Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hicks on McGinley: Laugh of the Day

The paper has gone whole hog to protect Superintendent McGinley's position in the Charleston County School District. Mayor Riley is beating down the doors of individual school board members in an attempt to save his protege. The editorial page laments the potential loss of a great superintendent, and the news articles point out how costly her buyout would be.

Nevertheless, Brian Hicks takes the prize for the most outrageous sentence in his impassioned defensive column.

To wit, "McGinley has never been a politician."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

CCSD's McGinley a Goner?

Please, oh please.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Clothespin Your Nose and Vote for Spearman for SC Education Superintendent

Molly Spearman, a former music teacher, is also, fittingly, former director of the SC School Administrators Association. She thinks like them.

Tom Thompson is former dean of graduate studies at SC State University, a place not known for graduate study, and he is now involved with for-profit institutions. He sees federal intervention in education as a positive force.

Both candidates are mouthing platitudes in debate. Neither has any new solutions other than to have high standards and fix funding inequities.Of course, you could throw your vote away on the American party candidate, Ed Murray, but why would he be an improvement over Jim Rex, one of his supporters?

This year's race proves once again that the state's superintendent of education should be appointed by the governor.

No wonder only 13 states have elected superintendents when you contemplate the candidates our primary elections have tossed up for us.

Spearman appears to be marginally less entranced with federal intervention. Of course, she could merely be mouthing what Republican voters want to hear.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

CCSD's McGinley Teaches Watermelon Stereotype to AMHS Teens

Most of them were born between 1996 and 1998, long after the association of watermelons with African-Americans was banned from public discourse, so it should come as no surprise that the Academic Magnet football team, including its black player, would not have associated smashing a watermelon while making the usual football grunts and raves with being racist.

Trouble is, the Charleston County School District's superintendent was determined to teach them a lesson anyway.

And she did.

So now what the boys saw as a harmless marker of their victories has become a racist incident causing the loss of their football coach. The coach was held responsible even though not present.

Political correctness run amuck.

The super had better watch out. She can mess around with academics all she wants, but when she starts messing with football that spells trouble.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Reading at Fourth-Grade Level? CCSD Welcomes You to High School

If you set the goal low enough, almost everyone can achieve it.

However, the Charleston County School District struggles to meet its own criterion that all incoming ninth graders will read at the fourth grade level. Despite focusing on literacy for the past few years, nearly 13 percent of the district's students read at or below the fourth-grade level. That would be bad enough if those students were spread evenly among CCSD's high schools. An additional problem is that they are clustered, often up to 40 percent of an entering class, in CCSD's lowest-performing schools. a

Below is an example of a fourth-grade reading worksheet. Remember that this is the goal for these students.

We don't know what percentage reads below the fourth-grade level. Here is third-grade level. Can you imagine this student reading a high school textbook?

It's way past time to get serious about reading. If students reading on this low a level pass their freshman classes, what does that suggest about the difficulty of what they are learning? What percentage of these students will actually graduate?

Time to fish or cut bait. Either put all students reading at fourth-grade level or below in the same classes in the same school and keep them there until each reads at least on the sixth-grade level or distribute them evenly over the district's high schools so that students reading at grade level or above need not face a class with a majority of poor readers.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Who's in Charge: CCSD Superintendent or School Board?

Amazingly, the Charleston County School Board has done something not first pushed by Superintendent McGinley: moved Lowcountry Tech from the Rivers building and voted to allow the Charleston School for Math and Science the use of the building instead of multiple trailers. It's a nightmare!

Well, it's a nightmare for McGinley. What this sensible vote suggests is that her long domination of the Board that is legally her boss may be ending. When did the Board last go against her wishes? Not in my memory.

McGinley is beholden to special interest groups who have no real interest in the education of Charleston County's students. They have a political agenda instead. That political agenda does not allow for a fully-integrated school on the peninsula that they do not control through the superintendent.

It would be nice to say that this disagreement with the elected school board is the handwriting on the wall, but don't hold your breath waiting for McGinley to resign, even if she's reduced to stating idiotically that Burke doesn't have room for the tech programs.

So now CSMS must wait for passage of the not-a-penny sales tax extension?


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

CCSD Disconcerted by Its Own Policies Regarding School Transfers

I'm not sure anyone has counted how many programs Charleston County School Superintendent Nancy McGinley has instituted to entice students to attend school outside their attendance zones, but those programs are legion.

So it's all the more puzzling why CCSD administration last month claimed to be "disconcerted" over this trend. Maybe it thinks the "wrong" students are heeding the siren call of magnet and partial-magnet schools or petitioning for curriculum offered only at the other end of the county?

Actually, one reason for concern is that, while North Charleston's elementary and middle schools are full, numbers are exiting North Charleston for high school, perhaps to avoid ninth-grade classes where up to 40 percent are reading at the fourth-grade level or below. Another concern is falling enrollment at de-facto all-black Burke, the only high school on a majority-white peninsula. Could Burke's celebration of its all-black hsitory have anything to do with white flight?

Seriously, does anyone wonder why students who can choose to go elsewhere do so, even opting sometimes for "gasp" private schools?

Board Vice-Chairman Ducker worries that too much parental choice will send some schools "into a death spiral." Some parents, on the other hand, think a death spiral might be the solution for the ones with dismal records.

CCSD has decided to throw another edublob consultant at their perceived problem: for $16,500 he or she will "study school choice trends using a two-pronged approach--an online survey and focus groups." With all the fine administrators already on board at 75 Calhoun, you'd think this could be an in-house job. Apparently not.

Let's at least hope that McGinley resists tinkering with the focus groups.