By Phil Noble
From the very beginning, you know this school is different: the young children bound out of the cars with excitement and run to hug the principal. He greets each student by name and then they scamper into the school building full of laughter and excitement.
Inside, the walls are crowded with lots of kids’ art work, pictures of students receiving awards, inspirational quotes from Steve Jobs and the likes and pennants from the teachers’ college hang outside every classroom door.
“Let’s start with kindergarten and work our way up,” says Dr. Harry Walker of Carolina Voyager Charter School in Charleston. He wears a gaudy tie with kids’ drawings of school busses and he doesn’t call himself principal but ‘School Leader’. He’s a slight, 60-something year old who has a warm face and a ready smile. I immediately liked him.
Inside the kindergarten class about two dozen kids are all standing around four big tables – each working on an iPad. They drew a squiggly pathway on a piece of paper and then transferred the design to the surface of their iPad by tracing the lines. At each junction point along the pathway, they move a colored coded block across the iPad and into the intersection to indicate a right turn, left turn or straight ahead. A ping pong ball size robot with flashing lights beeps as it moves along the pathway – and the kids can change the robots’ pathway as it goes.
Said more succinctly – these kindergartners are learning how to code software for a computer.
Each kid has their own iPad that they keep with them the whole school day and then take home so they can keep playing/learning after school. (They have never lost an iPad and damage has been minimal.) The students also have access to multiple Chromebooks that are available in every classroom.
In the next kindergarten class I visited, they were learning Spanish.
As we move through the other class rooms and grade levels, there were many variations but it was always the same – the kids were having fun learning, the teachers and teaching assistants (every classroom had both) are young and energetic, everything is colorful and bright (though the building is not new or especially modern) and the energy is palpable – just a few degrees this side of getting out of hand.
In short, it’s a bunch of kids and teachers all excited and energized about learning.
The Irish poet W. B. Yates famously said, “Education is not about filling a bucket but lighting a fire.” The fire station nearest this school needs to be on high alert.
After my tour, I sat down for a talk with Walker and a couple of teachers and here’s what I learned about the school:
- The school is in its third year and began with just 24 students; it now has 191 students in grades K-4 with an additional grade to be added each year until they get to 8th
- It is a public charter school of the Charleston County School District. There is no admissions test or requirements. All students are chosen by lottery and the racial mix is roughly 50/50 with a few Hispanic and Asian children added in.
- Their school day is one hour longer than most public schools; they begin at 7:40 and end at 3:40. They don’t have school busses so parents are responsible for dropping off and picking up their children.
Their strategy is “tech in everything, but not all the time.” They use technology focused on students’ exploration and creativity – and as a diagnostic tool to design an individual learning path for each student. But, the children only have about 90 minutes of screen time throughout the school day and they probably spend that much time again with their devices at home and over the weekend.
And, they are very selective in the technology that they do use. “We don’t use white boards,” said Dr. Walker. “They are very interactive for the teacher but for the students, it’s still kids sitting in rows watching the teacher at the front of the room – and they are very expensive.”
So, are these kids learning; what about test scores? Walker said that unlike many schools, they don’t really do any student preparation for tests. Too much testing and rigid process “suck all the life out of the kids and schools; we focus instead on joy and love – and we want it to go both ways between students and teachers.”
And lest one think the school is some sort of throwback to the days of hippie led education of the 60’s, Walker quickly adds that more than 80% of the students perform at or above grade level and test scores are way above the average for Charleston County and the state average.
Dr. Walker and his teachers believe that the technology is far less important than parents. His basic belief is that every parent wants the best for their children but many just don’t know what to do or how to do it. He strongly encourages what he calls ‘courageous conversations’ with parents about their children and what they need.
These courageous conversations with parents often involve the difficult issue of dealing with students’ social and emotional learning skills or lack thereof. The teachers agreed that these social and emotional skills are just as important to a child’s success as traditional academic skills.
Being relatively new to South Carolina from Maryland (he took a 40% pay cut), Walker said that he thinks there may be something in the culture of South Carolina that makes parents, especially minority parents, reluctant to ask for help. “There seems to be a basic lack of trust on the part of African American parents that the schools really care about their children.”
So, are there lessons of Voyager School that are relevant for other South Carolina schools? Yes, but just as no two students are alike, so too no two schools or communities are exactly alike. However, there seems to be three big takeaways from the Voyager experience that can be of value to schools all across the state.
- There are no silver bullets. As Dr. Walker and his teachers are quick to say, there is no silver bullet as no one size fits all for all students in all schools. This is why the tech enabled individual diagnostic tools and individual learning paths for each student are so important.
- Money is not the answer to all the problems, but a certain amount is necessary. Although iPads and Chromebooks sound expensive, they are really only a tiny fraction of what most schools have to spend, it is a question of priorities. Unfortunately, many schools in South Carolina, especially in rural areas, don’t even have what is required for “minimally adequate.”
- Don’t focus exclusively on academic attainment and test scores at the expense of parental involvement and social and emotional learning. At Voyager they believe that also focusing on parents and non-academic skills will result in more student driven learning which will ultimately be more effective and long lasting.
As for me, like the students, teachers and staff at Voyager, I had a lot of fun at this school and clearly they have proven that real learning can and should be fun.
And, as for the future of education in South Carolina, I’m betting on these kindergarten kids who are learning today how to speak Spanish and how to code.
Phil Noble has a technology firm in Charleston and writes a weekly column for the S.C. Press Association and several business magazines.
