Thursday, December 08, 2016

CCSD Should Resign Itself to Including a Charter School at Burke

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Does anyone else remember the building war over space for the Charter School of Math and Science? It seemed to be never ending. Now that CSMS enjoys its place as the most integrated school in the entire Charleston County School District, voices are quiet over its use of the former Rivers High School building.

How about Allegro? Steve Bailey's op-ed this week lays down the gauntlet to the school district over providing space at Burke for this up-and-coming charter school.  Burke's enrollment at 95 percent black on a peninsula that has been majority white for decades and its largely empty building are emblematic of what's wrong in CCSD. What will it take to break the logjam and create another integrated high school downtown?

Bailey states, 
"Burke and Allegro together may be able to do what Burke could not do alone. “They have an opportunity to make a community that will serve everyone,” says Pete Lawrence, who was captain of Burke’s football team in 1967 under legendary Coach Modie Risher. “It cannot be a school for just one segment of the community."
"The Charleston County School District — and thus Burke — didn’t want to talk about any of this. A host of people didn’t want to see this in print. But tell me this: If we can’t even talk about what divides us, how are we ever going to make it better?
See the rest here:

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

CCSD Must Step Away From the Edublob

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Just in case anyone has forgotten, let me remind you that the Charleston County School District suffered an $18 million shortfall not too long ago. The chances that the district will soon ask for a tax increase are overwhelming.

Wouldn't you be curious to know why the Lastinger Center received a $350,000 contract to retrain CCSD's literacy coaches "as part of the district's planned literacy overhaul"? Since 2002 this start up from the University of Florida has gobbled up millions of dollars from the State of Florida as well as the US Department of Education. Now it believes that the State of South Carolina should follow its lead by implementing Algebra Nation at a cost of $1.5 million. Really? I hope our state legislature has more sense.

Perhaps Superintendent Postlewait does. She suggests a pilot program combining CCSD with Berkeley and Dorchester County School Districts.

While South Carolina's oversimplification of end-of-course tests for Algebra lulled parents into a false sense of security, the low scores on the national college-ready benchmark ACT stripped off the mask. If only one-third of juniors met the mark, how did 89 percent pass the Algebra exam?

Rather than sending millions to Florida, let's look in-state for solutions.

Forget the edublob.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Johns Island Residents Seek to Integrate Public Schools

I know. The newspaper's headline reads "improve area schools," but that's not the true goal. 

Some white residents who have moved to Johns Island are tired of sending their children to school elsewhere. However, Johns Island's CCSD elementary schools need to "improve" in order to integrate. The devil is in the details. Concerned white parents will tell you the schools fall short in many areas. What they don't say is that it will take a major effort among white parents on Johns Island to overcome the reality of de facto black schools. 

Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait encourages the formation of a "diverse community board or panel to help govern the school" instead of the formation of yet another charter school. That's all very well and good, but the devil is in the details as usual. Who will have the authority--the administration, the school board, or the community board?

To "honor the history" of Angel Oak Elementary, a school that has "historically served black students" without removing its black culture will destroy attempts to integrate. White parents are happy to have a diverse school as long as it doesn't come with a black culture. What they desire is the color-blind, middle-class culture found in truly integrated schools. The community board and CCSD must recognize that fact, or the effort will be doomed from the start.

It's taken decades for the Charleston County School District to achieve its de facto segregated schools. 

These parents need all the help they can get.

Friday, December 02, 2016

CCSD Can't Afford Tax Dollar Giveaway

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Does anyone remember an $18-million-dollar shortfall in the Charleston County school budget? Certainly, the reporter failed to remind us in a recent article about the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) now approved by the county for an area of West Ashley. Oh, yes. The CCSD School Board compromised and gave up only 45 percent of revenues from the TIF for the next twenty years or so. 

This maneuver should be called "go along and get along." The developers who carry so much power in Charleston County want to grease the skids. Pressure on the school district brought about this agreement. It stinks. 

