Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bungled CCSD Superintendent Search Puts Enemies on Same Side: Against

What new atrocity could the Charleston County School District perpetrate that would cause Joe Bowers, Dot Scott, and this writer to be unanimous in our rejection? It's known as the "superintendent search" but should be called the "McGinley continuation."

Last week the CCSD Board of Trustees announced the selection of three candidates for the post: Acting Superintendent Michael Bobby, Superintendent of Academics Lisa Herring, and former Horry County superintendent Gerrita Postlewait. What's wrong with that?

Why do I surmise these were the names put forward by former superintendent Nancy McGinley?

First of all, selection of either Bobby or Herring provides a continuation of the McGinley era, one we do not fondly remember. The third selection, Postlewait, most likely the sacrificial lamb, is undoubtedly a McGinley crony well-known by every superintendent in South Carolina.

Far be it from me to insist that we fund a national search: these candidates do have connections to South Carolina. However, is this the best that South Carolina can do for one of the most highly paid superintendent positions in the state?

To be an effective superintendent, the person in charge needs to know what goes on in today's classroom. Despite claims to the contrary, the education of children is not a business proposition. We are not a factory producing widgets, nor are parents "customers." Michael Bobby has no academic qualifications as superintendent. He majored in math and (maybe) got a teaching certificate in Ohio at a college that remains unnamed. Before becoming a financial officer, he taught in high school almost thirty years ago. His academic credentials do not even qualify him for financial chief. As I  said about the departure of former CFO Kennedy in 2007:

  • Does he hold an MBA?
  • Is he an accountant?
  • Does he have any specialized financial training beyond undergraduate courses?

As for superintending education, can he appreciate how different the classroom is from thirty years ago? Does he have any academic background at all in eduction?

Lisa Herring has similar problems, although more relevant teaching experience. She clearly decided she would become a school counselor after teaching a few years. That's her area of expertise. What qualifies her for chief academic officer except she was in the right place at the right time? One would hope that last year's fiasco over her failure to recuse herself when her daughter was insulted by a student at the School of the Arts--and then imposing an unusually harsh punishment--was a learning experience. We don't know.

Finally, Gerrita Postlewait has made a political career of being superintendent. The edublob has fallen all over itself in congratulating one of its own. If she's ever been in the classroom, she's hiding it now. Horry County is upset that she left them with school board governance that many consider anti-democratic, not responsive to either teachers or parents. Wow, sounds like just what CCSD needs!

We all have differing reasons for saying that the triumvirate stinks. Will anyone own up to
creating this list?



Friday, March 13, 2015

Moffly a Dragon? So Says Brian Hicks

"For her final curtain call, she brought down Superintendent Nancy McGinley." Former Charleston County School Board member Elizabeth Moffly tops Brian Hicks's list of politically-incorrect people.

Think of that imaginary (?) list as a guide to those who won't go with the status quo and are not cowed by liberals or Brian Hicks. Why, even though Moffly's left the school board, she's "still trying to influence education." The horror of it all!

No doubt Moffly wished she could get rid of McGinley by herself. Don't we all? A majority of the board's members voted McGinley out--with plenty of good reasons that start with the dismal results of Vision 2016. Hicks instead persists in the myth that McGinley is a saint fired over the Academic Magnet fiasco. It's the standard liberal line.

Moffly's proposal to the county GOP of breaking up the school district has too many pitfalls to be realistic, but she has, as Hicks concedes, "started the conversation" about a deeply flawed organization. On the other hand, Charlie Lybrand's Letter to the Editor in Friday's paper makes salient points. He proposes to give the eight constituent boards the clout they have lost under McGinley: the chair of each constituent district becomes its member on the CCSD Board of Trustees and is elected by his or her district rather than by the county at large. Mt. Pleasant could no longer select who represents North Charleston, as happened during the last election. Lybrand also proposes three at-large members, although he doesn't explain why the necessity.

I would add an additional caveat: that these positions become partisan, with those on the ballot revealing their political affiliations. Liberals (Democrats and Greens) and conservatives (Republicans and Libertarians) do not share the same ideas on what should happen in public schools. Having parties vet the candidates would prevent the election of the more egregious narcissists. Members would be required to represent something other than their own self-aggrandizement or sub rosa sponsorship by mayors or the Chamber of Commerce.

Where do Democrats hang out in a Republican district? on the nonpartisan school board, of course. Why is the race for mayor of Charleston nonpartisan? so that a Democrat can be elected. No Republicans are running. That fact reveals the effect of "nonpartisan" on the mayoral race. Why would the CCSD Board of Trustees be any different?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

McClellanville Wants a New High School

Will the Charleston County School District spend over $7 million to renovate a high/middle school for a student body that has averaged around 120 for the last decade?

Will CCSD instead spend nearly twice that sum for a new building on the St. James-Santee campus?

In the first instance the district would spend nearly $60,000 per student; the cost per student for the second soars over $100,000 per student.

There has to be a better way--and there is!
  McClellanville Constituent Board member Joseph Bowers thinks a new building in a new location is the way to go. Bowers is pitching consolidating the constituent districts for McClellanville and Mount Pleasant to have one district serving all of East Cooper.
  By consolidating the two constituent districts, Bowers said, enrollment could be more evenly distributed at high schools across East Cooper, allowing for more equitable educational opportunities.
  “We have a population problem (in McClellanville),” he said. “There is no way there will ever be the population base out here under the circumstances to continue supporting (equitable) education.”
  But for [Constituent board chair Thomas] Colleton the issue isn’t just about having a new building, it’s about finding a way to break the cycle of poverty of the students in McClellanville, which he feels conditions in the current school only perpetuates.
 “A new school closer to (Awendaw) could open up the door to more opportunities for students,” he said.
Couldn't have said it better myself. A new high school in Awendaw would solve so many problems.

