Friday, April 17, 2015

Baptist Hill Principal's On-the Job Behavior Needs Investigation

How could a "Star Principal" in the Charleston County School District be guilty of allowing black students to bully white and Hispanic students and teachers and keep her job?

Kala Goodwine, darling of former Superintendent Nancy McGinley, had bounced around districts from Holly Hill to Summerville, finally landing in McGinley's domain. Under her administration Goodwine was awarded a bonus during difficult financial times in CCSD because McGinley made her principal of Morningside Middle, then nominated as one of the worst schools in the nation. Thanks to Goodwine's willingness to take "combat pay" for a difficult job, McGinley later named her as principal of Baptist Hill/Middle School.

Goodwine has lost the confidence of the school's constituent board, but apparently that's not a negative with the district's Lisa Herring and James Winbush, who also got their jobs from the ex-Superintendent. Constituent boards lost any real power they had under McGinley's watch.

Haven't we been down this road before? Apparently only when pending lawsuits begin to cost the school district big bucks will the Taj Mahal pay attention.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Atlanta's Test Cheating and Charleston County's Principal MiShawna Moore

From an earlier posting:
Who else remembers the glory days when Sanders-Clyde made great strides in its test scores? Why, [former Superintendent] McGinley was so impressed that she made its principal head of two schools [Sanders-Clyde and the now closed Fraser] simultaneously. [McGinley] supposedly had no clue regarding the scandal that finally came out of the closet--organized changing of answers on the tests. And the principal was allowed to escape to a district in North Carolina.
Hello! This is exactly what Atlanta's school leaders were convicted of.

Before the sad results of cheating at Sanders-Clyde came to light (thanks to a state investigation, not our local district's), one local reporter lauded Principal MiShawna Moore as the "Miracle Worker":
 She obsesses about the possibility of Sanders-Clyde's scores dropping while Fraser's improve or of Fraser getting only slightly better while Sanders-Clyde's scores worsen. That thought makes her sit in her office on weekends and cry. Last year, she cried for four days when she realized Sanders-Clyde missed an excellent rating by just 33 students.
 She fears what the media and community will say about the schools, and she sees any blame as resting squarely on her shoulders. She worries about teachers feeling disappointed because they already have suffered so much scrutiny and criticism.
"Cried for four days"? Juxtapose those compliments with the expose that followed. Evidently, what she really worried about was getting caught.

She was caught but maintained her innocence.  The evidence? "The state released Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test results [in 2009] that showed massive drops in test scores at Sanders-Clyde, a high-poverty downtown school previously recognized for its students' impressive achievement. The test score decline coincided with stringent district oversight of the school's testing, a first for the school." Moore claimed that decline occurred because strangers were in the classroom. Yeah, right.

Whatever happened to MiShawna Moore? After about a year in North Carolina she, believe it or not, returned to Atlanta, where she grew up. You can't make this stuff up.

Here's a recent bio:
Dr. MiShawna Moore joined Families First in November 2011, as the Program Coordinator for School Success. Prior to coming to Families First, MiShawna served as an Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, a principal, and teacher, where she earned “Teacher of the Year” and the “Community Motivator Award”. Since returning to Atlanta in 2010, MiShawna has mentored several pre-service teachers, taught parenting classes in the community and volunteered with numerous agencies. MiShawna holds a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Walden University, where she concentrated in Teacher Leadership, and holds three Master level degrees in PK-8 Education, Educational Administration and Supervision and Higher Education and Administration.
She's "mentoring pre-service teachers"? Good grief!

Perhaps you need to look to Geraldine Middleton, a former associate superintendent in CCSD. She's the person who gave Moore a job as an assistant superintendent in Halifax County, NC when Moore was under fire, pointing out that nothing was proven. According to Middleton, "MiShawna D. Moore, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction is working to communicate with the public and staff about student test scores and the meaning of the numbers. Moore is currently designing and implementing new programs to bring up student test scores and to get the staff and community more involved." Well, that statement can be viewed through the prism of her experience at Sanders-Clyde!

Once she had hired Moore in 2008, Middleton became embroiled in a data-driven scandal in North Carolina, After stating repeatedly she would stick with Halifax, she escaped to Chicago in 2009 with a $160,000 job, "one of the highest paid and most powerful" in the Chicago school system. That's Chicago. Need I say more? By 2010 Middleton was under fire there for her "data"  and left. Now she's an educational consultant in North Carolina, using "data" to turn around schools.

At least in Atlanta the students injured by this cheating have gotten some justice. The same cannot be said for those in the Charleston County School District, especially the Sanders-Clyde students and parents who were fooled into believing they were achieving.