If common sense reigned, the district would refrain from draining its revenues. 

Go figure.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

CCSD Teacher Discovers Gullah Dialect!

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Sometimes you wonder what the administration and school board trustees know about the students of Charleston County. I state this because I remember only too well that after an expose in the local rag, the Charleston County School District discovered that reading was important, launching into a plethora of reading catch-up programs as a result.

Now we have, thanks to teachers at Baptist Hill High and board trustee Michael Miller, a sudden focus on the facts of language in the district, namely that rural students, mostly black, don't sound like they're from Ohio. Instead, their speech patterns reveal heavy influence of dialect, namely Gullah. Who knew?

[insert sarcastic comment here]

English teachers constantly deal with all sorts of nonstandard language in the classroom. They always have. Native speakers from Thailand don't know the use of articles (a, the). Students from the Caribbean write in syntax confusing to Americans. Students taught in India reveal long, involved sentences produced previously for British-English teachers. The syntax a baby learns to use remains the default for life. The nonstandard language spoken regularly by parents is a problem only if the teacher makes it one. The way all people speak and the standard English needed for writing are two different languages, if you like.

Your parents and friends (and even the TV announcer) say, "Where are you at?" That's acceptable these days in most contexts, but "Where are you" still remains standard.

"Kids, get off of the sofa!" may be what students hear at home, but "Get off the sofa" remains standard in writing.

I'm using these examples to show that all students need instruction in standard English, not just rural blacks, not just southerners. K J Kearney's comments that "In Charleston if you sound like you're from Charleston, people automatically think you sound stupid" reveal that he hasn't lived outside the South for any length of time. K J--the reality is that outside of the south if you speak with even a southern accent, forget dialect, people assume you are stupid! The only people in the Lowcountry who think blacks (and whites) are stupid because they talk "southern" moved here from New Jersey, Ohio, and [fill in non-southern state here].

Is it possible that schools heavily laden with Gullah-influenced speakers need teachers who grew up in the Lowcountry, South Carolina, and the south? Perhaps culture shock would not then be a problem.

Meanwhile, learning about the fascinating Gullah dialect would be far more useful to teachers than ESOL. These students don't speak a foreign language. They speak a recognized dialect of English!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Who Lectures to CCSD Elementary Students Anyway?

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Every time the Charleston County School District tries a new teaching method, it trots out the same old strawman as an example. For those of you not conversant with logical fallacies, the strawman involves ". . . exaggerating, misrepresenting, or just completely fabricating someone's argument, . . . to present your own position as being reasonable, but this kind of dishonesty serves to undermine honest rational debate," as one website puts it.

Such is the case with the presentation of new methods in springfield-elementary-tries-out-gifted-and-talented-teaching-for-all/.
"When we first started the training, it was an eye-opener," Nell said. "As teachers, we realize that we’re just facilitators of learning, so we’re not just up there giving lectures and giving all the answers to students and telling them that there’s only one way to find the answer to a question."
Wow. The rest of CCSD's elementary schools use the methods of 100 years ago. Who knew?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

All Agreed: SC Needs Appointed Secretary of Education

How much power will the South Carolina State Senate really give up to the governor if he or she has the power (as in 37 other states) to appoint the Secretary of Education? Even our local newspaper editors think appointing, not electing by popular vote, is a move that is long overdue. 

Ask yourself if you hold the state's governor responsible for improving education in South Carolina. Every candidate running for governor promises to improve what is an abysmal record that leaves South Carolina at or near the bottom of most educational statistics. Yet the governor essentially has no power over that cabinet position and often represents the opposing political party. 

The state senate will retain its power over the education budget if voters make the change. Come on, guys. You will still have more power than the governor!

We could have voted for this reasonable change years ago, but the senators have blocked a vote. It's time for a change. 

Time to put some pressure on your state senator. Here they are. Go for it.