Schools chief is home-schooler

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COLUMBIA --- A mother who backs conservative education policies and home-schools her four daughters has been elected head of the board that oversees South Carolina's public schools.

Maguire  Associated Press
Associated Press
Maguire

Kristin Maguire, 39, of Clemson, S.C., was voted chairwoman-elect of the State Board of Education on Wednesday, which means she is to become chairwoman in 2009.

She becomes the nation's only home-schooler to head a state board overseeing public schools, according to the National Association of State Boards of Education and the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.

Ms. Maguire is a county Republican leader and co-founder of South Carolina Parents in Education, a group that pushes for abstinence education, taxpayer dollars spent on private schools and the teaching of intelligent design, which is a theory that the universe's order and complexity is so great that science alone cannot explain it.

She said home-schooling her children, ages 8 to 14, has nothing to do with her being on the board and brushed aside questions about that decision.

"That's pretty much off the record; that's out of bounds," Ms. Maguire said.

She said she attended public schools and is the daughter of a public schoolteacher, and she sought the position at the helm of the 17-member board "to make sure public schools are the best they can possibly be."

"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 eking along," she said.

Ms. Maguire said her biggest goal is to ensure that every child can read by third grade. The Clemson University engineering graduate also wants to make sure children receive high-quality science and math education.

Members of the state Education Board elect the chairperson and are charged with approving education standards taught in classrooms, what textbooks are used and how teachers are certified.

Ms. Maguire took a seat on the board in 2000 after being elected by local lawmakers. She was reappointed in 2004 by Republican Gov. Mark Sanford and has supported his proposal to use public money to help students attend private schools. Asked about her stance on the issue Wednesday, Ms. Maguire said she would leave that subject to the Legislature.

Board member Rick Adkins, of Anderson, S.C., said he voted for Ms. Maguire because she is so well-prepared to discuss agenda items at the board's monthly meetings. He credited her with successfully pushing the board to approve more stringent math standards that require third-graders learn their multiplication tables to 12, rather than to nine.

"That hit me personally," said Mr. Adkins, the father of third-grade twins. "Her personal views and what she does with her children is her choice."

Ms. Maguire actively supported state schools Superintendent Jim Rex's Republican opponent last year. She said Wednesday that was election politics, and she's past it.

Dr. Rex said it's too early to tell the impact of the election. Other Democrats were quick to criticize.

"Having Kristin 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?" said state Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler.

Ms. Maguire's second term on the board ends Dec. 31, 2008, but Mr. Sanford is expected to reappoint her. Most board members rotate off after four years, and it's time for Ms. Maguire to give someone else a chance to serve, said former state schools Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum.

"While she does read the material and come prepared, she represents an extreme, right-wing view. She looks at every decision by the board through a right-wing lens," said Mrs. Tenenbaum, a Democrat who frequently clashed with Ms. Maguire on issues including sex education and teaching evolution.

"Unfortunately, she doesn't have children in public schools and is allowed to stay longer than anyone," Mrs. Tenenbaum said. "So many times, something needed to be passed and was held up just because I recommended it and was a Democrat."

The board's nominating committee preferred Trip DuBard, a Florence businessman with three children in public schools. He was voted down 9-7.

Ms. Maguire was elected on a voice vote.

"I supported Trip because of his total support of public education," said board member Diane Sumpter, of Columbia.

Children who are home-schooled represent a tiny percentage of students, and the board should be led by someone who represents the majority, she said.

KRISTIN MAGUIRE


AGE: 39


RESIDENCE: Clemson, S.C.


HOMETOWN: Clarendon Hills, Ill.


EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in engineering, Clemson University


EXPERIENCE: Took seat on state Board of Education in 2000 after election by local legislators, reappointed in 2004 by Gov. Mark Sanford; member of the state Public Charter Schools Association's Advisory Board; co-founder of the conservative activist group Parents Involved in Education


FAMILY: Married, four daughters


-- Associated Press

Comments (41) Add comment
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old1
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old1 12/13/07 - 07:49 am
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What a slap in the face to

What a slap in the face to all public educators with this appointment.

CKB
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CKB 12/13/07 - 08:04 am
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If she does not believe in

If she does not believe in the public school system enough to send her own children, why does the people appointing her to this position think she has ANY qualifications to run the system? Surely they had people in public education qualified for the position. Sad to see this happen.....

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 12/13/07 - 08:06 am
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It's so refreshing when a

It's so refreshing when a board would prefer production instead of the herd instinct. A whole year without the dumbing down effort. A breath of fresh air to honest educators.

tdp
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tdp 12/13/07 - 08:37 am
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We should see how well she

We should see how well she performs before we judge this situation.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 12/13/07 - 08:46 am
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I salute you, Ms. Maguire.

I salute you, Ms. Maguire. Best wishes in your chairmanship!