By Dr. William Holland
I’m sure you have noticed there is not a shortage of opinions about this election. Even Facebook is blowing up with our family and friends expressing their personal thoughts. It seems this election has not only revealed more about what we believe politically but it has also opened some new philosophical and religious views. I have wondered over the years just how many people actually have a clue about politics, (I do not) and the more I listen to the avalanche of viewpoints, the more it proves that very few do. As we move forward, we are evolving into a deeper more complex legal system and this partially explains why our government is becoming more difficult to understand. These expanding social laws are at the center of a political war and both sides are in a frenzy to see who will have the opportunity to enforce their convictions upon the masses. The Republican and Democrat chasm is considered a science and to be honest, in defense of the average intelligence, it is very difficult to comprehend. There are reasons why things are the way they are and we would presume this would be relatively easy to figure out, but it is not. Wouldn’t it bring such a refreshing wave of peace to witness a bi-partisan unity that hopefully would help eliminate much of the strife and confusion?
With all of the issues and topics that are being discussed and debated, maybe there are so many different views because there are so many levels of understanding. If we are only receiving our information from the media monster, then maybe this explains why we do not know what is really going on. Maybe the political machine has designed it this way so that charismatic politicians can hide behind the smoke and mirrors. On top of this, we have a group of voters that could care less what happens as long as they are allowed to live free and do whatever they want. Then let us include another significant section that could care less about the moral convictions of the candidates as long as they are guaranteed financial support. By the way, this slice alone contains enough votes to influence an election and is a sobering reminder of how someone can purchase the masses with the power of money.
I realize that religious ideals are widespread, but could it be the real disagreements are simply between those who are serious about Christian principals and those who are not? Yes, there are many different measures of devotion but generally speaking it will always come down to those who have a passionate and personal relationship with Jesus Christ and are committed to obey what is important to God. Individuals who are not Christians or those who do not follow the Bible, are much more likely to be indoctrinated by the system of the world because they simply do not include His thoughts within their views. We are witnessing a tug-of-war between older conservative warriors and the rising of a generation of progressive liberal thinkers, and if the latter become the majority (and maybe they already are) they will rule according to an aggressive secular agenda and will further strive to establish a humanistic environment.
As Christians, we have been called to pray and vote because this directly effects the way we live. No matter what happens in a couple of weeks, let us prepare our heart now to become even more faithful and diligent to our mission than ever before. We realize that when mankind develops and follows his own way of governing, he will always become entangled within his own foolishness which no doubt describes our current condition. Nevertheless, we represent a Spiritual government and a kingdom that is not from this world and have been commissioned to reach out with compassion and demonstrate the gospel of Jesus. Be encouraged and remember the Lord already knows the future and He is not afraid, depressed or panicking. God is in total control! Keep trusting in Christ and stay focused, there is much work to do.
Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian outreach minister, counselor and community chaplain. To learn more visit: billyhollandministries.com
News article posted by SC Press Association on October 13th, 2016
Publisher Morrey Thomas is pleased to announce that Ellen C. Priest will be joining the the News and Press in Darlington as a consultant.
“We are delighted to have this opportunity to work with Ellen,” says Thomas. “With her many years of newspaper experience, she will be instrumental as we look for ways to grow and increase our business. Her expertise in digital communications will be invaluable as our customers are becoming online focused.”
Ellen Priest served as president and publisher of Aiken Communications, which includes the daily Aiken Standard and the weekly North Augusta Star, as well as their interactive division and the online TV channel ASTV, from December 2013 to October 2016.
Prior to that, she served as president and publisher of Summerville Communications, which includes The Summerville Journal Scene, The Berkeley Independent and The (Goose Creek) Gazette for over six years. She previously served as business manager with Aiken Communications for over 19 years.
“I’m looking forward to working with Morrey and his staff at the News and Press to help a great community newspaper get even better.” said Priest.
A native of Middletown, CT, Priest has been married to Dr. Jeff Priest, Executive Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs at USC Aiken for 35 years. They have two children. In addition to serving as the President of the South Carolina Press Association, she serves on numerous other boards in the Aiken community.
The News and Press is the oldest independent newspaper in the Pee Dee area of South Carolina, and has been serving Darlington County since 1874. The paper publishes weekly; visit the website at: www.newsandpress.net.
Columns article posted by SC Press Association on October 11th, 2016
By Phil Noble
This is the third column on “The New South Carolina” – about the demographic, economic and political changes that are transforming our state.
In sports, the Gamecocks wear garnet and black. Clemson wears orange and purple. In politics, South Carolina is red and deep red.
These are what are known as “self-evident truths.” Things that just are.
While the garnet and orange will probably last until the Second Coming, the red in South Carolina politics is changing – and changing faster than most folks think.
In varying degrees, three recent polls in the state tell the same story: while the overall partisan split between Democrats and Republicans appears fairly consistent favoring the Republicans, the secondary level issue questions show that the underlying attitudes are moving more toward Democratic positions. Pollsters of both parties agree that changes that occur first in secondary level questions foreshadow changes in partisan identification.
Full disclosure: I’m a Democrat, so I’m glad to see these good secondary numbers but I’m more excited that this shows there is an emerging consensus for more moderate, common sense politics in our state.
Poll # 1 – In August, a Public Policy Polling survey asked about a number of social and economic issues that have traditionally been very divisive issues with stark contrasts between Democrats and Republicans. Consider the following verbatim analysis from the poll:
-84% of voters in the state support background checks on all gun purchases; only 10% are opposed to them. That includes bipartisan support from 86% of Democrats, 83% of independents, and 82% of Republicans.
-Similarly, 81% of voters in the state support barring those on the Terror Watch List from buying guns, with only 10% opposed to that. That includes bipartisan support as well from 85% of Republicans, 79% of Democrats, and 76% of independents.
-77% of voters in the state support increasing the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour, with only 13 % who think the current level is acceptable, and 8 % who would like to eliminate it altogether. 91% of Democrats, 71% of independents, and 67% of Republicans think the minimum wage should at least go up to $10 an hour.