It was all on McGinley's watch. Data-driven, indeed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Why No Diversity in Charleston County's All-Black Schools?

Academic Magnet High School is 15 percent nonwhite. Unsurprisingly, that 15 percent met the same standards as white students. We could argue that AMHS shouldn't exist, since it skims the cream off CCSD's other high schools, but the decision to open it (for Gregg Meyers's daughter) was made decades ago, and now CCSD has one of highest-achieving high schools in the state.

That didn't happen by accident. The school takes the highest-achieving applicants from Charleston County--and some from other nearby counties, who take the places of Charleston County students because they scored higher and know how to work the system. The school has a long waiting list, most likely containing some nonwhite students.

Undoubtedly, some students living in the Burke attendance area attend AMHS. Burke High/Middle School, at nearly 99 percent nonwhite, circles the drain even as you read. This year's graduating class is the smallest ever. Its attractive modern buildings are not even half full, even with middle-school students counted. It rates below average today, and the state nearly took it over several years ago. Even so, a large chunk of its students--all nonwhite--do not live in Burke's attendance area. Some have accused CCSD in the past of "dumping" nonwhite students from other high schools into Burke when they have caused trouble elsewhere.

Now CCSD plans to hire an "executive director of diversity and inclusion." Why do I suspect that white applicants need not waste their time applying? More importlantly, why does the district need to pay probably $100 thousand for another edublob layer to shoulder the "right" choices? And what choices will those be--to freeze out top-scoring students from AMHS because they are white? Weasels.

What AMHS parent Charlisa Pugh and The Coalition Pastor Thomas Dixon (both from out-of-state, by the way) call "education assassination" is a two-way street. White students and teachers are routinely bullied in CCSD's de facto segregated schools. Sanders-Clyde on the peninsula greets white visitors with a beautiful Jonathan Green mural showing only nonwhite faces. CCSD routinely excuses rude and demeaning treatment of whites as part of nonwhite culture--how racist can you get?

While CCSD  teaches AMHS students racial stereotypes to avoid, how about  its holding nonwhite students to the same standards of classroom behavior, including language? It might cause some white parents to rethink their choices.

Until the county figures out how to challenge nonwhites even in mostly nonwhite schools, the disparity in AMHS percentages will continue.

Until the county figures out how to treat whites in mostly nonwhite schools, de facto segregation will continue to grow.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bungled CCSD Superintendent Search Puts Enemies on Same Side: Against

What new atrocity could the Charleston County School District perpetrate that would cause Joe Bowers, Dot Scott, and this writer to be unanimous in our rejection? It's known as the "superintendent search" but should be called the "McGinley continuation."

Last week the CCSD Board of Trustees announced the selection of three candidates for the post: Acting Superintendent Michael Bobby, Superintendent of Academics Lisa Herring, and former Horry County superintendent Gerrita Postlewait. What's wrong with that?

Why do I surmise these were the names put forward by former superintendent Nancy McGinley?

First of all, selection of either Bobby or Herring provides a continuation of the McGinley era, one we do not fondly remember. The third selection, Postlewait, most likely the sacrificial lamb, is undoubtedly a McGinley crony well-known by every superintendent in South Carolina.

Far be it from me to insist that we fund a national search: these candidates do have connections to South Carolina. However, is this the best that South Carolina can do for one of the most highly paid superintendent positions in the state?

To be an effective superintendent, the person in charge needs to know what goes on in today's classroom. Despite claims to the contrary, the education of children is not a business proposition. We are not a factory producing widgets, nor are parents "customers." Michael Bobby has no academic qualifications as superintendent. He majored in math and (maybe) got a teaching certificate in Ohio at a college that remains unnamed. Before becoming a financial officer, he taught in high school almost thirty years ago. His academic credentials do not even qualify him for financial chief. As I  said about the departure of former CFO Kennedy in 2007:

  • Does he hold an MBA?
  • Is he an accountant?
  • Does he have any specialized financial training beyond undergraduate courses?

As for superintending education, can he appreciate how different the classroom is from thirty years ago? Does he have any academic background at all in eduction?

Lisa Herring has similar problems, although more relevant teaching experience. She clearly decided she would become a school counselor after teaching a few years. That's her area of expertise. What qualifies her for chief academic officer except she was in the right place at the right time? One would hope that last year's fiasco over her failure to recuse herself when her daughter was insulted by a student at the School of the Arts--and then imposing an unusually harsh punishment--was a learning experience. We don't know.

