121417 Politics: GOP wants candidates to bone up on party platform
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Politics: GOP wants candidates to bone up on party platform

By Emily Topper
Coastal Observer

As the 2018 elections draw nearer, the Georgetown County GOP wants to ensure that candidates running for local, state and national offices are both aware and aligned with the values of the Republican Party.

As part of an ongoing series, the club has been reviewing the South Carolina Republican Party platform and plans to ask candidates about their stances on the issues.

Among the 2018 elections are four seats for the Georgetown County School Board, including two at-large seats. While school board elections are non-partisan, the club hopes they will be able to find candidates who openly show support for the party’s values.

Adopted at the 2012 state convention, the platform for the party includes protection of states’ rights, the right to bear arms and the right to religious expression, including expression in public schools. The party platform is opposed to abortion, excessive government interference and unnecessary tax hikes.

From an education perspective, the party supports school choice, which allows parents to have more of a say in educational options for their children.

“Education is a very controversial issue. It shouldn’t be, but it is,” David Ellison, the county GOP’s second vice chairman, said. “It’s time for the GOP to push back and fight against the dumbing down of our kids.”

Karol Anderson, chairman for the Georgetown County GOP, said that the organization would want to meet with candidates, even though they are non-partisan.

“We would like to know how the candidates stand on the issues in the platform,” Anderson said.

School board members are elected to serve four-year terms. Club members said they were unsure if the club would support a candidate for any office who only supported part of the party’s education platform.

“As long as the conversation is open, and you can discuss it, that’s what we want. And then we’ll decide who we support,” Anderson said.

Ellison, a father of four, is an advocate for school choice. He believes that parents should have the primary say in how their children are educated.

“The way our country is founded, parents should be the primary educators and responsible for the education of their children,” he said. “The schools should emulate parental values, not push back against parental values. That’s the problem.”

The party platform’s stance on education supports voluntary prayer, mandatory reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, freedom of religious expression and supporting teachers through alternative certification programs and a system of merit pay.

In March, U.S. News and World Report ranked South Carolina dead last in education state rankings. In 2016, the state had a graduation rate of 84.6 percent.

Ellison said he believes the competition that arises from school choice will create better schools across the county and state.

“When you open up competition, then you have to compete for the values of the parents out there,” he said. “It’s amazing what competition does. I’m hopeful, I think there’s time.”

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