-78% of voters in the state – including 85% of Democrats, 76% of independents, and 73% of Republicans – support allowing student loans to be refinanced at lower rates.
-There’s 53% – 25% support for legislation protecting LGBT South Carolinians from discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations. Voters under age 45 support that by an even wider 37-point margin at 58% – 21% showing the extent to which South Carolina will become more progressive when it comes to LGBT issues in the years ahead.
And the poll found that South Carolinians are increasingly better educated, as 17% had some college, 26% had a college degree, and 17% had post-graduate education. This is a total of 60% with at least some college and 43% that have a college degree or more.
Poll # 2 – A second poll in August by the Feldman Group was commissioned by the S.C. Democratic Party and the most interesting section of the poll looked at attitudes of white voters that identified themselves as independent or swing voters.
- 79% favor reducing college loan costs
- 78% support a law requiring equal pay for equal work
- 77% favor universal background checks before gun purchasing
- 70% favor increasing state funding for education
- 57% support tax cuts for the middle class and tax hikes on the wealthy
- 54% favor increasing the minimum wage
- 54% favor providing birth control to teenagers and low-income women
- 48% support universal pre-kindergarten
- 42% support expanding Medicaid
And, most interestingly, this group of white independent voters supports Trump 43% to 19% for Clinton.
Poll #3 – The third poll in September was the Winthrop University Poll. In surveying all votes they found overwhelming support for what have traditionally been seen as Democratic issues:
- 81% support a state law requiring equal pay for equal work for men and women.
- 79% support reauthorization and funding for the SC Conservation Bank, a state agency that protects South Carolina’s rivers, farms, and forests through voluntary land protection agreements.
- 78% support legalizing medical uses of marijuana.
Why is this happening, and what does it mean for The New South Carolina?
There are three big takeaways from all of this that explain what is happening: in-migration, moderation and nationalization.
First, in-migration. A whole lot of new folks are moving to South Carolina and they don’t think like the majority of us who have already been here for a while. After Washington state, South Carolina has the highest rate of in-migration per capita of any state in the union. These newcomers tend to be bunched on both ends of the age spectrum: young people who move here because it’s a great place to live, work, and raise a family, and older folks who retire here because they like our climate, low taxes on seniors and they think that Florida is overdone.
Second, moderation. While many of these younger voters would be classified as ‘liberal’ (see the LGBT issue above), the older new voters are ‘moderate’ Republicans. In referring to the fringe S.C. Republican politicians that seem to dominate the headlines and the legislature, one of this older group said to me, “I was generally a Republican in Ohio, but I’m not one of those crazies.”
Third, nationalization. Since the 1960s, there have been a number of forces that have made South Carolina and the South in general more like the nation as a whole. We all watch the same media channels, eat at the same fast food chains, wear the same brands of clothes (and everything else we buy) from the same national retailers. For many of us, it’s very sad to see our state and the South ‘lose’ many of the things that make us unique and special – but the changes are happening.
The bottom line on all these numbers and trends is that South Carolina (like our neighbors in Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia) is trending more Democratic and will likely become increasingly competitive.
When we have been a one-party state, whether with the Democrats in the past or the Republicans today, it has not been good for our state. It’s only when we have real competition between the parties, ideas, and policies that our state has progressed.
This is what we can look forward to in The New South Carolina – and that’s a good thing.
Phil Noble has a technology firm in Charleston and writes a weekly column for the S.C. Press Association. www.PhilNoble.com email@example.com
News article posted by Carolina Reporter on October 10th, 2016
By Kasey Meredith
Charles T. “Bud” Ferillo is a central figure in South Carolina when it comes to the issue of race relations. From his days as a teenager protesting segregation to his work as a documentary film producer, the Charleston native is well-known as an advocate for equality.
Now, Ferillo is bringing a program modeled after the University of Mississippi’s William Winter Institute to Columbia. It is known as the Welcome Table.
Charleston and Childhood
From a young age, Ferillo understand the politics of exclusion. Ferillo’s father owned five movie theaters along Charleston’s King St., which were segregated. White patrons entered through the front door. Black patrons entered through a separate entrance that took them to a balcony.
“Why my father was like that I could never understand; he would never explain to me. But he was to his core, a bigot,” Ferillo said.
Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, Ferillo vowed to hold different views from his father.
“My father for some reason had more racist attitudes towards African American and Jewish people in Charleston, which was quite unusual in my family, which was otherwise very loving and comfortable,” Ferillo said.
The section that Ferillo lived in was integrated, with African Americans, Catholics and Jewish people. He recalls that many of his friends were not of the same race. “ I accepted that as my standard family,” Ferillo said.
He also cultivated some unusual friendships, including the nuns at his private Roman Catholic high school, Bishop England, who told him they would sneak out at night to protest segregation.
“They taught me how different the state, or even the country, could be,” Ferillo said.
Some of Ferillo’s friends were his grandparents’ age, including activists Esau Jenkins and Septima Clark, who were among the key leaders in the civil rights movement in Charleston.
Ferillo’s mother begged him not to attend the sit-in protests at his father’s theaters, so he found an indirect way to help his friends. He made sandwiches and signs for the protesters in the basement of Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historic downtown church.
Decades later, that church would be the scene of the horrific slaying of the church’s pastor, Sen. Clementa Pinckney, and eight of his parishioners. The alleged gunman Dylann Roof is facing murder charges in connection with the slayings.
In the wake of tragedy
“I made sandwiches and signs in the basement of the Mother Emmanuel AME church, which was two blocks from where I grew up. The very same room that Dylann Roof executed nine people last year,” Ferillo said.
When Ferillo heard that a shooting had occurred in his childhood neighborhood, he was devastated. “I was deeply offended by Dylann Roof’s written vitriol and his stated purpose of wanting to start a civil war based on race, because he felt that the country was losing it’s white supremacy.”
