a lot of discussion about trash in both subcommittees I was in and then Senator PEELER came to the podium and talked about trash. Earlier this week or last week, somebody asked me, "What were all the workers from the Department of Transportation doing on the side of the road?' "It looked like they were picking up trash." Then I looked in my e-mail and discovered that the Department of Transportation had picked up over 20,000 bags of trash. I was just delighted to see that. What it suggested to me is that, there are many in the State of South Carolina that believe that we need to be a part of the war on trash. I know Senator BRIGHT-MATTHEWS has a Bill that will make it easier for municipalities to have community service where the State will not be held liable if somebody gets injured while they are performing their community service. What I have gleaned from that is if one department can move the needle and advance that much, imagine what would happen if all departments did that. Imagine what would happen if our businesses and industries all decided they would be part of that war. Imagine if all were to promote cleanliness of our highways and by-ways. I really believe we are on to something. I would hope Senator GROOMS would encourage the departments in the manner in which they are doing. I think that is leadership. I think it is setting an example for the rest of us and we need to tell Secretary Hall and others, job well done. We hear you loud and clear. We are all on this team together. I would encourage us to promote cleanliness as being an important element. I want to say to Senator MALLOY that as we talk about penalties in our laws and I really think we ought to focus on the community service element of it and to the extent we can send a message from the Senate and hopefully from the entire General Assembly to extent community service becomes an alternative to incarceration that trash ought be one of the focuses of that type of service. So, that is point one.
I have tried over the course of my short tenure here in the Senate to learn from all of my sisters and brothers about things and how we do things. I want to share something that struck me and I can't remember again, my days, weeks and years tend to run together. It was a very contentious issue in the Senate. It involved Senator CAMPBELL and Senator CLEARY and I don't remember what the issue was. I remember them being in direct opposition to each other. It is something that stuck with me and struck me. I don't remember what the issue was but I remember that they were in direct opposition of each other in the position they were taking and it was important to both of them. Then I recall something happened. The folks that were involved, engaged in what I recall as being somewhat of an assassination of character against the Senator -- I took it far beyond the debate. As important as the issue was, I remember Senator CLEARY coming to the podium and speaking to the world saying that is not how we do business in the Senate. The issue was important to me but it is not important enough for us to allow this Body to go down a path that was unbecoming of the Senators of the State of South Carolina. I can share that story because it is something that is now ingrained in my fabric. It will be part of me as a State Senator as long as I'm given the privilege of being a State Senator. I think so to the extent we were here and witnessed that. I would encourage us to at least consider the idea of that becoming a part of our fabric. I think to the extent we were not here, and perhaps I'm not saying it eloquently enough, and perhaps that it won't stick. I would encourage you to perhaps have conversations with others who might be able to share my thoughts in a more understandable way. If you don't mind please maams and sirs, put it in the for what it's worth category and let's continue to rise up on the high plains of what is dignified. Oftentimes, what is important to one is not as important to the other. The rule of law, thing that has kept our country together for all of these years, I promise if we continue to abide by her, she will be our guiding principal. We can continue to govern ourselves in such a way that those who see what we do will be proud. Then, if we look to the inner man or the inner woman we might ourselves be proud.
The following Bill was read the third time and ordered sent to the House of Representatives:
S. 1218 (Word version) -- Senator Gregory: A BILL TO AMEND ACT 879 OF 1954, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO THE CREATION OF THE LANCASTER COUNTY NATURAL GAS AUTHORITY, SO AS TO ALTER THE METHOD OF APPOINTING MEMBERS TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS.
On motion of Senator GREGORY.
At 11:05 A.M., on motion of Senator MASSEY, the Senate adjourned to meet next Tuesday, May 8, 2018, at 11:00 A.M.
This web page was last updated on Friday, May 4, 2018 at 10:28 A.M.