Years ago, some genius up in the Pee Dee distinguished himself by busting up the family sedan, tagging mailboxes and the like as he careened through the deep, dark Carolina night. Halted by a flat tire, the teen attempted to blame the damage on a green lizard-like creature with glowing red eyes.
Mama didn't buy it, but the national news media was all over it. The Lizard Man captured the evening newscasts until the next freak show came along. I've come to refer to those times that South Carolina makes the news for something ridiculous as "Lizard Man moments."
Last week, I nearly suffered a concussion from shaking my head when I learned that a home-schooler and Sanford groupie was voted chairperson-elect of the state Board of Education.
Kristen Maguire, a Pickens County Republican Party hotshot and cofounder of South Carolina Parents Involved in Education, was first elected to the state school board in 2000 by her local legislative delegation. She was reappointed to her current term by Gov. Mark Sanford in 2004.
Here's a big surprise: Maguire's group advocates taxpayer-supported vouchers for private school tuition, school choice, and an intelligent design curriculum. Maguire was also an active campaigner for GOP candidate Karen "Vouchers" Floyd, who ran for state Superintendent of Education and came up short.
Maguire home-schools her four daughters, and when she assumes the chairmanship in January, she will be the only home-schooler in charge of a state board of public education in the United States. Hence, the head shaking.
When asked by The State about the incongruity between her choice for her children's education and her service on the state public school board, she sniffed, "That's pretty much off the record. That's out of bounds."
Uh, I'm gonna have to agree with S.C. Democratic Party chair Carol Fowler who issued a statement saying, "Having Kristen Maguire chair the state Board of Education is akin to Dick Cheney teaching a gun safety course ... What does a woman who home-schools her four children know about South Carolina public schools?"
Maguire defeated Fred "Trip" DuBard III of Florence 9-7 and sought the chair in order "to make sure public schools are the best they can possibly be." I guess for Maguire, that means keeping her little girls away from all those awful minority students.
She told The State, "I think we're at a critical point in education in our state going forward in making giant leaps and light-year strides rather than eeking along."
What the hell is that supposed to mean?
DuBard, a voucher opponent, told The Greenville News, "There's obvious division, at least on this board, but I don't think anyone's got a closed mind. As far as 'choice,' we'll have to see what happens."
S.C. Superintendent of Education Jim Rex commented, "I'm obviously going to keep a close eye on whether this board continues to be focused on public education and improvement efforts that are underway. I'm going to be optimistic and assume that's the case."
Board member Hampton Hubbard voted against Maguire: "The problem wasn't so much vouchers and her relationship with the governor, but for me it was the home-school thing."
Good to see someone is keeping his parsing skills sharp.
Board member Rick Adkins supported Maguire's candidacy because he credited her with the successful drive to require third graders to know their multiplication tables up to 12 from the previous standard of nine: "That hit me personally ... Her personal views and what she does with her children is her choice."
Right you are, sir! However, are her choices correct for the other children in South Carolina?
This ain't church. This is a pluralistic society. When are we going to learn?