Ferillo had met Pinckney a few times, but did not know the other victims personally.
“All of my childhood, adolescence, service in the military, service in public life, in the statehouse and in business have been exceptionally comfortable working with African Americans,” Ferillo said.
After the shootings, Ferillo began working with others to start South Carolina’s version of the William Winter institute.
A seat at South Carolina’s Welcome Table
Ferillo first found out about the William Winter Institute when he was working on a documentary called “A Seat at the Table.” Ferillo was already well known across the state for the 2005 documentary “Corridor of Shame: The Neglect of South Carolina’s Rural Schools,” which illustrated the inequity in funding that had left schools along the I-95 corridor dilapidated and with few resources.
The goal of South Carolina’s Welcome Table is to create internal and external dialogue about race in order to spur reconciliation and healing in the community.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, Gov. Nikki Haley called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the Soldier’s Monument on the Statehouse grounds, which the legislature approved in the days following.
South Carolina, Ferillo believed, was ready to begin healing. Inspired, Ferillo began working to establish financial support for South Carolina’s Welcome Table through his work as the coordinator of the South Carolina Collaborative for Race and Reconciliation established at the University of South Carolina.
There are three phases in which facilitators will guide discussion on race. The facilitators will ask open, modest questions. For example, “When did you first realize your race?”
The inaugural discussions began in October at USC among students, faculty and staff. Then the organizers plan to take the conversations into South Carolina communities.
“I have tried to live my faith. I don’t just mean my religious faith but my secular faith, in the need to create a vastly different kind of South Carolina than our history of oppression,” Ferillo said.
Cartoons article posted by SC Press Association on October 10th, 2016
Columns article posted by SC Press Association on October 10th, 2016
By Dr. William Holland
I have the opportunity to meet new people every week and I am grateful for this blessing. As I continue to pray for spiritual awareness, I realize the Lord has been patient with my own problems and has graciously allowed me to labor in the area of communication. When having a conversation with someone, listening intently is the key to recognizing what is on their mind and in particular to discern where they are in their relationship with God. Most of the time the average person will stay in the shallow waters when it comes to subject matter with no intention of exposing their deeper thoughts. I have actually heard individuals say, “it is no one’s business what I believe” and evidently they are convinced it’s more safe to tolerate serious discussions than being a part of them. With others, if a controversial topic comes to the surface, they may bite on it or they might wait to see how the other person responds and then adjust the conversation accordingly. Whatever the case, very rarely do I encounter someone that barges out of the gate with both barrels blazing.
Lately, I’ve had some very interesting discussions that once again reminds me about how people see themselves spiritually. These are intelligent and highly respected individuals but it did not take long to discover that God is not a part of their lives. In fact, they bristled at the very mention of His name. This attitude is a subtle hostility of disrespect that caused me to feel as if I had said something inappropriate or offensive and in the reality of spiritual warfare – I did. When anyone rejects God, it immediately sets off an alarm because I know these people are living on the edge of an eternity without hope and there is no way I can ignore that. You see, beyond the communication we humans have with one another, there is an underlying reality that is directly connected to the soul. Maybe I am a little more discerning about this since I am a minister, but when I encounter someone that needs to be rescued by the mercy of God, I start looking for a life preserver as if someone has fallen overboard. To go a step further, I am also burdened about a world of individuals that have yet to reach out with faith for the truth that set them free.
Within our prayers, it is important to remember that being sensitive to those around us is crucial when attempting to communicate the gospel. These opportunities are commonly referred to as “divine appointments” because they are seen as God arranging the perfect time and place where we can speak into another person’s life which also provides a way for the Holy Spirit to draw others to The Almighty. However, when we lose our interest about the lost, this is a sign we have drifted away from His holy fire and have cooled off into a selfish and lukewarm state of being. Within the Christian life, we realize that our passion about evangelism exposes our level of spiritual love and concern for others.
At times I think about what it would take to get someone’s attention and then I am reminded that only God knows and that my responsibility is to just follow His directions. I remember a classic story in the book of Acts chapter nine, about a man named Saul who was a highly educated and respected authority within the religious legal system. Unfortunately, he was also known to be one of the fiercest persecutors of Christians until the day he had a spiritual experience that changed him forever. I will let you read how this fascinating story ends, but allow me to conclude that God has a way to convict and transform even the hardest heart. He is constantly urging us to pray for those we meet and desires that we develop an awareness within our conversations to relay what He is telling us to say as this could definitely make an eternal difference in someone’s life.
Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian author, outreach minister and community chaplain. To learn more visit: billyhollandministries.com
News article posted by SC Press Association on October 6th, 2016
Below are FDA links that will provide food safety information for consumers during severe storms and hurricanes.
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By: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Although Hurricane Matthew is threatening the coast of South Carolina, Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing’s Michael McDowell visited Charleston on Tuesday to speak at Trident Technical College and help build houses in the community.
McDowell kicked off his visit to the Lowcountry as the keynote speaker at the HopeBuilders Breakfast that took place at Trident Technical College. During the breakfast, the driver of the No. 95 Thrivent Financial Chevrolet SS helped raise awareness of what Habitat for Humanity and Thrivent Financial are doing within Berkeley County and the Charleston community.
“The morning started out, we had a breakfast and just tried to raise awareness for what Habitat (for Humanity) is doing in the local community and the need for volunteers and support and you know, just the impact that Habitat and Thrivent (Financial) has made in a lot of communities but that community in particular,” McDowell said.
Following the breakfast at Trident Technical College, McDowell stopped by a Habitat for Humanity build site in Charleston, and he began assisting with the construction of houses. McDowell met with the families and helped Thrivent Financial volunteers install installation and place siding on the walls of homes.
