Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What Does NAACP Want Charleston County School Board to Do?

Not surprisingly, the first Charleston County School Board meeting with Gerrita Postlewait as superintendent turned contentious. The NAACP's Dot Scott, given more power by the result of the Confederate flag controversy, plans to disrupt the board until something is done. As she said, "We will not move on."

So what will satisfy Scott and others who believe the process tainted? 

Agreed that "the hiring of the new superintendent was not done in a proper manner," who has the solution? If the Board backs down and begins the process anew, the cost of buying out Postlewait's contract would surely affect "the educational well-being of minority children [and all other children]" in CCSD's schools. 

Even if the above happened, Scott and her cohort would not be happy unless the new superintendent were black. Surely that's racist.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

P & C on Postlewait Sheds Light on Cronyism in Hiring New Superintendent

Columbia attorney Ken Childs had the largest role in the hiring of his friend Gerrita Postlewait for the new superintendent of Charleston County schools. He realized his opportunity as he negotiated McGinley's buy-out.

Childs has had Postlewait in mind for the position for more than a decade, if we are to believe reports in the paper. He orchestrated meetings of various CCSD board members with her (and no other) prior to the Board's discussion of requirements for a new superintendent, carefully keeping the numbers down each time so that the Open Meetings law would not apply. Well, he is an attorney.

He also omitted Board members Miller and Collins from these meetings because those two, who did not belong to the go-along-and-get-along crowd, had already put forward Lisa Herring's name. Considering that McGinley had not previously been a superintendent and was promoted to the position without a search, the Collins-Miller proposal was not so far-fetched.

When this omission saw the light of day, Childs called it "regrettable," as in regrettable that the public found out. Unfortunately for him, both omitted members were black. Clearly, his objective was to maneuver Postlewait into the position while keeping boosters of Lisa Herring (also black) in the dark. Who added Bobby's name remains a mystery, but most likely he allowed his name put forward so that the Board would not appear split between Herring and Postlewait. If Coats's recent statements about needing someone with prior superintendent experience are to be believed, only one of those three--the one hand-picked by Childs--qualified.

After the omission of Collins and Miller became known and Bobby withdrew, Childs again manuevered the whole process. He convinced Coats that the School Boards Association, filled with his and ex-President Postlewait's friends, restart the process. After a whirlwind day or two, what happened next was predictable: Collins and Miller held out for Herring and other Board members held out for Postlewait (they had been well primed), To cover the impasse,a sacrificial goat was included in the final three names.

Childs succeeded in his original goal. Board Chair Cindy Bohn Coats still doesn't understand why so much fuss has been made about the process.

If the Board had conducted a proper search without Childs's manipulation, Postlewait might very well have been selected anyway. That the Board was so easily manipulated is problematic--and its members really do owe an apology to Lisa Herring.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Seriously? Seriously, Berkeley County--McGinley?

Not sure whether to laugh or cry.

Maybe ex-Superintendent Nancy McGinley is just what the doctor ordered for the Berkeley County School District. She could antagonize every segment of the population while closing any remaining neighborhood schools to improve BCSD statistics, or she could ram through a capital building program to employ her contractor pals from Charleston County. Your schools are 20 years old? How outrageously archaic!

The question is, do residents of Berkeley County know anything of McGinley besides the whitewashed and flattering accounts perpetrated by the P& C? Watermelon controversy? How about failing programs? What ever happened to Vision 2016?

What is definite is that if Berkeley County hires McGinley as its next superintendent of schools, it should change its name to Beserk County.


Monday, July 13, 2015

CCSD Flash: Cindy Bohn Coats's Days as Chair Are Numbered

Ask yourself the question: could the Charleston County School Board's process and publicity in selecting a new superintendent have been any worse? It's hard to think how.

Coats in her heavy-handed way has managed to alienate almost every person who cares about what happens in the school district. In addition, as I've written previously, her treatment of Lisa Herring defies belief. Herring was first named as one of two in-house employees being considered for the position.

When the Board announced the selection of Postlewait, Coats pointed out that Herring had never been a superintendent and was thus passed over for the job. Coats can't have it both ways:either Herring is qualifed or she is not.

Now the original naming of Herring looks like window-dressing to suggest that not all candidates being considered were white. Who can blame the NAACP's Dot Scott for calling for Coats's head?

Not me.

