The Greenville News on virtual schools, Oct. 29:

Web-based public schooling has taken off in South Carolina. Three online charter schools — called "virtual schools" — not only filled up for their first year of classes this fall but even garnered waiting lists. Such is their popularity that more student openings are expected next year if not sooner.

Virtual education — a public education program allowing students to take classes at home — could be another meaningful alternative to traditional public schools, offering greater educational opportunity for South Carolina's young people. But, of course, these schools must be closely monitored and held accountable for academic results and taxpayer dollars. ...

Virtual schools appeal to many typical students but also those facing a variety of individual needs or personal challenges. ...

Virtual charter schools also are far less expensive to run than traditional public schools. ...

Charter schools aim at increasing educational choices — particularly by appealing to a student's specific learning needs. Critics may argue that the freedom of virtual charter schools — for instance, allowing students to work from home at their own pace — can be both a strength and liability. Certainly, adequate state oversight is needed to make sure these schools are effective. At this point, however, these innovative schools should be seen as a very positive development.

(Spartanburg) Herald Journal on state spending, Oct. 28:

State Sen. Harvey Peeler is correct when he points out that the state needs a shock absorber to even out the jolts from poor spending decisions.

The senator's metaphor describes the situation well. A shock absorber takes up some of the impact of holes in the road, evening out the ride of a car by limiting the up and down movement of the suspension.

South Carolina has been made car sick by the ups and downs of state spending and budget cuts. The cycle of legislative spending is clear. When the economy is growing, the General Assembly spends all the money it can, every dime that is forecast to come into the state's coffers. Lawmakers give no thought to the inevitable economic downturn. ...

Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell proposes an alternate cap based on a 10-year average of state revenue increases. This would keep spending from outstripping the state's income.

McConnell and other legislative leaders are recognizing the need to stop what he calls "the feast or famine budgeting cycle." Lawmakers have proven that they cannot restrain themselves. They need an imposed limit on their spending. And citizens who fund and depend on state services need an end to this unstable cycle. Lawmakers should adopt one of these state spending caps.

The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News on bike rally litigation, Oct. 28:

Residents seeking relief from the May and October motorcycle events will be hoping for a favorable ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Terry Wooten.

The first hearing is scheduled in the federal court in Florence in one of the lawsuits businesses filed over the city of Myrtle Beach's new ordinances designed to curtail the motorcycle rallies. ...

Granted that the rallies put considerable strain on residents' patience and on our communities' resources, it is unrealistic to think they can be made to go away.

In addition to the lawsuit being heard in U.S. District Court, other lawsuits are pending, both in the federal court in Florence and in the Horry County 15th Circuit Court of South Carolina. ...

Supporters of the city's efforts to curtail the motorcycle rallies will hope the judge ultimately declines to issue the injunction sought by the plaintiffs. That would be no small victory for the city and the many residents longing for a more normal month of May.

The (Hilton Head) Island Packet on DNA law, Oct. 28:

The legislature didn't stick to budget cutting. It also took time during the special session to override Gov. Mark Sanford's veto of a bill that allows law enforcement to collect DNA samples from felony suspects.

The samples would be taken when people are arrested for felonies, as well as for eavesdropping or peeping, which are misdemeanors on first offense. No conviction is necessary.

But Sanford isn't giving up. He's called a news conference today to discuss continuing the fight against this measure. He will be joined by Lonnie Randolph, president of the S.C. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. ...

The only bright spot in this measure is that it also includes a way for prisoners convicted of certain crimes to use DNA to challenge their convictions, with some strong safeguards against their abusing that privilege.

Prisoners would first have to convince a judge DNA testing likely would prove them innocent. If the test instead confirmed a prisoner's guilt, he would be subject to contempt of court, revocation of good-time credits and denial of parole requests. It also requires any new DNA samples be run through state and federal databases to see whether the prisoner could be tied to unsolved crimes.

Still, the bad provisions outweigh the good. This measure should be killed, and the section that allows people in prison to seek to gain their freedom through DNA testing should be reintroduced as stand-alone legislation.