“Then we went over to the job site and there are homes, new homes that are being built and so we got to do a little work and install some installation and put some siding on the house.” McDowell said. “The homes are getting really close to being completed, and that means that there will be two families that will have a safe and secure home to live in and to raise their families. It was pretty awesome to see.”
McDowell added, “To be a part of someone’s forever home and to know that you had a small part in it, and they allowed you to experience that with them is really special.”
McDowell’s final stop was at a Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in the area. While at the ReStore, McDowell met with the local community, posed for photographs and signed autographs. The No. 95 Chevrolet SS was also on display for the community to get a first-hand look at a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race car.
On Wednesday afternoon, Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing announced that veteran crew chief Todd Parrott will be atop the pit box for the reaming races this season. With more than 20 years of experience, Parrott is a great addition to the small team that is continuing to build and move forward. As for Dave Winston who previously held the crew chief position, he will now fill the role of a race engineer for the team.
“Todd Parrott obviously has a lot of experience,” McDowell said. “He has won races on the box, and he’s a great asset that we’ve added to our race team. With our alliance with RCR (Richard Childress Racing), it’s really what allowed that to happen. He has been working with RCR for the last couple of years. He has been working with Ty Dillon, when Ty is in the car, and so it’s just a great way for us to strengthen our growing program and our growing race team and add another additional key player that can really help propel our team to the next level.”
Thursday’s on-track action at Charlotte Motor Speedway will be the first time that McDowell and Parrott have worked together. McDowell’s best finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway came with the team in 2014, when he finished 29th. Back in May during the Coca-Cola 600, McDowell finished 34th. The Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing team is riding on a little bit of momentum right now. They finished 12th at Richmond International Raceway and two races later, the team earned a 26th place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. With the addition of Todd Parrott, McDowell believes that the team will have a great opportunity to earn a solid finish this weekend in the Bank of America 500.
“Mile-and-a-halves have definitely been our Achilles heel for our program,” McDowell said. “We ran mid to low 20s at the short tracks and places like that, and that would be the goal for this weekend, to run in the low 20s and put ourselves in a position to get another solid finish and grow for next year. Obviously working with Todd for the first time is part of the growing of figuring out how we communicate and what we each need to make improvements and moving on.”
TheFourthTurn.com is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.
By AnnaMarie Koehler-Shepley
If the President of the United States offered a live stream video of his or her personal life, would you tune in?
The prospective voters in the fictional TV series “House of Cards” did just that, when Frank Underwood’s Republican opponent broadcast home footage of his wife and children at the breakfast table over social media.
It might be hard to imagine, but the possibility of direct communication with the President over social media is more realistic today than ever before.
Social media is playing a larger role in how people learn about politics and how campaigns communicate with prospective voters in this election than any before.
Amanda Loveday, former executive director of the South Carolina Democratic Party, has been keeping track of how quickly social media has taken the political world by storm.
In this presidential election, Loveday points out, Republican nominee Donald J. Trump released his vice presidential pick on Twitter, and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton released her vice presidential pick by text message. Even President Barack Obama endorsed Hillary Clinton by Facebook Live video. Those platforms were virtually unknown in elections past.
“All those words (Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat), ten years ago people would have thought I was crazy,” she said.
2008-present: The rise of social media politics
Loveday, who covered the 2008 election as a journalist before she got involved with politics on a partisan level, says social media really began changing the campaign game in that election cycle.
“You had to have the original, or typical, strategy,” she said, mentioning press releases, TV advertisements, and newspaper advertisements. “But you then had to develop a strategy on how to communicate with folks who are on social media, which required way less content.”
In 2008, that meant a strict 140-character limit on tweets and only short posts on Facebook. Now, the scene is more dynamic, with graphics, videos and interactive content.
“As social media has evolved, the campaign strategies have had to evolve as well,” Loveday said.
Matt Moore, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, says social media has changed politics just as politics has changed the way social media is delivered.
“Politicians and political parties now have built-in audiences that they can reach instantly,” Moore said. “It’s really the first time that’s happened in our country’s history that politicians and elected officials can communicate directly with voters.”
With the rise of social media, Moore said that the quality of the content is one way that campaigns have had to step up their game, mentioning eye-catching graphics and headlines as crucial to lure in Millennial voters.
Another way, Loveday pointed out, is social media’s ability to target any audience about specific issues.
“That’s what’s so great about the online social media world of politics and how it has changed. Before, you didn’t have those targeting abilities and you’d have to talk about student debt and social media to everybody, and unfortunately, sometimes people would tune it out because it wasn’t an issue that really meant anything to them,” Loveday said.
Reallocating the budget
Perhaps not as often thought about is the cost of a social media campaign, which commandeers portions of the budget previously reserved for traditional advertising platforms.
For every tweet, Facebook post, or Instagram photo, there’s an employee whose job it is to make sure these posts reach the right audience.
“People spend millions of dollars on social media campaigns,” Loveday said.
Even though social media is free to its users, it costs money to target certain audiences or to make sure that even people who don’t follow a candidate will see content. And there’s more to digital campaigning than tweets and Facebook posts, including things like Google Ads and Snapchat filters, which Loveday said could run into thousands of dollars.
On top of the fees that go into promoting material, there are teams of people employed full-time to share messages over social media.
In Moore’s office at the SC GOP, for example, there are five full-time staffers, and one of those staff positions is entirely dedicated to digital media. Moore said that the most sophisticated and high-profile campaigns have whole floors dedicated to social media.
Need for speed
With teams of people working to distribute a particular partisan message, political journalists like Politico’s Hadas Gold now have to sift through large amounts of material and at a much quicker rate.
“Everything’s much faster,” she said. “There’s a need for speed that’s really changed over time, where things just go much quicker and blow up much faster because of social media.”
