Advocacy in Action

Public schools in South Carolina, by any objective measure, are failing to educate a significant number of our children. It’s not the fault of any one child, teacher, parent, principal or superintendent. Rather, it is every citizen’s responsibility.

Members of the Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC) Board of Directors who crafted the below letter believe strongly that it is no longer acceptable, if it ever was, to remain silent on this issue. We will send this letter to leaders across the state as a first step in our efforts to provoke systemic improvement that results in significantly improved student outcomes.

We invite you to join us by adding your name to this letter as well. Please email Ashley Heffernan at to have your name included. Thank you for your support!


Anita Zucker
CEO of The InterTech Group and Chair of the TCCC Board of Directors

Dear South Carolina political, business and community leaders,

Together, we can do better. U.S. News and World Report ranks South Carolina 48th in the country for education, while our civic, business and faith leaders remain mostly silent. This is systems failure at its worst and at a very high cost in human potential. It is no longer acceptable, if it ever was to begin with.

Each year that we continue to accept the status quo, we continue to fail substantial numbers of our children and their families. We fail those educators making practically heroic efforts in our most challenging schools, and we fail those innovators, non-profits and donors whose efforts and potential get snuffed out or rendered unsustainable in a system under stress.

By law, the state is only required to deliver a “minimally adequate” education. We wouldn’t drive a BMW vehicle or fly in a Boeing aircraft deemed “minimally adequate,” so, why do we continue to accept that standard for our children whom we expect one day to build this state-of-the-art technology?

Together, we are taking ownership for public education and taking a stand to demand better from our school districts, school boards, legislators and decision makers.

To ensure our state’s quality of life and economic well-being, we will have to make equitable investments in public education and push new ideas and practices that work for students in poverty, even if it requires significant change to the system. To us, real equity recognizes that not all children and districts start in the same place, so providing support for our most challenged students and schools will require unequal investments and higher levels of expectation and accountability.

As was expressed in the recently released Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative Regional Education Report, we believe every school should have an excellent principal leading high-quality teachers who are setting high expectations for every child – no exceptions. Accountability standards, teacher pay and professional development must be made a priority. We also recognize the critical importance of what happens to a child early in life as a determinate of future success, which is why we support quality pre-school (3K and 4K) for all.

We know that every child can learn, and we know what is required in schools and classrooms to make that happen. It is past time for us to start providing schools the funds they need to provide a quality education, and if disruptive reform initiatives are necessary to make that happen, then it’s time for disruption. Accordingly, if you are running for governor, superintendent, mayor, county or city council, legislator or school board, we ask you to demonstrate that you understand this challenge and have a plan to address it.

We invite business, civic, faith and grassroots leaders as well as parents to join us by attaching your signature to this letter. With a collective voice, we can and must do better. Change won’t happen overnight, and it won’t be easy. We stand ready to do whatever it takes.



