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:

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.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Mentor Eli Broad Reveals McGinley's Goals for CCSD

Let's not recruit another graduate of the Broad Institute!

Charleston County's last two superintendents have been graduates of that organization founded by Eli Broad with the purpose of improving urban school districts. However, Broad recently revealed his true feelings about urban schools.

According to Diane Ravitch,
The truth comes out. Broad has low regard for public education. He thinks it works best when technocratic managers make data-driven decisions, close struggling schools, and open privately managed charter schools. He likes mayoral control, not democratic engagement. He funded a campaign to block a tax increase to support public schools in California. He thinks poverty can be overcome by good management .
Gee, that sounds familiar!

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Bobby Needs to Come Clean on CCSD Over-Payments to Axxis

Superintendent McGinley may be gone, but her methods linger on in Acting Superintendent Bobby's high-handed treatment of the Charleston County School Board of Trustees.

First of all, Axxis, the diversity consulting firm that was so helpful in the watermelon incident, was hired without advice or consent of the board, one of several no-bid or single bidder contracts McGinley entered. The maximum ceiling for its consulting was $50,000. Nearly $69,000 later Bobby asked the school board to extend the contract by $48,000 while keeping it in the dark about the overrun.

So, is CCSD paying up to $98,000 or $117,000? Is there any hope that the board will ever rebel at this kind of deception?

Friday, February 06, 2015

Who Are the One Third at CCSD's Mt. Pleasant Academy?

One-third of the students at Mt. Pleasant Academy, roughly 190 students, can relax. They need not worry about being sent back to their zoned schools, ever. This despite the fact that zoning lines for the school will shift next year because of overcrowding.

You could say that Mt. Pleasant Academy is overcrowded because a third of its students are voluntary transfers. Makes you wonder about the necessity for rezoning!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Zucker Skewers ex-Supt. McGinley's "Excellent" Stats

Anita Zucker is no fool, and today's op-ed proves it.

Zucker is fully aware (unlike McGinley hangers-on) that, under the administration of Charleston County's ex-superintendent of schools, the haves prospered and the have-nots suffered. Not content to pat McGinley on the back for her gerrymandered excellent rating, Zucker analyzed the data.

So in CCSD 42 percent of low-income students read below grade level in the eighth grade.

So in CCSD 45 percent of black students read below grade level in the eighth grade.

These are horrendous numbers. Reading on the eighth-grade level is not rocket science.

Exactly what did the NAACP get for its undying support of McGinley? Headlines, perhaps, but no educational improvement for the black community.

Zucker even mentions considering the curriculum used at Buist Academy (International Baccalaureate) and Charleston Development Academy (Core Knowledge) as worthy of consideration for preventing this tragedy in the future.

Meanwhile, McGinley has rolled out her consulting services, no doubt hoping to grab some of those edublob dollars she was so adept at spending previously. Well, every district in the southeast would love to have these numbers, right?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Murray-LaSaine: Cleaning Up McGinley's Mess

You can't fool all of the people all of the time.

That's the lesson ex-Superintendent Nancy McGinley should take from the mess of misunerstanding she and her minions in the Charleston County School District administration created. In order to pacify objections from black families at Murray-LaSaine, she initially gave them the impression that parallel traditional classes would continue after a new Montessori program was established. When it became clear to them CCSD had scheduled these classes to be phased out, they loudly rebelled.

What was she thinking? That these parents didn't really care? that they didn't have enough clout for their objections to make a difference?

While the tempest roared, McGinley backed down and allowed as how parents had indeed been promised continuation of traditional classes by someone or someones unnamed. Then she left under a cloud.

The local rag wants to make this uproar all about race, but is it? Objections to Montessori by those opposed have yet to be articulated in the paper. Why do more black parents want traditional classes?  Do they have some basis for believing their children will achieve more in a traditional classroom?

According to one source,
"the Montessori environment lacks structure and instructions, while some children function better in more structured and more guided environments. Likewise, lack of completion in the classroom may lead to certain problems if a child enters a more competitive environment. Besides, some kids need more discipline than others, so they benefit from extrinsic, rather than intrinsic motivation.  Lastly, the Montessori Method suggests individual work at one’s own pace which leads to restricted social interactions with other kids in class. (http://www.bestkiddy.com/5-parent-montessori-method/)
Are these possible shortcomings the basis for the furor? Or do those whose families have been in the school's attendance area for generations believe they are being shoved around by more affluent newcomers who don't know what their children's best interests are?

Regardless, despite the racial divide at Murray-LaSaine, the new school board reneged on McGinley's promise: traditional classes will disappear.