AGR354
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AGR354 12/13/07 - 09:04 am
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she has no business being on

she has no business being on the Board, much less being its chair.

fedupcitizen
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fedupcitizen 12/13/07 - 09:12 am
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I have to agree with Carol

I have to agree with Carol Fowler on this one. How can someone who doesn't trust the public school system enough to put her own children in it be expected to make fair, reasonable decisions in that position. Thank goodness my children are not in the S.C. school system.

fedupcitizen
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fedupcitizen 12/13/07 - 09:12 am
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I have to agree with Carol

I have to agree with Carol Fowler on this one. How can someone who doesn't trust the public school system enough to put her own children in it be expected to make fair, reasonable decisions in that position. Thank goodness my children are not in the S.C. school system.

truthteller
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truthteller 12/13/07 - 09:26 am
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Another sorry example of

Another sorry example of Republicans putting unqualified political cronies in positions of authority. South Carolina's students and teachers deserve better than this.

DeborahElliott2
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DeborahElliott2 12/13/07 - 09:30 am
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I homeschooled my kids, now

I homeschooled my kids, now they got stuck in a class where they left off because the Board refused to test them, and they are bored with their classes. If not for the stupidity of the school system to begin with, I would never have had this problem!

neversurprised
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neversurprised 12/13/07 - 10:03 am
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Maybe she doesn't send her

Maybe she doesn't send her kids to public school because of the unruly children there. It is hard to learn when you can't hear.

lovingthelake
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lovingthelake 12/13/07 - 10:15 am
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It's the fact that she does

It's the fact that she does homeschool her children that is important. This lady sees the problems of public schools; maybe she can do something about them. Let's not forget that it's about the children's welfare. Public schools are in serious trouble!

lovingthesouth72
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lovingthesouth72 12/13/07 - 10:20 am
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Awesome! She will bring fresh

Awesome! She will bring fresh air to the education system and straighten things out. The whole point her kids aren't in the school system is because it needs fixing, so she is there to do that.

noway
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noway 12/13/07 - 11:35 am
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patricia, your right-wing

patricia, your right-wing craziness is amazing! The woman doesn't even have her own children in the public schools and she's going to lead the public schools, but doesn't have confidence in the system she is over? It has nothing to do with her crazy right wing beliefs either, I don't care if she's a left-wing nut, she home-schools her kids. It makes no sense - SC continues to go backwards. And she's been on the board how long, nothing has improved and she's still homeschooling her kids? kooky.

AGR354
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AGR354 12/13/07 - 11:41 am
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I find it amazing that a lot

I find it amazing that a lot of the people who home school their children can’t fit into society. They can’t function at work, so they use the accuse of home schooling to quit a job they fell is beneath them and then they take their children out of School, both Public and Private. After about 3 months of home schooling they then become expert educators. Yet they have no clue what education is.

A big joke in college was that some female students were working on their MRS Degree. In other words they were in college to get a husband. For example they would major in elementary education and then not student teach. This is a crime. First of all they took much needed space away from student who wanted an education to improve their lives and also the lives of others. They also in most cases received loans, grants and scholarships that could have been better invested in students that would use the education to better society.

The phrase” well rounded education” means what it says. Home schoolers tend to focus more on the 3 Rs of education, but not teaching their children to function in modern society. Home schoolers do well at spelling bees, but they tend to be loners. Parents who home school their children might need to consider what is best in the long run for their children.

tombee
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tombee 12/13/07 - 11:45 am
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BRAVO. This is about

BRAVO. This is about EDUCATION, not public or private or this school or that school. Education is about the interaction between child and teacher and certain homeschool teachers are gifted, just as other teachers are. This lady certainly must be among them. You folks need to lighten up. Is the rule that the best qualified should get every job, except for this one??

CoastalDawg
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CoastalDawg 12/13/07 - 12:04 pm
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Although I personally believe

Although I personally believe that most school boards are in desperate need of some outside oversight, it seems that electing a person who does not participate in the process is like asking a wolf to attend your herd of sheep. How can this individual have any idea of what has gone on withing the schools without having had her children participate? Remember the last president who fled to Russia to avoid serving in the military? We then elected him commander in chief and he had no idea how to properly and lawfully use the military. In a few years, will the SC BOE be wondering how they got to the point the could well reach with a non participant heading the group?

