The Dutch Fork reform team

The newest rising stars on the South Carolina political landscape didn’t win an election, nor did they run a major campaign (at least not yet) … heck, most of them aren’t even old enough to vote or run for office.

We’re talking about the students of Mrs. Kelly Payne’s civics class at Dutch Fork High School.

In the last few days, this bunch has gotten attention in the blogging world after they got a visit from our friends Representatives Nathan Ballentine and Nikki Haley. We decided to check them out after they got praise from Richard Eckstrom when he spoke down in the Lowcountry last week.

Every call we made confirmed this bunch is the real deal – they're fired up about the need for reform, doing their homework on the issues, and ready to get to work to shake things up. Their current focus is upon helping pass one of the most-needed legislative reforms – 100% roll call voting. They're written legislators and even talked about having “Transparency Day” at the State House to press the case for this important reform initative. As this issue is one near and dear to the Blogland, we appreciate their support.

What we see in this bunch of students kind of reminds us of this radical rabble-rouser who stirred the pot at James Island High School back in the mid-80s - a Mohawked half-nuts headbanger with a spray-painted army jacket and an intense attitude who spoke out about a state filled with corruption and inept leaders - and got involved in politics to help make a difference. Twenty years later, that nutcase is now running things in the Blogland (but the hair is a little longer these days).

We see that same fighting spirit in this bunch and we’re excited to see that they're ready to play a role in working for a better South Carolina. Our hats are definitely off to them and we hope to see a lot of them in the months and years ahead.

26 Response to "The Dutch Fork reform team"

  1. R 16/12/08 20:00
    The saying up here is, if you want to be somebody in politics, you've gotta go through Kelly Payne's class.
  2. Anonymous 17/12/08 08:41
    Our class has been studying the issue of recorded-voting. We feel strongly that this is a right of the citizens who elect their leaders to know how they have voted. Yesterday we read an op. ed in the Spartanburg Herald by Rep. Brad Hutto. It is always good to review all sides of an issue. After carefully reading what he wrote it appeared to us that he had already “chosen’” which side he was on and then thought up ways to rationalize his “side” to justify his position on Transparency.
  3. Current Issues Vigilantes 17/12/08 08:59
    Hutto’s argument is weak and an oversimplification of a VALID argument for transparency. As Einstein said, everything should be made as simple as possible. We simply need to have 100% Transparency, no ands ifs or buts. What Rep. Hutto is doing is supporting this Anti-transparency insanity because he is a liberal demo-CRAP who doesn’t want to be accountable for pork spending sprees with our TAXPAYER dollars. The psychology behind his justification shows he is clearly biased, resulting in a psychogenetic fallacy; therefore, his argument must be wrong!
  4. Smart Kid Grant 17/12/08 09:13
    Having already taken the class, and had face-to-face encounters with some big state politicians such as Richard Eckstrom. These "kids" know what they are talking about, and have become almost a de facto proving ground for local politicians. She probably has these "kids" more informed about politics than the politicians that they meet! I hope that this is the start of a spirit of transparency and political activism.
  5. Ryan Current Issues 17/12/08 09:28
    Our current issues class has had a chance to meet several very important and influential people in our state. It is not everyday that you get to meet the State Comptroller General “Richard Eckstrom”, the State Treasurer, “Converse Chellis”, Congressmen like Joe Wilson, State Representatives Ballentine and Haley, the Lieutenant Governor, Andre Bauer, the Irmo Police Chief and even Mayor John Gibbons who came to visit our class last year. We also get to meet other interesting people in our community like Dr. Grant from the USC school of Journalism in the college of Mass Communications. He discussed media bias in electronic journalism. We have learned that our “little voices” can make a difference, and to stand up for what we believe in, even if it is “controversial”.
  6. Anonymous 17/12/08 09:45
    I wonder how much Howard Rich paid to get these kids?

    Everone, meet Nikki and Nathan's newest brainwashees.
  7. Anonymous 17/12/08 09:52
    Kelly is a class act. Dutch Fork is lucky to have her, and her students surely benefit from all of her connections. If you run for office and your district includes the Dutch Fork High attendance area, it's a MUST that you pay a visit to Mrs. Payne's civics class.
  8. non-biased kids for the cause 17/12/08 10:47
    Howard Rich is a Libertarian and has the same interests in Transparency that we do! Come to think of it whatever ones political persuasion is, everyone ought to be more interested in the “non-partisan” issue of Transparency!! And BTW, please don’t use the word “brainwashees” lightly; reserve that for more serious historical atrocities like Stalin, Mao, Hitler, or even the Japanese rulers during the occupation of Korea in 1905. Let’s save the indoctrination argument for someone who really has been able to “control” people’s minds. Ours work just fine on our own!
  9. Terah Counts- DFHS 17/12/08 10:57
    It’s not everyday that high school students get to make a difference in a state. It doesn’t matter about the political party you prefer. For example if I were old enough to vote I would certainly vote for Obama, not just because of the color of his skin, and I am African-American, but for the changes he is willing to make in my country. The state of South Carolina has the right to know how our leaders vote, all the time, not “99%”of the time. If we are 1 out of 8 states that are still voting this way, why hasn’t there been a change? It probably is for some of the same reasons that our state has kept a “weak-governor” and a Budget and Control Board. Sorry Mr.Eckstrom b/c we do love you! Hopefully the students, including myself, of Dutch Fork High School can make a difference.
  10. Big I and LIttle J/ DFHS 17/12/08 11:11
    We are two young African Americans who are too young to vote but if we could we would have voted for Obama, however, we are not too young to speak out on this issue.
    We wouldn’t have voted for Obama just because we are African American, but because he stands for change and we support him. Reps Haley and Ballentine also stand for change and we support them and the public’s right to know how our lawmakers are voting. We think Obama would support this Transparency Bill based on what he stands for. This would be a positive change and reform for South Carolina.
  11. OLD SCHOOL 17/12/08 11:29
    As always, Earl, you hit the nail on the head. It's encouraging that with all the things SC's school system seems to be missing here's a teacher who gets it and teaches so effectively (i.e., motivates) by involving students in real world issues. That's an impressive talent. I think we'd see a big improvement in our state's low ranking if we looked to teachers like Ms. Payne for solutions. I tip my hat to her and her students.
  12. Anonymous 17/12/08 13:23
    http://lmirc.blogspot.com/