Last week, Gold kept a close eye on the first presidential debate between Trump and Clinton while also keeping tabs on her Twitter feed, saying, “I’m usually following along, at least out of the corner of my eye, just because it’s a good way to gauge reactions and how people are interpreting things.”
Another reason journalists like social media is because it’s an easily accessible platform to compare old thoughts with new posts. For example, during the debate, there were times when Trump said things that were inconsistent with his previous statements, and social media made it easy to revisit his old opinions.
“[His tweets] help illuminate what he was really thinking before he ran for president, before everything he said was recorded or parsed. And it’s helpful now when he says he never said something and then you go back, pull it up, and yes, he did,” she said.
A more combative approach?
Despite all the benefits of social media, some feeds have recently been home to trivial arguments instead of serious talking points.
One example is when Donald Trump tweeted, “Obama just endorsed Crooked Hillary. He wants four more years of Obama—but nobody else does!” and Clinton responded with her own tweet, saying, “Delete your account.”
Brendan Turkey, 33, will be voting this November and says that he’s turned off by how candidates have conducted themselves over social media.
“I think it allows a more combative and nasty approach, because you can just say something and then five minutes later, say the complete opposite. It’s really shifted us away from having some sort of conversation as opposed to a shouting match,” Turkey said. “I feel like we haven’t really heard a substantive conversation about policy from either one of our candidates.”
Turkey points out that the shortened format of sites likes Twitter might make having these “conversations” more difficult, saying, “We don’t want to read anything that’s more than a sentence or two, so who wants to read about policy?”
But it might be time to start considering those formats for serious conversations. According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center in January, 44 percent of individuals who had learned about politics in the last week had received the information from social media.
By July, 24 percent said that they had turned to candidates’ social media posts for news and information about the election—more than the combined total of the percentages who said they got information from candidates’ own websites or emails.
While many agree that this year’s presidential campaign has utilized social media in an unprecedented way, it’s not clear as to why it’s been so successful or whether it’ll have the longevity to survive future elections.
Some, like Moore, credit both of the presidential candidate’s celebrity to the levels of engagement this election cycle.
“Most people know them already,” Moore said. “In prior election cycles, the candidates are governors or senators or lesser known figures.”
“It’s such an incredible transformation of information that’s given to voters and I think that this election specifically is unique because you have a reality star as the nominee for a major party, and because of his access and his interest in social media, Hillary Clinton is having to step up her game,” Loveday said.
Donald Trump began the campaign with a built-in audience of 10 million people, which, Moore added, is a huge advantage.
“He was able to shape the conversation’s direction instead of having reporters or news figures do it for him,” Moore said. “It’s a really new and unique thing in American politics, and I think it’s only going to continue as we go into the future.”
By Brandon Gann
South Carolinians have spent time examining their racial history and the future of race relations in the wake of the horrific June 2015 shootings at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, and the removal of the confederate battle flag on the grounds of the state capitol.
At the University of South Carolina, President Harris Pastides has started an initiative to open up the dialogue about race. Welcome Table SC is an open forum discussion in a small group setting that brings together faculty, students, community members and facilitators to talk about their experiences with race.
Professors David Snyder and Nathaniel Bryan, will help stimulate and lead group sessions, but mostly moderate and allow for participants to make up the majority of conversation.
Snyder views race relations through a historical lens, employing his background in modern American and U.S. diplomatic history. With this understanding of the past, Snyder believes it necessary to see and talk about the past, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable it makes people, in order to understand the racial divide and to build the healing needed in communities.
“I understand America’s long difficulty, and I’m using that word advisedly, with its racial past,” Snyder said.
Bryan is focused on early childhood education in his role of clinical assistant professor at USC. He has several published works and peer reviews to his credit involving race and childhood education.
“Hopefully as we start these initial conversations, that start out with individual racism, we can gradually move people to understanding the importance of looking at racism from an institutional prospective,” he said.
The Welcome Table appeals to both Bryan and Snyder because the process tackles the racial issue head on through collegiate discussions.
“It’s not an argument based approach. We’re not seeking to change people’s minds… The Welcome Table is about sharing your stories, sharing your truth, in a way that gets past the labels we apply to people,” Snyder said.
“I felt that it was a way to connect my scholarship, the bulk of which is centered around race, to community activism and organizations,” Bryan said.
The initiative at USC will be the first time the program has been held in the state. However, the Welcome Table draws from a similar endeavor at the University of Mississippi. That university’s William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation has been working on the same type of program for the better part of a decade.
Both facilitators have slightly differing, but positive, expectations for how the program will unfold. Bryan focused on a thematic outcome for the program while Snyder talked about its potential to carry on beyond its initial phases.
“My main expectation is we have honest conversations around institutional, structural, and individual racism. I think a lot of the conversation thus far has been centered around individual racism,” Bryan said. “I think if we really want people to understand the nature of racism, we have to look at how racism is embedded in the structure, in the policies, in the laws that disenfranchise, particularly, communities of color.”
“We would like this to grow into a longer and broader sustained conversation throughout the state. For it to gain enough notoriety for people to understand what it is, more and more participate in it, and more and more report a good outcome from it,” Snyder said.
Both stated that among peers and colleagues within the USC Office of Diversity and Inclusion and across the College of Education, the response for the program has been enthusiastic.
That enthusiasm reached the highest levels of administration at USC. President Pastides was a driving force in implementing the Welcome Table and USC’s Collaborative for Race and Reconciliations.
In a guest column that was published in both the State newspaper and on the USC’s website, Pastides gave a statistic summarizing why conversations are needed.
According to USC’s Institute for Public Service and Policy Research, 32 percent of black South Carolinians rated race relations as poor compared to 10 percent of white South Carolinians. Twenty-nine percent of white respondents rated race relations as good compared to 24 percent of black respondents. The study found another divide as blacks responded that race relations were getting worse and whites answered they were getting better.
