South Carolina

SC politics: Education board rejects changing how biology is taught

Education board won’t change biology standards

The state Board of Education has rejected a proposal to change how biology is taught in S.C. schools.

The board met Wednesday to discuss a proposal to require biology students to study arguments for and against evolution, The Post and Courier of Charleston reported.

State Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, recommended the new proposal, saying students should learn other theories.

Fair, a Republican, has argued against teaching natural selection as fact. “There’s another side,” he said in April. “I’m not afraid of the controversy.”

The board’s rejection of the new proposal means South Carolina will keep the biology standards that have been in effect since 2005.

The president of South Carolinians for Science Education, College of Charleston biology professor Rob Dillon, said he is pleased with the board’s decision.

“I was very gratified by the support for rigorous science education that came from the State Board of Education,” Dillon said.

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Haley: Democrat OK as interim lieutenant governor

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday she has no issue with having a Democrat temporarily residing in the lieutenant governor's office.

“We need to have a lieutenant governor,” Haley said.

Haley said she needs to know who to call when she is leaving the state and in case of an emergency.

“Regardless of who it is, I will let the Senate decide that,” she said.

Democratic state Sen. Yancey McGill of Williamsburg is the only senator to publicly express interest in giving up his seat for a six-month interim stint as lieutenant governor. He would succeed Republican Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, who is expected to resign next week to start work as president at the College of Charleston.

No Democrats hold statewide office in South Carolina.

“Sen. McGill is a great person,” Haley said. “We've always gotten along great. I wouldn't have an issue with it.”

Voters already are scheduled to elect a new lieutenant governor in November.

Biden attends fundraiser for Sheheen

Vice President Joe Biden dropped by a D.C. fundraiser for Democratic gubernatorial challenger Vincent Sheheen on Wednesday, a state party spokeswoman confirmed.

Biden's visit, first reported by Politico, came at an event featuring Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.

Biden and O'Malley, a pair of 2016 White House hopefuls, appear to be locked in a battle to see who can get more love from Democrats in South Carolina, the first state in the South with a presidential primary.

Biden, who vacations on Kiawah Island, was the keynote speaker at the state Democratic party's Jefferson-Jackson dinner in 2013 and headlined a party fundraiser last month before delivering the commencement address at the University of South Carolina.

O'Malley addressed state delegates at a breakfast during the Democratic National Convention in 2012, spoke at a party issues conference in 2013 and headlined a fundraiser for Sheheen, a state senator from Camden, in Charleston last month in Charleston.

Scott wants audit of S.C. veteran facilities

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott on Thursday asked the Veterans Administration for information about its S.C. facilities, telling the acting department secretary that he continues to be troubled.

“I am concerned South Carolina’s veterans may not be getting the best possible care,” Scott, R-S.C., said in a letter to Sloan Gibson. “I know you agree with me that while we owe our veterans a debt that we cannot repay, the least we can do is ensure nothing but the best care for them and their families.”

Scott’s request is similar to those made by senators in other states, hoping to bring to light information about their local VA facilities. Earlier this year, after reports about veterans dying while awaiting appointments, Scott and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called for an independent investigation into “reported mismanagement, incompetence and corruption” at the VA.

A report by the VA’s inspector general found that 1,700 Phoenix-area veterans were “at risk of being lost or forgotten” after being kept off the official waiting list. Officials have confirmed that 18 other veterans whose names were kept off the list have also died.

In his letter to Gibson, Scott asked for:

•  Monthly backlog totals for each VA facility in South Carolina

•  Details of any “secret” or unauthorized waiting list in the state

•  The number of S.C. patient deaths related to any delay in care.

•  Information on bonuses and awards for senior staff at S.C. VA facilities since January 2009.

Scott told Gibson he wanted the information on South Carolina’s facilities by June 20.

Andrew Shain, The Associated Press