Let's see if CCSD has any common sense.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

CCSD Equates Teachers with Students in Make-up Day

Students lose a day off when they make up bad-weather days in Charleston County--it's the law that they must receive 180 days of instruction. So why not teachers?

The anonymous proposal put forth by the Taj Mahal met with disgust and disdain. Teachers were told that they would lose a day of personal or sick leave or vacation to make up a day when the district told them to stay home. What a great financial ploy to have teachers "foot the bill" for a day off. Made sense to Acting Superintendent Michael Bobby. Where was the proposal to do the same to administrators and Bobby himself?

Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed among CCSD school board members as teachers rebelled against this ridiculous demand, and the trustees voted to "forgive" the day in the interest of "morale."

Ah, yes. Balancing the budget on the backs of teachers. The now-dead proposal in the administration's January bulletin has become an orphan that no person will claim.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Deconsolidate CCSD? Depends on Who Gets the Goodies

Rumbling near the surface of discontent, especially in Mt. Pleasant, is the idea that the district is too large, too long, and too distant from its five original constituent areas. Given the way that those areas have developed in the last 40 years, deconsolidating brings up some disquieting questions.

  1. Does North Charleston get the magnet schools now located there? the Academic Magnet? School of the Arts? Military Magnet?
  2. Does the peninsula (District 20) get to keep Buist for its own students?
  3. What happens to the charter schools?
  4. With no industry to speak of and fewer large retail establishments, does Mt. Pleasant get the short end of the stick on sales taxes needed for operating expenses?
  5. Ditto North Charleston. Does it get to keep all its tax revenues for its schools--even raising teacher salaries to be the highest in the area.
How about diverse schools? Will the Office of Civil Rights condone the breakup of a district formed to encourage integration? Will an oversight entity distribute the taxes according to the needs of the new districts and cpunty-wide magnets? Doesn't that sound like what we have now?

Talk about a can of worms!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Timely James B. Edwards Civics Bills in Legislature

Should South Carolina's high school graduates demonstrate the same knowledge of our government as immigrants being granted citizenship? Who could disagree?

Try stopping a teenager on the street and asking those basic questions. You'll get your answer.Try it for yourself here:
 http://www.al.com/news/mobile/index.ssf/2014/07/are_you_smart_enough_to_pass_a.html

Bills are now in committee in both the House and Senate of South Carolina. The civics test would not prevent graduation if failed; it would, however, reveal which classes are teaching students to understand our government. Email your representatives now.

South Carolina Senate Delegation
Sean Bennett, District 38
Paul G. Campbell, Jr., District 44
George E. "Chip" Campsen III, District 43
Raymond E. Cleary III, District 34
Lawrence K. "Larry" Grooms, District 37
Marlon E. Kimpson, District 42
Clementa C. Pinckney, District 45
Paul Thurmond, District 41

South Carolina House Delegation
Robert L. Brown, District 116
William E. "Bill" Crosby, District 117
Wendell G. Gilliard, District 111
Stephen Goldfinch, Jr., District 108
Jenny A. Horne, District 94
Harry B. "Chip" Limehouse III, District 110
David J. Mack III, District 109
Peter M. McCoy, Jr., District 115
James H. Merrill, District 99
Samuel Rivers, Jr., District 15
F. Michael "Mike" Sottile, District 112
Leonidas E. "Leon" Stavrinakis, District 119
Mary E. Tinkler, District 114
J. Seth Whipper, District 113



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Gasp! Reporters Discover CCSD's Segregated Schools!


If you really want a quick run-down of de facto segregation in the Charleston County School District, I recommend the left-hand subject column of this blog. What you will discover is that, silly me, for my first five years back in Charleston after more than 40 living in various parts of the country, I actually thought CCSD's schools were integrated! It's a subject that our local paper has chosen not to explore--until now.

The Jonathan Green mural at Sanders-Clyde and the school's curriculum specializing in the history of slavery are a case in point. The mural greets children as they enter--but only black children, since no white faces appear. This message seems appropriate for a segregated school. Well, Sanders-Clyde does have one white student; evidently, CCSD administration never planned for any more. Meanwhile, fully 40 percent of its 720 students have transferred in from other schools. You can't insinuate, as Parker and Hawes do, that only white and not black parents request voluntary transfers based on race. They aren't making these choices based on the school's performance.

Learning of these statistics, what conclusion can you reach except that many black parents want a segregated school? If you know of some other reason, please comment. "Convenience" is the buzz-word for voluntary transfers, and CCSD does not provide transportation.

Let's not forget that federal government policies after World War II started the move from the peninsula to the suburbs as it granted returning veterans VA loans only on new construction. Talk about unintended consequences! But it's ridiculous to suggest that white movement off the peninsula in the seventies and eighties caused downtown schools to re-segregate: the population on the peninsula has remained (and increased) as majority white since the sixties.

It is remarkable to think that the only high school in this majority-white downtown has merely one white student; it's even more remarkable to realize that nearly 30 percent of Burke's students have transferred from other zones. Again, what gives? It's not the lure of its football team!

Parker and Hawes also try to make the case that Berkeley and Dorchester counties lack these fully segregated schools. They cite that Dorchester District 2 "doesn't have a single school lacking in diversity." Of course not: it has Dorchester District 4 to take that position!

Berkeley County is a different story. Traditionally a rural and black population, only in the past 30 years has it developed as a suburb--and new construction disperses whites from Ohio into the diverse mix. The Charleston peninsula has an entirely different, and much older, history.