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150713/PC1002/150719814/1021/ccsd-board-failed-the-selection-test


Wednesday, July 08, 2015

CCSD Board Offends Entire Community at One Blow with Postlewait

If it wasn't a conspiracy, it was the most stupid, ill-conceived process of selecting a new Charleston County School District superintendent that anyone can remember. By its actions the present CCSD School Board managed to offend every segment of the community while claiming its process was correct and transparent.

Jeez! Conspiracy theorists can have a field day with this one.

Fact: Gerrita Postlewait quit her job to apply for the CCSD position. Either she's independently wealthy, or she'd been told the fix was in.

Fact: Postlewait was invited to schmooze with selected school board members before any other candidates. Who decided that? And would we even know about it if black members hadn't blown the whistle?

Fact: When the three original candidates were announced--Bobby, Herring, and Postlewait--only she had experience as a superintendent. According to Board Chair Cindy Bohn Coats, only those with previous superintendent experience should have been considered. How then did the Board arrive at a group of three with only one (Postlewait) meeting that criterion?

Fact: Once Bobby had dropped out (probably because his background has never been scrutinized thoroughly) and the Board was forced to spread a wider net for candidates, two of the three resulting candidates were the same. If the board told the searchers that superintendent experience was necessary, why was Herring in the final three at all?

Fact: Herring has been treated poorly by the process. Despite being put forth twice, she's then told she is unqualified because she hasn't even been a principal, much less a superintendent. If I were her, I'd be looking to leave the district ASAP.

Despite the furor, the situation is a win for Postlewait. Embattled as she accepts the position, nevertheless, while in it she receives a salary well over $200,000 per year, and when she's forced out, which she will be, she'll receive a large severance package.

Your tax dollars at work.


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

No More Mysterious Executive Sessions in CCSD?

As a recent lead editorial noted,  "For years, numerous public bodies have been excluding people from meetings without clear and lawful reasons to do so. They use executive sessions to discuss things absent outside scrutiny."

Better pay attention, Charleston County School District. Looks like the SC Supreme Court has your number! 

The editorial continues, "A recent S.C. Supreme Court decision should change that. It says public bodies must give the public a clear idea about why it wants to go into executive session. And that reason must be among those set out in the state’s Freedom of Information Act."
This is how it’s been working: A school board, city council or other public body votes to excuse the public so members can discuss “contractual matters” or “personnel matters.”
That’s like telling someone to pack his bags because you’re taking him “somewhere.” He needs to know whether to take black tie or a bathing suit, but you’re not telling. . . . 
But the extra information the Supreme Court said bodies must provide could be helpful to the public’s understanding of the public’s business. People might have helpful information to share with their elected representatives. And people might just pick up on an impropriety.
No, really?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

P & C's Cream-Puff "Interviews" of CCSD Superintendent Finalists

T'he P & C can really pick 'em. Our latest education reporter has absolutely no background in education unless you count graduating from Ohio State University, but she does have great lib-cred with a background at Mother Jones, etc. 

You would expect such a liberal reporter to balk at canned interview questions with the three superintendent finalists for the Charleston County School District, but maybe she doesn't know enough to think of her own. Two of these so-called "interviews" have appeared this week, and the third is to follow. The candidates sound as though they're filling out a questionnaire.

It's not what Deanna Pan asks; it's what she doesn't ask. The school board seems to have written the questions, which are the same for all candidates. Bland, bland, bland.

The intent of the questions seems to be to elicit uniform comments--what has prepared you to head this school district; how would you make relations with the school board harmonious; how would you improve diversity; do you like school choice; how important is standardized testing (my paraphrasing here). Nothing provocative, all eliciting similar prepared answers. 

How about these questions:
  • In what ways could the district cut its administrative costs?
  • Should non-academic factors be used for selection to the Academic Magnet and its ilk?
  • How would your administration differ from that of the previous superintendent?
  • Do you believe a national curriculum such as Common Core will benefit the district?
  • Will you order a forensic audit of the district and throw open its books?
Claiming ignorance of the district is not a viable option. Why would any candidate not do her homework and sound that ignorant?

Then, there are some special questions for Herring: how does a year or two teaching in a private school classroom years ago prepare you to understand problems facing CCSD's teachers today? What did you learn from your handling of the punishment given to the student who disrespected your daughter and its consequent furor?

While it's pointless to review how these three were selected, you still must wonder why the district didn't skip all the fuss by promoting Herring in the first place. After all, that's what it did for Nancy McGinley. Now if Herring is selected, people will assume it was a foregone conclusion, and if she's not, the NAACP will be in full cry.