... Americans have been so busy "getting and spending" that they have ignored their own responsibilities in making the government responsive to the people it serves. We also have neglected to develop alternative sources of energy and be our own moral and ethical guard dogs instead of policing affairs that are not or should not be our business.
I will give you an example. Aiken County public schools recently furloughed at least 50 people, including several teachers. The result will be an even more significant decline in the quality of education in Aiken County, which had become a leader in innovative education.
One of the programs that factored into the furlough of so many people is the Teacher and Employee Retention program. How can rehiring a retired teacher under the auspices of the TERI program do anything else than permit the continuance of paying high salaries to individuals who are drawing retirement and then paying them in addition to retirement? Why didn't the district hire qualified graduates, although they are hard to find considering the poor quality of teacher-training programs? The key word is "qualified."
Another problem is the top-heaviness of the county office, where the administrators are territorial about their positions and salaries, and have little or no concern for effective academic leadership and sound financial planning.
This underscores another perhaps more subtle problem. With the lack of effective leadership comes a lack of ethics and morals. Some maintain that a school system is a microcosm of society. It is. Should you wonder why our students today lack moral values and ethics, look no further than the role models they have in the school and county administration, as well as in the faculty and paraprofessional staffs. Educators are just as much to blame as are the students' parents.
Americans need to take back what is theirs -- the government that was created to serve them. Americans also must become sound financial planners and assume responsibility for themselves and their children.
Victoria E. Antonacci
North Augusta, S.C.