Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:


June 17

The Post and Courier on remembering the nine African American parishioners at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church who were massacred by a white supremacist:

Most of us remember where we were and what we were doing on the evening of June 17, 2015, when nine African American parishioners at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church were gunned down during a Bible study.

As the fifth anniversary arrives, it doesn’t feel like enough simply to remember that horrible crime, especially as a fresh wave of racial tension breaks over this country.

The latest unrest has been triggered by last month’s death of George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer. To many protesters, his death is part of a larger pattern, one that includes too many widely reported, hate-driven deaths of African Americans, including those killed by a white supremacist inside Emanuel.

So we need to remember more than that tragic day and those lives lost and irrevocably changed. We need to remember the goal of the pathetic criminal — to start a race war — and to rededicate ourselves to empathy, understanding and goodwill. We need to rededicate ourselves to fighting hate.

It is heartening to see so many survivors and relatives doing just that, in their own way.

As The Post and Courier’s Jennifer Berry Hawes reports, Tyrone and Felicia Sanders, who lost their son Tywanza, 26, find hope in his namesake foundation, which awards college scholarships and supports a camp for entrepreneurs. Jennifer Pinckney, widow of Pastor Clementa Pinckney, has focused on their daughters. The Rev. Anthony Thompson, who lost his wife, Myra, wrote a book, “Called to Forgive.” The Rev. Sharon Risher and Chris Singleton also have written books.

Rev. Thompson also speaks together often with survivor Polly Sheppard to spread the message about the power of faith. “That’s where I’m at now when it comes to remembering, it’s about helping people,” he told Ms. Hawes.

Those stories are just a slice of how they are picking up the pieces and trying to turn an unimaginable loss into something good, or at least not as bad.

Most of us did not have a family member inside Emanuel that evening, but we all share a sense of loss and grief. And on this anniversary, we all can do something in our own way to try to improve things, whether it’s forging new relationships, becoming more politically active or providing fresh support for a good cause.

There is hope that something good will come out of all this nation’s anguish over the death of Mr. Floyd and other tragedies, including the one that unfolded in downtown Charleston five years ago.

U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn told our Jamie Lovegrove essentially what so many others have said in recent weeks: This time feels different.

“I spend quite a bit of time researching and reflecting upon our country’s history, and I cannot think of any other time that this kind of reexamination has taken place,” Mr. Clyburn said.

This may indeed be a unique opportunity to make progress on matters of justice and equity — to help build a better America. In doing so, we should draw inspiration from the living victims of the Emanuel tragedy and the example they continue to set of empathy, love and hope.



June 15

The Times and Democrat on a possible shortage of teachers during the 2020-21 academic year:

Lawmakers are saying that education will remain at the top of the agenda for South Carolina amid the uncertainties brought on by the coronavirus crisis.

What also will be the same when “normalcy” returns, according to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, is a shortage of teachers.

Education leaders’ outlook for the 2020-21 academic year anticipates a widening gap in the supply of new teachers, according to the April 2020 survey conducted by the AACTE. The findings show 23% of respondents expect a decline in continuing education student enrollment of more than 10%, and 40% expect such a decline among new students.

The study on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting educator preparation programs was based on nearly 200 responses from individuals in leadership roles at colleges of education.

“Our survey examines the critical demands in teacher preparation as we continue to navigate the global health pandemic and prepare for the academic year beginning in the fall,” said Lynn M. Gangone, AACTE president and CEO. “The data generated in this report provide important benchmarks for building the teaching workforce. We view these findings as an important indicator of the increased challenges ahead and key factors for prioritizing our efforts to move our profession forward.”

Major findings include:

- Budget cuts due to both enrollment decreases and state funding cuts are a significant concern among respondents.

- Virtually all programs have transitioned to fully online instruction, using both synchronous and asynchronous methods.

- Faculty have received training in online instruction, and IT support has increased.

- Many institutions are providing devices for students as needed.

- Most states have waived clinical requirements, but as of April almost 40% of respondents reported that their state had not adjusted its assessment policies.

- Numerous respondents cited access to tests required for licensure as a significant challenge.

- Nearly half of respondents indicated that field placements (student teaching) have been discontinued for at least some of their students.

- Uncertainties regarding field placements for the fall are a significant concern of respondents.

- Three out of four respondents reported having candidates whose placements have been canceled and are available to assist PK-12 schools.

Exactly what the coming months will bring for schools remains unclear as yet, but the impact on teachers will be particularly acute. Will they be in the classroom? Teaching online? Both?

To make for a successful 2020-21, they’re going to need all the assistance they can get – from lawmakers, administrators, fellow teachers, parents and students.



June 14

The Index-Journal on confederate monuments:

Richmond, Virginia’s Monument Avenue is getting a bit of a facelift with the state’s governor, Ralph Northam, ordering the removal of the statue to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

A motorsport with deep roots in the South stemming from the days of running moonshine along winding mountainous roads at high speeds in an effort to shake off an officer’s pursuit has banned a symbol, the Confederate battle flag, that long was prevalent in race track stands and in the infields.

Just up the road in Anderson there is a Confederate monument. Some are calling for its removal. Why? These words that are etched in the monument’s base: “The world shall yet decide, In truth’s clear far-off light, That the soldiers who wore the gray, And died with Lee were in the right.”

And on Friday, Clemson University’s board of trustees voted to remove John C. Calhoun’s name from the Honors College, immediately renaming it The Clemson University Honors College. They also asked the Legislature to allow the school to return Tillman Hall to its original name, Old Main. The votes were unanimous.

But the monuments are about history, right? The wearing and waving of the battle flag is about heritage, right? And if you do not understand the thinking behind the Clemson board’s vote, may we suggest a Google search of the names John C. Calhoun and Benjamin “Pitchfork” Tillman.

As many Southerners mourn and shake their fists at Gov. Northam, whose own Eastern Shore of Virginia heritage includes slave ownership and whose position as governor was nearly crumbled because of a racist yearbook photo in which he posed, it might be good to pause and ask, What would Lee do? That’s Gen. Robert E. Lee. When the war was done, Lee admitted defeat and stood ready to furl the battle flag, put it away, move forward as one nation. Were he alive, he might have loudly insisted no monuments be erected in his honor in any state, much less his beloved Virginia. But the monuments came long after Lee and other Confederate generals had long passed.

And now many NASCAR fans, apparently more wrapped up in the sport’s redneck past than they are in rooting for their favorite driver, cry foul as they and drivers are told to keep the battle flag symbol off their properties. The more they cry about how the flag is about heritage and not hate, the more one has to wonder where they were when white supremacist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan held the flag high.

Our history, with all its stains, its bloodiness, its wrongheadedness, is indeed our history. We own it. We cannot deny it. Taking down monuments and disallowing flags and other symbols that show utter disregard for an entire segment of our nation’s citizens, even to the point of being a deliberate effort to provoke, will not change our history. What they might do, however, is change our perspectives and improve our relations.

Are we the United States of America? Truly? Are we all created equal and deserving of equal treatment not only under the law, but also and quite simply as human beings?

The past is the past and we can — and certainly should — learn from it. The past does not need be clung to, however, and as we learn from it we can better shape and reshape our future as a people, as a nation.

Rather than embracing a tainted past that, really, we should all feel shame about, we should keep it in proper historical perspective and forge ahead in an effort to build up our nation. For all its people.