    "Service Above Self" Go Interact Club!
  13. DFHS Current Issues sophmore! 17/12/08 14:08
    What would happen to anyone who tried today to alter or abolish our government if it became destructive to the idea that government derives its powers from the consent of the governed?
  14. 4A Current Issues 17/12/08 14:18
    If two wolves and one sheep vote on what they’re going to have for dinner, what do you think the menu will look like? Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote! We need to protect the Majority which appears to be the Minority in our Legislature right now. !00% Recorded Voting- wishes of the real Majority- the People.
  15. Ebony Lee 17/12/08 14:20
    At the end of the day Ms.Haley and Mr. Ballentine were concerned that other Legislators may be intimidated to stand up for issues that they believe in. They are heroes for this cause in my opinion!
  16. harris county texas mg 17/12/08 20:57
    do what the speaker say do
  17. Stewart 17/12/08 23:18
    I am in Ms. Paynes class, and she is a great teacher. She has been informing all of her classes about how South Carolina is one of only eight states that does not have transparent voting. This is unfair to the citizens. If we do not know what our legislators are doing, how are we going to know why these things are happening in our state, or how we can change them. A man once said that the citizens are to stupid to realize what is going on. I say to him; if we are to stupid, then what is the difference if we know. This issue is extremely important, and an easy issue to fix.
  18. Jonathan 18/12/08 10:53
    I took Current Issues by Mrs. Payne in my freshman year and now I am a junior at Dutch Fork. My father is a patent attorney in town. Mrs. Payne has taught us how to speak out for what we believe in. She has helped us to understand about issues in government and politics. My favorite part about her class is when we debated current issues and were able to express our beliefs and opinions. Every high school student should take a class like this to stay current with important issues going on locally in the state, the nation, and internationally.
  19. A Standing Tuck 18/12/08 12:17
    What a great teacher this Kelly Payne must be to have students who are so devoted to her. Where was she when I was in high school?
  20. Cameron Duvall 18/12/08 14:03
    I participated in alive at 25 when it first started. I was at the State House when we initiated a press conference to create an Alive at 25 Bill. I helped my teacher organize supporters of the bill and program like Senator Joel Lourie who wrote the bill. Also in attendance for our press conference was our Lt.Gov. Andre Bauer, Comp. General Richard Eckstrom, Senator Courson, Senator Cromer, Rep. Ballentine, Sheriff Metts, Superintendent of Lex. 1 Dr. Karen Woodward, our “Former Superintendent” didn’t make it. Several of my friends that experienced the loss of our friends Megan Preston, Francis Ngyuen, and Grant Gallagher were also there with Ms.Payne. I was very close friends with kids that were killed in the second car accident that started the whole thing. I got to film a public service announcement for Alive at 25, which we filmed later that morning at the State House. I learned that Alive at 25 isn’t just about how to drive; it is a class that teaches you the importance of not being under the influence of alcohol and making good decisions. As a 16 year old young man in High School I realize that the opportunities that I have been exposed to don’t happen every day. I feel very fortunate to have experienced those opportunities that I will take with me forever in life. I come into Mrs. Payne’s class every day and say hey and it brightens my day. I have done this since last year. Thank you for letting others see what our school and class has been able to do! We all appreciate this post on your reputable Blog.Sincerely, Cameron Duvall
  21. reggie 18/12/08 22:22
    yay, more publicity!!!

    i enjoy being able to break the stereotype that is the american teenager, as those of us who actually care about stuff get thrown out with the bath water too often. thanks for the awesome review mr. capps!
  22. Sarah 19/12/08 08:18
    I’m a freshmen at Dutch Fork and I am in the interact club. I was really impressed with the Philharmonic director, Morihiko Nakahara. My friend joined the Interact club so she goes to the Rotary Club meetings every Wed. morning with me. Since she is very interested in the arts it made a huge impact on her. We went and saw his show. I had an opportunity to job shadow a Rotarian that was a vet. He happened to be the president of the Rotary Club as well. This was a good experience because I learned what to expect in the daily schedule of a veterinarian. Ms. Payne brought Alive @ 25 to the high school. This is an awesome class and I really think that every student should take it. After the class I walked away with so much more knowledge. Thank-you Ms. Payne for donating your Wal-Mart teacher of the year award money to put us through the class. Although I don’t think I want a career in politics I can appreciate the experience I have been exposed to. Thank-you for writing this story about us!
  23. Earl Capps 19/12/08 08:39
    Thanks for tuning in and stirring the pot a bit. Be sure to keep coming back and talking.
  24. Proud resident of SD 5 19/12/08 09:01
    I know that Ms. Payne has shared all points of view in her class. She encourages her students to get involved after deciding what they believe. She is developing thinking citizens. It appears that some people are afraid of thinking people.
  25. Anonymous 19/12/08 11:16
    It is really sad. These kids are tools and pawns, and so are you and your blog.
  26. Anonymous 22/12/08 08:26
    it seems to me like these kids have the right idea!

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