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Charter schools, by their very nature, have governing boards made up of parents. They’re publicly funded, which requires them to follow general state education rules and keeps teachers in the state system, but the schools also are independent operationally from county school boards. South Carolina has about 75, which is about 1% of the nation’s charter schools.

Brack

When an election for four board seats at one charter school came along, we read questionnaires filed by 10 candidates. They were somewhat interesting, but overall, they seemed pretty vanilla — somewhat informative but bland as reflections of the values of the candidates. The only thing that really was different is one guy filled out answers in all capital letters, which made his answers tough to read.

So because the forms included each candidate’s email address, we decided to send a simple question to get a little more perspective:

Q: Are you vaccinated? Yes or no. If you don’t answer the question, I won’t consider voting for you.

Whew, you’d think I was a communist or something.

Six of the candidates freely responded they had been vaccinated. One said it was the easiest question he had received in the relatively quiet world of charter school elections. Another said she’d been vaccinated, but was against vaccine mandates for students, which didn’t make much sense. And another wanted to know why I wanted to know — for personal voting reasons (yes) or to publish people’s answers (no).  

Another candidate wanted to know why I wanted to know, but never answered further. Two people didn’t answer.

And then there was this guy — the crank — who attacked:

Him: That is a personal medical question and has absolutely nothing to do with my candidacy. If you are so shallow and partisan as to think answering that question can in any way determine my ability to sit on the board, you my friend, are not the kind of person I am seeking for support.

Me: I obviously disagree. If you do not have a vaccine, you are ignoring science and are not, in my view, qualified to serve on the governing board of a school that needs to encourage students to get vaccinated. Being vaccinated is an investment in the future of our community. Being unvaccinated is an act of selfishness. 

Him: Wow, Andy you are so woke! Thank you for your brilliant observations.

Me: (Quoting from his questionnaire): “I can bring fresh ideas. My strength is that my decisions are based in reality.” Reality: 700,000+ COVID cases in S.C. 11,000+ deaths. 

Actually as of Oct. 7, the picture in South Carolina is bleaker. The confirmed number of cases of COVID-19 was 700,082, but state numbers classified another 171,929 as probable. Deaths totaled 11,141, but another 1,715 are probable. For every 100 COVID tests done, 8.5 are positive — a rate that indicates the virus is still swirling and dangerous in South Carolina, a state with one of the lowest vaccination rates and a don’t-tell-me-to-wear-a-mask syndrome that offers a fertile environment in S.C. for the deadly delta variant of the virus to keep infecting people.

We get it, South Carolina: You don’t like being told what to do. It’s been that way since before Christopher Gadsden developed the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag during the Revolutionary War.

But as a citizen, you have a responsibility beyond yourself to pull together to make your community safe and stronger. Right now, 53% of South Carolinians age 12 and over (2.3 million people) have been fully vaccinated and another 8% have had one shot, according to state health officials. Imagine how much safer the Palmetto State would be if 80% were vaccinated.

Listen to your doctor. Get the shot. It’s safe. It’s effective. And it’s easy.  

Andy Brack is the publisher of the Charleston City Paper. Have a comment? Send to: feedback@charlestoncitypaper.com.