LB Adams, Practical Dramatics
Pearl V. Ascue, Community Volunteer
Mickey Bakst, Charleston Grill and Community Advocate
Kellie Barton, Parent
Josh Bell, Charleston Coalition For Kids
Patty Bennett-Uffelman, BEGIN WITH BOOKS
Paula Brady, SC Guardian Ad Litem
William H. Brown, University of South Carolina
Jonathan H. Butzon, Community Advocate and Member, State Board of Education
Jon Chalfie, Lee & Associates
Amanda Bunting Comen, South Side Bait and Tackle
Larsyn Runion Cross, Former Educator
Kristie Cumbee, ECPI University 
Joe DeGroff, Community Volunteer 
Cathy DeMers, Charleston County School District
Linda Dennis, Backpack Journalist
Vanessa Dos Santos, Venture Aerobearings LLC
Debbie Easterling, Community Volunteer
Jane Farrell, Early Childhood Educator
Dennis A. Feinberg, Community Volunteer
Evelyn Fernandez, Parent 
Michael J. Fewell, The InterTech Group
Roslin J. Fields, Youth Empowerment Services, Inc.
Carol Fishman, Community Volunteer
Karen Fonkert, Charleston Southern University
Dr. Rick Foster, Alliance for a Healthier SC
Ann Freeman, Community Volunteer
Mary French, Trident United Way
Gene Furchgott, Yo Art Inc.
Godfrey A. Gibbison, Ph.D, College of Charleston 
Katie Giebel, Atlas Executive Consulting, U.S. Navy veteran
David Ginn, Charleston Regional Development Alliance
Darrin Goss, Coastal Community Foundation
Rev. Larry Goss, Sr., Ph.D., The Destiny Worship Center
Joan S. Green, Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative
Theresa W. Green, Charleston Area Justice Ministry
Jamee Haley, Lowcountry Local First
Larry Hargett, Dorchester County Council
Will Helmly, Home Telecom
Ashley Heffernan, Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative
Tyler Heffernan, US Club Soccer
Sam Hines, The Citadel
Mary Hodgson, MurphyHodgson
Christina Hoffecker, Big Brothers Big Sisters
Jerlean P. Holmes, The House of Smiles
Tiffany Howard, Help Me Grow South Carolina
Jill Gudger Howell, N2College Nationwide PreK12 Prep
Sgt. Michael J. Howell, Mercedes-Benz Vans LLC, Charleston
Carolyn Hunter, C&A Unlimited
Dr. Jairy C. Hunter Jr., Charleston Southern University
Carol Jackson, Charleston City Council
Jessica Jarrell, City of North Charleston
Starr Jordan, Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry
Barbara Kelley-Duncan, Community Volunteer 
Christopher Kerrigan, Trident United Way
Linda Ketner, KSI Leadership & Management Development
Julie Klaper, Community Volunteer
Paul Kohlheim, Community Volunteer
Katherine Hyslop, The Randolph Company
Richard E. Latham, Trident Technical College
Steve Lattuca, Heritage Trust Federal Credit Union
Jana Larson, Community Volunteer
Larry Lautenschlager, Community Volunteer
Ginny Leavitt, Parent
Ted Legasey, Community Volunteer
Coleman Legerton, Community Volunteer
Tom Leonard, Trident CEO Council
Stacey Livingston, Parent
Cathy Marino, Community Volunteer
Caroline Mauldin, South Carolina Future Minds
Maureen McAnnar, Law Office of Gedney M. Howe, III, P.A.
William and Jaima McInnis, Community Volunteers
Chris McNally, Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative
Barbara L. Melvin
Rev. Cheryl Mills,  El-Shaddai Missionary Baptist Church
Lee H. Moultrie II, USAF (Ret.), Community Volunteer
Nancy Muller, Ph.D., Lowcountry Graduate Center
Ryan Nelson, Nelwater Consulting 
Jim Newsome
Phil Noble, Community Volunteer
Stephen C. Osborne, College of Charleston
Dottie Pagliaro, Community Volunteer
Lynn Pagliaro, Community Volunteer
Jon E. Pedersen, University of South Carolina
Thomas T. Peters, SC Coalition for Mathematics & Science
Kay W. Phillips, Dorchester Children’s Advocacy Center
Sarah Piwinski, Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative
Ericka L. Plater, Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach
Eli Poliakoff, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP
James Ramich, Charleston RISE
Vaudrien Ray, Ruby’s Academy Preschool
John C. Read, Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative
Joseph P. Riley Jr., Former Mayor of Charleston
Wil Riley, Charleston Trident Association of Realtors
Jocelyn Rish, Reading Partners
Neil Robinson, SC Education Oversight Committee
Lt. Gen. John Rosa, USAF (Ret.), The Citadel
Ansel Sanders, Ed.L.D., Public Education Partners 
Hunter Schimpff, South Carolina Public Charter School District
Geoff Schuler, Community Volunteer
Kathy Schwalbe, Thinking Collaborative
Christian Senger,
Scott Sharp, TD Bank
Anne Shaw, Meeting Street Elementary @Brentwood
Rosalind Simmons, Trident Technical College
Steve Slifer, NumberNomics
Elliot Smalley, South Carolina Public Charter School District
Deborah Somerville, Summerville High School
Gray Somerville, LaunchPath Innovation
Rev. Bill Stanfield, Metanoia
Robert N. Stevens, Ph.D., Southeastern School Behavioral Health Conference
Blair Stewart, Community Volunteer
Troy Strother, Father to Father Inc.
Carole C. Swiecicki, Ph.D., Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center 
Ryan Thomas, Ph.D., Charleston Southern University
Rodney Thompson, Ph.D., Educator
Jay Tiedemann, The InterTech Group
Joan Ustin, Joan K. Ustin & Associates, LLC
Chad Vail, Charleston County School District
Laura Varn, Laura Varn & Associates
LaTisha Vaughn-Brandon, Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative
Volvo Car US Operations
Pat Walker, Lowcountry Food Bank
Kaye Wallace, Community Volunteer
Marcy S. Walsh, Community Volunteer
Karen Warren, Community Volunteer
Krissa Watry, Dynepic, Inc.
Margaret Weinberg, Ceramic Artist
Stewart Weinberg, Ph.D., Berkeley Charter Education Association Inc.
Frances C. Welch, Ph.D., College of Charleston
Cady Nell West, Charleston Southern University
Mark Wright, SC Biz News
Bill Yarborough, Import Service Center, Inc.
Jerry Young, Charleston Leadership Foundation
Anita Zucker, The InterTech Group



Please email Ashley Heffernan at to add your name to this letter.