The Welcome Table’s mission is to have a positive and healthy talk about race relations. Eventually, conversations will be held in South Carolina communities interested in sponsoring small group discussions.
Trying to bring those people together presents the greatest challenge.
“What we can do is provide a forum for people to speak their truth,” Snyder said.
Bryan expressed his eagerness for people to become involved, but also offered a unique perspective, which comes from a standpoint of cultural awareness.
“I caution that the moniker “Welcome Table” can cause problems, particularly within communities of color, because when you think about it, (the program) and the history of those of color, there hasn’t been an opportunity to be welcomed to the table to discuss issues of race and racism,” Bryan said.
Some people, because of the privilege of being white or affluent, will always have a place at the table, Bryan said. “Historically, those who’ve been affected the most by these issues are the ones who have been marginalized the most.”
Like most issues, the solutions will not come easy, but the payoff is well worth the effort.
“I think healthy dialogues on race are difficult. If you’re having easy conversations, if you have ready-made slogans, ready-made ideas, then that’s not a meaningful conversation at all about race. The Welcome Table is an extraordinarily rewarding program. I did it. It’s not easy. It’s a challenge,” Snyder said.
“It’s important to applaud the university for its effort in bringing communities together to really address these issues that have been plaguing us for centuries… But I think we need to go deeper in our conversations and have more conversations more frequently about these issues,” Bryan said.
The Welcome Table will have its first meetings in Hamilton College in October. Anyone who is seeking to become involved can fill out a form on the Office of Diversity and Inclusion website: https://www.sc.edu/about/offices_and_divisions/diversity_and_inclusion/key_diversity_initiatives/sc_collaborative_for_race_reconciliation/index.php
By AnnaMarie Koehler-Shepley
Today, if you were to ask a South Carolinian to rate the state’s race relations, you might get a myriad of answers, including fears that recent incidents have exacerbated already tense racial climate.
In the last two years alone, South Carolina has been pulled apart by multiple race-related incidents.
In April 2015, Walter Scott, a 50-year-old African-American, died after he was allegedly shot five times in the back by a white officer, Michael Slager, who pulled him over for a broken brake light in North Charleston. Eyewitness video emerged showing Slager firing as Scott attempted to flee. Slager is awaiting trial for Scott’s murder.
A little more than two months later, Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man, allegedly walked into the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston and opened fire on the black parishioners inside. Nine people died in the horrific mass shooting, including the church’s pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney. Roof has said he wanted to start a race war.
In an effort to institute change, the University of South Carolina will launch a series of Welcome Table SC meetings in October to improve the racial climate in the state.
These on-campus dialogues will act as a trial run, with plans to implement the full version in communities around the state beginning in January 2017.
Five groups of about 18 participants and two facilitators will meet in Hamilton College on USC’s main campus for the discussions. USC’s Chief Diversity Officer John Dozier says meetings will involve sharing personal stories and getting to know other participants in, “a dialogue that won’t feel like you’re talking about racial issues,” he said.
The full Welcome Table program involves three separate phases, each lasting about six months, though these on-campus talks will focus mostly on phase one, where participants take time to share their personal stories and impressions of race, and making sure that the trained facilitators are ready to move out into the community.
“Stories are sometimes framed by physical characteristics or differences that exist among us,” Dozier said. “By telling these stories, you start to develop empathy for those around you. Phase one is all about understanding the people around you and starting to break down the walls so that we can have more fruitful conversations about race.”
In the second phase, the group examines the conditions of race relations within their own community. During the final phase of the Welcome Table, the group members undertake projects that can help bridge the divide in their community, such as implementing after school programs for children and organizing public ceremonies that acknowledge difficult moments in racial history.
The Welcome Table SC, while new to the state, is based on the Welcome Table model developed by the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi.
“We saw that the model they were using was very effective at being able to help facilitate the kinds of conversations that we felt very strongly are needed not only internally, but maybe even to a greater degree externally,” said Dozier.
The University of Mississippi has been conducting these discussions since 1997, when President Clinton began a national conversation about race. In 1999, the Winter Institute was founded, and in 2004, the first Welcome Table process took place in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Partially because of community discussions facilitated by the Welcome Table, Ku Klux Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen was brought to justice in connection with the 1964 slaying of three civil rights workers, William Winter officials have said.
“We think the Welcome Table works so well because people are learning about their differences, and they’re learning about all the concepts related to race relations. We do a lot of relationship building and training in action,” said Portia Espy, director of community building at the Winter Institute. “Those relationships help them to build bridges that are strong enough to hold the truth of what they will encounter going forward.”
Mississippi, a state notorious for its strained racial relations, has many small communities that are separated by physical structures, such as train tracks, that act as racial dividing lines.
“We’ve seen people who have never in the past crossed over those lines forming friendships and doing things together outside of Welcome Table, like going to one another’s homes when they would not have done that in the past,” Espy said.
Espy remembers one instance when a white man, whose family had previously owned a plantation, met an African American woman with the same last name: members of her family had been slaves at this plantation.
“Now, he invites this young woman to all of his family gatherings,” Espy said. “And he said that if it hadn’t been for Welcome Table, he doesn’t know that he would have taken that step.”
Charles T. “Bud” Ferillo, coordinator for USC’s South Carolina Collaborative for Race and Reconciliation, says that even though race can be a sensitive topic, it’s a conversation that needs to happen.
“The country’s been going through a series of racial turmoil for the last several years,” Ferillo said.
Plans for Welcome Table SC, have been in the works since last summer. Ferillo says he’s raised $100,000 so far and hopes to raise an additional $100,000 to bring the program to additional parts of the state. Camden and Orangeburg have already expressed interest.
