Friday, May 27, 2016

NAACP Desperate to Stay Relevant in CCSD


No one has any difficulty understanding why the NAACP fights the closing of Lincoln High School or desires more diversity at Charleston County's Academic Magnet High School. Yet for reasons unknown the organization's vitriol against the Charter School for Math and Science knows no bounds.

Since the creation of the Charleston School for Math and Science, Dot Scott and company have railed against its existence. First, it shouldn't be able to use the old Rivers campus. Then, it shouldn't use the Rivers building. As the school prospered and students multiplied, the NAACP hammered home year after year the mantra that the school's nefarious purpose was to reintroduce (!) segregation to the district, even as CSMS became and remains the most diverse school in the entire district.

That's not good enough for the NAACP. The school's success must be destroyed.
From the beginning, CSMS teachers have worked at the will of the administration. No contracts, no hearings, no New-York-style rubber rooms. Any teacher taking a job at CSMS knows the rules.

In its wisdom the NAACP, whose spokesman admits that its meddling has nothing to do with race, proposes changing the school's charter to make the state's Teacher Employment and Dismissal Act apply to its hires. Three teachers who were not rehired didn't like their evaluations.

Sour grapes, pure and simple.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

CCSD Member Walkout Plays to Media

Will black members of the Charleston County School District's Board of Trustees walking out of a meeting have the effect of keeping Lincoln High open? Or bring about Cindy Bohn Coats's resignation as chair of the Board? Don't hold your breath.

Conditions in CCSD result from decades, decades of mismanagement. Further, for the last decade the NAACP has acquiesced to CCSD's plans because administration met its need to be seen as the voice of the people. 

Removing Mt. Pleasant from the equation, not one area of the district admires its schools. How did that happen?

Blaming the present school board members en masse for the mistakes of past school boards is simply wrong. Look at the record of each individual. Think about those members whom the district and the press reviled because they wanted more information. How about the reality that most members have no experience to lead them to question financial realities? 

It's the system, stupid.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

CCSD's Emerson Must Go to Regain Community's Trust

He works for the well-known law firm of Delay, Linger, and Wait. 

Acually, John Emerson is the lawyer for the Charleston County School District, but delay, linger, and wait are his mantras. Why should Superintendent Postlewaite keep the lawyer hired by the former superintendent? He should go post-haste!

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) complaint revealed this week shows everything that is wrong with how CCSD has communicated with the community in the past. Does the new superintendent want the community to believe her administration lacks transparency? If she keeps Emerson, we will. 
Lawyer Jay Bender, a Freedom of Information Act specialist who represents The Post and Courier, called the district’s reasoning [i.e., Emerson's] “absolutely absurd.” He said the district is flouting the state’s open records law by failing to turn over the documents more than three months after the newspaper filed a FOIA request.
“I don’t know what it is that makes cops and school boards think they can game the system and you will go away and that the public will never know anything unpleasant ever happened,” Bender said.
The complaint concerns the removal of an algebra teacher with no explanation. For the rest of the story, see below.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Backward Policies in CCSD on K-8 Schools

How long will it take for the Charleston County School District to learn that middle schools are educational sinkholes? There was a time, maybe 50 years ago, that educational professionals (aka edublob) decided that removing grades 6-8 from elementary schools was a great idea. After all, preteens had problems to solve that younger (or older) students did not. Therefore, shoving all of those growing pains into one building sounded great. Fifty years later the Charleston County School District seems stuck in that failed pattern.

Those of us who have dealt with middle schools know that going old-school K-8 provides better educational outcomes. So it becomes easy to identify with Sanders-Clyde parents who resist sending their middle grades over to Simmons-Pinckney, even though it is a new school.

If learning in a stand-along middle school is so great, why aren't students at Buist also being yanked from their K-8 environment? Just think--Buist would then have space for more sections of lower grades! These moves to consolidate in a middle school are not about helping students; it's all about misplaced priorities that have brought about an $18 million shortfall. One misplaced priority was in creating a new middle school in District 20.

Having seen middle schools literally all over the country, I can state that I have never seen one that was not chock-a-block with problems. It's an easy prediction that, despite the best efforts of teachers and principals, Simmons-Pinckney will be no exception. 

For further reading on this issue, see the following article from the respected ASCD: 

Monday, May 16, 2016

CCSD Should Sell the Taj Mahal (Gulp)?

In the midst of the financial mess left by the Charleston County School District's McGinley administration, local residents are reaching for ways to remedy its $18-million shortfall without raising taxes. 

Good luck with that.

Now, it is true that, as one taxpayer suggested in a recent Letter to the Editor, the Charleston County School District owns land and buildings that are underutilized. 


In fact, not too long ago the district did sell property to fund operating expenses, as pointed out at the time. Yet, selling assets to pay operating expenses means that the district devours itself. Financing with the sale of assets can continue for only so long. We haven't seen the last of shortfalls.

Still, the idea of moving administration out of the Taj Mahal at 75 Calhoon is an enticing one, entertaining, in fact. As Jerry Lahm points out, 
There is no logical reason whatsoever for administrative offices to be on some of the most valuable commercial real estate in the City of Charleston. 
And if it is decided to sell it the district wouldn’t have to pay for a new building, it could just retrofit the old Charlestowne Academy building that has been sitting empty on Rivers Avenue for years. To make it even better, it is central to the entire county with plenty of free parking.
Hear, hear!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Calls for Reform of SC School Funding Unheard for a Decade

We told you so. 

It would be nice to think that makes any difference to the current mess in school district funding or on the Charleston County School District's $18-million shortfall. 

Thanks to the stupidity of voters and politicians over the last decade or so, Charleston County taxpayers will end up with the worst of both worlds: a penny sales tax AND owner-occupied homes subject to school taxes. 

Blame the politicians who in 2006 voted to change the rules on school funding knowing that Charleston County's share would fall. Blame those property owners who sniveled over how much their homes had appreciated in value--causing the burden of school property taxes to increase. Blame those who imagine that sales taxes fall mostly on tourists.

Here's a walk down memory lane for those of you new to the property tax controversy:

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

CCSD Needs Perp Walks to Gain Credibility for Raising Taxes

The party's over in the Charleston County School District. The rest of us are left to pay for it. Thus, Monday the CCSD School Board voted to raise taxes. Thanks to a very short-sighted state law, those in owner-occupied homes won't feel the pinch--just small businesses and renters. Duh.

The Board has hired a law firm to look into possible criminal charges against the perpetrators of the district's $18 million shortfall. While most likely most of that waste was out of stupidity, we can hope that someone pays--if not with money, at least with reputation. 
Board Chairwoman Cindy Bohn Coats told The Post and Courier that the school board has hired Winston-Salem-based law firm Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge, and Rice, LLP to review criminal implications and ethics violations stemming from the recent forensic audit of district payroll and benefits. That audit revealed a “lack of basic budgetary control” that predated the $18 million budget shortfall that the district discovered last fall. 
In an email, Coats noted that seven executive-level employees who held “critical fiscal responsibilities” during the years covered by the forensic audit will no longer be employed by the district after the 2015-16 school year.
Does that sound like retribution to you? Serve out the year getting full salaries? 

Will the district give them good recommendations as well? A golden handshake?