Welcome to a new feature by SIREN Legislative Tony Tanner looking at key legislative matters at the local and state level.
These two bills have passed, not in favor of the people but of continuing the status quo to disenfranchise minority students in Spartanburg County. They are heading to the Governor’s Office for his signature.
Currently, both District 5 and District 7 are comprised of a mix of single-member districts and multi-member districts. In D7, the single-member districts are in predominately Black neighborhoods, while the rest is a large, predominantly white multi-member district. District 7 has a majority Black student population.
These status quo bills also allow members to live in the same neighborhoods. A 1993 court ruling has benefited one side of town through 30 years of redistricting in District 7; District 5 has not fared much better.
Equal representation is needed for our students to thrive, and our School Board members should live in the many different communities of a school district instead of several of them dwelling in the same community or neighborhood.
The single-member maps that the West Spartanburg NAACP (for D5) and we at SIREN (for D7) support allow for equitable input on the education for all students in both school districts. Our elected officials have deprived our students of a better education while setting them back economically and socially.
District 7 is the worst ranked regarding the grand multi-member district compared to the single-member districts concerning school readiness in third-grade reading and math, along with eighth-grade reading and math. White students continue to benefit from this, including the slight decline during COVID.
Rep. Max Hyde attended the first public forum on April 4 at the urgent request of Rep. Rosalyn Henderson-Myers. Only those two of the 15-member delegation attended and listened.
Hyde mentioned, “If one district can vote to have a single-member district, then this will set a precedent for others to do so.” But on March 15, Hyde and 10 of the 15 Spartanburg County Legislative Delegation members voted to give Dorchester County School Board District 2 the opportunity to be an entire single-member district. That bill, H. 3961, is a bipartisan effort sponsored by a Republican and endorsed by both Democrats and Republicans.
The precedent has been set, and our local delegation has recognized the need for Dorchester County to become an all single-member school board district.
To them, we ask: Please recognize the needs of your own constituents wanting single-member representation.
H. 4289 and H. 4290 (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Higher Education)
Bills H. 4289 and H. 4290 were introduced by four Freedom Caucus members, all of whom are part of the Spartanburg County Legislative Delegation, working in tandem to prohibit Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs, training, and funding from existing in the state of South Carolina.
Not only are they attempting to defund DEI programs and training, but these lawmakers would also prohibit programs/businesses from complying with specific federal requirements. Not complying with federal requirements for DEI training could cause their constituents to be subdued to uncomfortable or hostile situations.
The DEI programs, training, and employment disclaimers have not harmed the working environment; on the contrary, DEI has educated and uplifted all races, genders, ethnicities, and national origins in the workplace and interpersonally.
Historically, jobs have discriminated against minorities, and these requirements make provisions to ensure that no one may be discriminated against. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are crucial to company and higher education culture because they foster creativity, fresh perspectives, and understanding.
By implementing DEI, people of different races, abilities, ages, genders, religions, sexual orientations, and other diverse backgrounds may have a more comfortable workplace and place of learning.