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7690
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 12/13/07 - 12:37 pm
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Sometimes it takes someone

Sometimes it takes someone from outside to see the problems inside. Most homeschoolers have very high standards and the SC school system has nowhere to go but up, and could use those standards now. Your latest Heisman Trophy winner was homeschooled.

saxrunner
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saxrunner 12/13/07 - 12:53 pm
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Now that she is in charge,

Now that she is in charge, will her daughters attend schools in "her" system?!? If not, she is a major HYPOCRITE!!!!

shivas
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shivas 12/13/07 - 01:08 pm
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Now South Carolina children

Now South Carolina children can dispell those lies about evolution and learn some intelligent design. You know, there are no facts to support intelligent design, but gosh, somebody special had to be responsible. Those big old fossils you find aren't really dinasaurs but actually the ax handles of the intelligence that designed the earth, which by the way is flat. The earth is only 3000 years old, and carbon dating does have a .0000000001 chance of error. Let's teach children what we want to be true, rather than facts. Even Kansas has kicked-out intelligent design theory.

illini
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illini 12/13/07 - 01:11 pm
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Now there is a ringing

Now there is a ringing endorsement and a vote of confidence for public schools. Typical repsonse from Maquire, "What do I care, it doesn't effect my kids?"

142
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Dan White 12/13/07 - 01:49 pm
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I don't blame her. If I had

I don't blame her. If I had kids of school age, I would home school them too. Children in our public schools are out of control. There is a principal of an elementary school in Richmond County who was kicked in the knee by a 5th grader recently and she had to stay home from work to recover and also get an MRI. Coaches cheating, kids out of control, teachers molesting students. Failing schools not meeting AYP - what a mess they are overall. Yes, there are a few bright stars out there, but overall, we are in trouble. Maguire will bring even more credibility to the home school phenomenon because parents are sick and tired of the children being out of control in the schools. God bless our teachers who try and bring order out of chaos.

142
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Dan White 12/13/07 - 01:57 pm
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Patricia - it seems you and I

Patricia - it seems you and I agree on this one! AGR - tell me how good it is for kids to fit in! Kids shooting one another in Las Vegas in the schools. And yes, that kid who shot up the church Sunday was homeschooled - but it shows the horrible influence of our society. He was influenced for evil according to his website by the shooters at Columbine - so the public school disaster there even influenced this home schooled kid for evil. Most homeschooled kids fit in just fine through home school associations and many of the parents have their children involved in youth activities in the community such as church and rec ball. Recently, a home schooled girl from Columbia Co. was awarded a tennis scholarship to a college. If home school is done right, the curriculum is more rigorous and there are no discipline problems or fights to disrupt the learning enviornment - kind of like it was when I was in the public schools long ago.

142
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Dan White 12/13/07 - 02:00 pm
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Oh, and one more thing - Bill

Oh, and one more thing - Bill and Hillary sent Chelsea to a private school because of the anarchy in the public schools in D.C. and yet they present themselves as champions of the public school teacher unions and the public school system.

sanders20
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sanders20 12/13/07 - 02:58 pm
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this will all but keep SC in

this will all but keep SC in the bottom of the education ring..

AGR354
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AGR354 12/13/07 - 02:59 pm
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Home Schoolers have

Home Schoolers have opportunities for scholarships, high school rodeo, 4-H, and certain sports organizations help students no mater where or how they are educated. There are also academic scholarships for home schoolers. Trouble in schools is not a recent occurrence. Only the over abundance of coverage by the news media and our need for news coverage as entertainment has made violence in school look like a resent occurrence. Study local school systems, you might find that many things happened before our generations that were not reported. I find it strange that students are safer at school or on the way to school than they are at home.

I agree that if home school is done right or for that matter Public or Private school is done rate they are a wonderful thing. But the reason a large percentage of student are home school is what I said in my second comment today. They and there parents just don’t fit in. And you can in a crowd of young people spot the home schoolers.

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 12/13/07 - 07:15 pm
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There sure a lot of graduates

There sure a lot of graduates of government schools posting here today. I say the system needs work.

About Time
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About Time 12/13/07 - 07:54 pm
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This has the potential to be

This has the potential to be the best news I have heard in a long time! Homeschoolers generally harbor a far greater respect for education; and I cannot imagine a better candidate than someone who likely shares such a committed passion for the state of education, not just for her own children, but for everyone.

I think such passion in a sea of bureaucracy is an incredible opportunity and I wish this woman and the entire state of South Carolina the future they deserve.

On the other hand, though, the woman in Nashville or Memphis that plays dual roles of homeschooling and running a board of education poorly represents both sides of the equation.

Hopefully Mrs, Maguire will rise to the occasion much better!

dont live there anymore
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dont live there anymore 12/13/07 - 08:47 pm
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Snubby I agree. She must be

Snubby I agree. She must be interested in the education of all children or she wouldn't spend her time on the Board. She is quite busy home schooling. She is obviously quite capable of doing both.

Bryt
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Bryt 12/13/07 - 08:50 pm
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This isn't that different

This isn't that different from when Suzanne Scott was running for Columbia County BOE and it come out her kids attended Augusta Prep. The backlash then cost her the election. For Mrs. Maguire to hold such a public office then say her private educational choices are "off-limits" is very egotistical of her. My question is: when the schools improve, is she going to send her girls there?

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