“Not every community is ready to have these conversations,” Ferillo said. “And that’s ok.”
He said that these talks are not meant to push any agenda and that though the talks will be difficult, “many are willing to go through the conversations because at this point it’s the right thing to do.”
“The conversations have a transition point,” Dozier said, “where they move from being just conversations to the groups thinking about the ways that they can promote some racial reconciliation through their own communities or spheres of influence.”
“They have to look at their communities honestly, and ask, ‘Is my community equitable for all people?’ And if not, ‘What can I do to change that? How can I be an instrument of change?’” Espy said. “The people who do stay with the Welcome Table… we’ve heard nothing but praises from them about the conversations and the level of conversations that they’ve been able to have with people in their communities.”
“This is a long-awaited process in South Carolina, and it’s going to take a lot of soul-searching and courage on the part of the participants,” Ferillo said. “But I believe firmly that now is the time in South Carolina to make a move on these issues before they become intractable.”
The first Welcome Table will meet begin meeting in October in Hamilton College, where students, faculty and staff will gather to share their personal experiences, and as a result, perhaps begin to end the divisions that have defined the state for much of its history.
Each group will meet five or six times, depending on the group, for two hours. Each meeting’s target attendance is 18 people.
“These stories get to the root of that (division) and all of the various ways that we can see ourselves, and allows us to see and recognize the commonalities we have as a group but also to recognize and appreciate the differences we have,” Dozier said.
In an April 2016 Winthrop University poll on race relations in South Carolina, blacks and whites agree that both races are to blame for the current racial climate. And about 70 percent of respondents agreed that both blacks and whites need to change before relations can get better. Officials believe these conversations could be the much needed first step.
If you are interested in participating, you can sign up for a group at the website:
Columns article posted by SC Press Association on October 5th, 2016
By Phil Noble
This the second of a three-part series on how new demographics, economic and political trends are rapidly changing South Carolina.
I’m convinced that there is a New South Carolina being born. This New South Carolina is a very different state from our traditional past and it holds great promise for us and our children for generations to come if, and it’s a big if, if we are smart enough and bold enough to seize this unique opportunity.
We can create a New South Carolina that can be globally competitive in the 21st Century and benefit all South Carolinians.
The question is will we?
Last week’s column in this space focused on the people of this New South Carolina. It was sparked by a special issue of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People that included four South Carolinians: Sen. Lindsay Graham, Jennifer Pinckney wife of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Gov. Nikki Haley and comedian, writer and TV star Aziz Ansari. Graham and Pinckney both have deep South Carolina roots and represent ‘traditional’ South Carolina – black and white. Haley and Ansari are ‘new’ South Carolinas – both first generation children of Indian immigrants, smart, media savvy and driven to succeed in a new more culturally diverse environment.
And just as these people represent a New South Carolina, so too is our economy going through dramatic changes – we now have an economy that would have been unrecognizable to most South Carolinians less than a generation ago.
Today, there are three big changes that have/are transforming our state’s economy: foreign investment, digital innovation and new economic leadership.
First the foreign investment. South Carolina leads the nation in per capita direct foreign investment. There are over 1,200 international business facilities in our state – more than there are public schools. We are now home to major global companies such as BWW, Volvo, Daimler Benz, Michelin, Haier, Giti Tire and countless others. This foreign investment in South Carolina employs more people per capita than in any state in the country.
Where once the biggest impact on our economy was the change in cotton prices on the commodity exchanges in Memphis or Chicago; today, it’s the fluctuations on the global currency exchanges in Hong Kong and London – and the rising demand for consumer imports by China and India.
The second big economic change is the impact of the digital economy. One simple statistic: in Charleston alone there are over 300 digital businesses and the growth rate of these new digital companies is 26% faster than the national average. The average wage in these new digital businesses is nearly three times that of the traditional tourism and hospitality industry.
This new digital economy demands smart people, with high levels of creativity, gender and cultural diversity and a world view unbounded by state or even national boundaries. This is not traditional South Carolina.
The third big change is in the demographics of our economic leadership. One astute observer recently noted that a few years ago the state’s economic leadership was essentially the ten whitest men in the ten biggest corner offices on the top floor of the ten tallest buildings in the state. And, when these men decided what they thought ought to be done, they called in the (white male) governor and the legislative leaders and told them what to do … and they largely did it.
Now, our state’s economic leadership is found in 250+ low rise office parks; there are lots of women, people of color and folks who did not go to USC or Clemson. They look different, think different and are different – and this is a good thing.
The huge challenge we face in the New South Carolina is: 1) providing our people with the skills they need to be competitive in this new global economy and 2) overcoming the provincial political leadership that is holding back the changes required to be competitive.
In a recent conversation with one of our state’s top economic development leaders, he estimated that as many as 80% of the new jobs being created by the new global businesses locating in our state are being filled by people who move to our state – simply because there are not enough skilled South Carolinians to do these jobs.
Think about that for a moment – more than 80% of these new jobs are beyond the current skill levels of South Carolinians … and it’s only going to get worse as the trend toward increasingly tech based jobs escalates.
And the other great barrier is our current political leadership that simply does not realize – or does not care – about making the changes that need to be made to make our state competitive.
If one were to devise a legislative agenda to stifle economic progress it would be: 1) neglect education so our people won’t have the job skills required, 2) ignore our crumbling roads and other infrastructure so that SC businesses were placed at a competitive disadvantage and 3) perpetuate a corrupt political system based on personal greed and special interest lobbyists – instead of a comon agenda based on doing what needs to be done to make our economy competitive.
The struggle of the old and the new – this pretty much describes the economy in South Carolina today.
The birth of ‘the new’ is often – if not usually – difficult and painful.
Our transition to a New Economy and a New South Carolina is no different.