PBJ comment was not the real story

Feb. 27, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

To the Editor:

Who knew of the disdain that Lee County’s progressives would have toward our wheat, peanut, strawberry and grape farmers? This is no surprise, as the recent Convergent Nonprofit Solutions survey of our elite community leaders reveal the low regard held toward our agri-businesses, a segment of our economy that generates more than $235 million each year for Lee County and employs more than 4,000 people.

Why are the public schools in the feeding children business? Both my wife and I grew up bagging a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, as it was the responsibility of our parents to feed us, not the taxpayers. The poorly managed free and reduced school lunch program is rife with waste, fraud and abuse. Not to mention the meat products rejected by the fast food chains ends up being purchased by the USDA and distributed to the school lunch program. How healthy and wholesome is that?

What the Sanford Herald reporter missed was the admission by Board of Education Vice Chair Mark Akinosho, who stated, in so many words, that Lee County graduates students who are not proficient in math, reading and English! That should have been the headline, but somehow a comment about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches raised such a tizzy among our progressive neighbors.

Last year, the Central Carolina Works initiative was brought before a joint meeting of the chairs and vice chairs of Chatham, Harnett, and Lee counties. After the presentation by Kirk Bradley and [CCCC President] Bud Marchant, we surveyed the list of coursework offered and suggested targeting certain skill sets that would contribute to the future economic viability of our counties. Those skill sets were industrial systems technology, computer-integrated machining, criminal justice technology, automotive systems technology, engineering and mathematics, and life and health sciences. In addition, we did not want students attending who lacked the fundamental skills in math, reading and writing, as this continues to be a major drag on the development of our workforce.

Clearly what was reported was only part of the story. As always, I shall support the PBJ farmers of America!

Kirk D. Smith

(Editor’s note: Kirk Smith is a member of the Lee County Board of Commissioners.)