School board member’s remarks were appalling
I was appalled and angered by the remarks Johnston school board member Keith Branch made about funding driver’s ed.
Mr. Branch said, “There’s a lot of people, honestly guys, who get free and reduced lunch who could afford lunch better than I could for my kids.” This degrading stereotype is an old, tired rehash of the “welfare queen” garbage. Does he not realize there is a means test for the program? Most of these kids have a tough enough time without a county official being labeling them as moochers.
As for Mr. Branch’s remark that poorer students don’t really need driver’s ed, maybe he should learn that kids in poorer households tend to get jobs quicker than others. Maybe he should realize that many are OK with driving a $500 beater if it means bringing more money into the household. Not everybody buys expensive cars.
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Mr. Branch owes an apology to the students, their parents and the county for making such remarks.
Are they for or against eminent domain?
In response to, or at least inspired by, Jim Davenport’s recent letter urging voters to focus on the issues rather than the distractions of this election campaign, I would like to highlight one particularly ironic twist in the course of the campaign with local significance.
Most will recall the debate earlier this year over the issue of eminent domain as it related to the proposed site of a CSX intermodal transfer hub in Selma. Landowners and business owners in the area led an admirable (and ultimately successful) community-organizing effort in defense of private property rights in the face of corporate and political power.
This past Thursday night, the same land and business owners who led the opposition to the CSX plan hosted a campaign event for Donald Trump, who himself has a long and consistent history of using eminent domain to attempt to acquire private property for the use and benefit of his private businesses.
As recently as this year’s GOP primary debates, he reiterated his unconditional support for eminent domain. At other times in the past he has said that he “100 percent” supports it, thinks that it is “wonderful” and that homeowners mostly fight eminent domain because “they just want money.”
After such an impassioned defense of private-property rights earlier this year, it is surprising to see the same individuals endorse a candidate who staunchly defends eminent domain for private use and belittles private-property owners who happen to lie in the way of a billionaire’s private development plans.
Wording on ballot troubles voter
The following statement appears on the Nov. 8 ballots in Johnston County:
“C: If you tear, deface or wrongly mark this ballot, return it to request a replacement.”
This is a broad statement that might be interpreted to throw out ballots on weak grounds. For instance, if any mark is made on the ballot other than filling in one circle for a candidate or writing in a candidate’s name on the line provided, or marking the wrong number of names where there are multiple choices, your ballot might not be accepted. My district has a total of 36 candidates who have to have the little circle filled in completely and carefully. Some people might not fill in all required circles perfectly, and this might see their vote discarded.
Voters and the public need to be advised of this “law” and how it might affect their vote.
Why hasn’t any coverage been given to this new wrinkle on our ballots?
Selma Elementary earns her praise
I have followed with interest the discussion surrounding the academic growth (or lack there of) of the schools in Smithfield and Selma. As a veteran teacher in Johnston County, I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to the teachers and administration at Selma Elementary School.
I am well aware of the terrific pressure educators are under to produce excellent test scores. This is a very difficult task, even under the best of circumstances. The teachers and administrators at Selma Elementary have achieved excellent results. They have done so despite the many challenges that are unique to their student population. The hard work, encouragement and, most important, the love these teachers must have provided to their students is commendable and reflected in their terrific growth.
The current rating scale used for schools is misleading and disheartening. Scores like those achieved at Selma Elementary come only with huge investment by the staff. I for one am proud to call the dedicated, hardworking staff and administration of Selma Elementary my colleagues.