Finally, Gerrita Postlewait has made a political career of being superintendent. The edublob has fallen all over itself in congratulating one of its own. If she's ever been in the classroom, she's hiding it now. Horry County is upset that she left them with school board governance that many consider anti-democratic, not responsive to either teachers or parents. Wow, sounds like just what CCSD needs!

We all have differing reasons for saying that the triumvirate stinks. Will anyone own up to
creating this list?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Moffly a Dragon? So Says Brian Hicks

"For her final curtain call, she brought down Superintendent Nancy McGinley." Former Charleston County School Board member Elizabeth Moffly tops Brian Hicks's list of politically-incorrect people.

Think of that imaginary (?) list as a guide to those who won't go with the status quo and are not cowed by liberals or Brian Hicks. Why, even though Moffly's left the school board, she's "still trying to influence education." The horror of it all!

No doubt Moffly wished she could get rid of McGinley by herself. Don't we all? A majority of the board's members voted McGinley out--with plenty of good reasons that start with the dismal results of Vision 2016. Hicks instead persists in the myth that McGinley is a saint fired over the Academic Magnet fiasco. It's the standard liberal line.

Moffly's proposal to the county GOP of breaking up the school district has too many pitfalls to be realistic, but she has, as Hicks concedes, "started the conversation" about a deeply flawed organization. On the other hand, Charlie Lybrand's Letter to the Editor in Friday's paper makes salient points. He proposes to give the eight constituent boards the clout they have lost under McGinley: the chair of each constituent district becomes its member on the CCSD Board of Trustees and is elected by his or her district rather than by the county at large. Mt. Pleasant could no longer select who represents North Charleston, as happened during the last election. Lybrand also proposes three at-large members, although he doesn't explain why the necessity.

I would add an additional caveat: that these positions become partisan, with those on the ballot revealing their political affiliations. Liberals (Democrats and Greens) and conservatives (Republicans and Libertarians) do not share the same ideas on what should happen in public schools. Having parties vet the candidates would prevent the election of the more egregious narcissists. Members would be required to represent something other than their own self-aggrandizement or sub rosa sponsorship by mayors or the Chamber of Commerce.

Where do Democrats hang out in a Republican district? on the nonpartisan school board, of course. Why is the race for mayor of Charleston nonpartisan? so that a Democrat can be elected. No Republicans are running. That fact reveals the effect of "nonpartisan" on the mayoral race. Why would the CCSD Board of Trustees be any different?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

McClellanville Wants a New High School

Will the Charleston County School District spend over $7 million to renovate a high/middle school for a student body that has averaged around 120 for the last decade?

Will CCSD instead spend nearly twice that sum for a new building on the St. James-Santee campus?

In the first instance the district would spend nearly $60,000 per student; the cost per student for the second soars over $100,000 per student.

There has to be a better way--and there is!
  McClellanville Constituent Board member Joseph Bowers thinks a new building in a new location is the way to go. Bowers is pitching consolidating the constituent districts for McClellanville and Mount Pleasant to have one district serving all of East Cooper.
  By consolidating the two constituent districts, Bowers said, enrollment could be more evenly distributed at high schools across East Cooper, allowing for more equitable educational opportunities.
  “We have a population problem (in McClellanville),” he said. “There is no way there will ever be the population base out here under the circumstances to continue supporting (equitable) education.”
  But for [Constituent board chair Thomas] Colleton the issue isn’t just about having a new building, it’s about finding a way to break the cycle of poverty of the students in McClellanville, which he feels conditions in the current school only perpetuates.
 “A new school closer to (Awendaw) could open up the door to more opportunities for students,” he said.
Couldn't have said it better myself. A new high school in Awendaw would solve so many problems.

Let's see if CCSD has any common sense.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

CCSD Equates Teachers with Students in Make-up Day

Students lose a day off when they make up bad-weather days in Charleston County--it's the law that they must receive 180 days of instruction. So why not teachers?

The anonymous proposal put forth by the Taj Mahal met with disgust and disdain. Teachers were told that they would lose a day of personal or sick leave or vacation to make up a day when the district told them to stay home. What a great financial ploy to have teachers "foot the bill" for a day off. Made sense to Acting Superintendent Michael Bobby. Where was the proposal to do the same to administrators and Bobby himself?

Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed among CCSD school board members as teachers rebelled against this ridiculous demand, and the trustees voted to "forgive" the day in the interest of "morale."

Ah, yes. Balancing the budget on the backs of teachers. The now-dead proposal in the administration's January bulletin has become an orphan that no person will claim.