Friday, October 20, 2017

Frierson Elementary Montessori Will Integrate Classes

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When an overwhelmingly black elementary school, such as Edith Frierson Elementary on Wadmalaw Island (92 percent) changes into a Montessori school, "racist" white parents will sent their children there. That's the background for a grass-roots effort to offer Montessori at that public school.


This phenomenon has already occurred at James Simons Elementary downtown. 

The answer is obviously politically incorrect. Middle-class parents of every ethnic background want their children challenged to achieve and fear the drag of a classroom composed of those from poor and high-risk backgrounds. Montessori answers that fear.

"At a Charleston County School Board committee meeting [earlier this month] members of the Frierson Elementary School Improvement Council, District 9 Constituent School Board and Johns Island Community Association, [. . .] endorsed the Montessori plan."

"Proponents of the idea say it could improve results for students, attract white families to local public schools from Wadmalaw and neighboring Johns Island, and boost enrollment at a school that has faced threats of closure in recent years due to low student headcounts."

Start up costs can be a problem, but in a district that can afford to squander millions on "improved" smartboards, we're talking about peanuts.

As one private Montessori school puts it, "Montessori programs are normally more expensive to organize and run than conventional classrooms due to the extensive teacher education needed to become certified and the very high cost of purchasing the educational materials and beautiful furniture needed to equip each Montessori classroom."

It's not like CCSD doesn't have the money! 

Has anyone asked, "Would you prefer new smartboards or getting a Montessori classroom?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Berkeley County Values Special Needs Students with Project Search

Special needs students who reach 18 in the Berkeley County School District have something to celebrate. Those who don't attend college or trade school can now participate in a well-tested program begun at Cincinnati Children's Hospital more than twenty years ago. It will allow individuals into "a school-to-work program that takes place at the workplace, where the students get classroom instruction and hands-on training." In this case, the Berkeley Council has stepped up to the plate and will begin the program at its county administration building.

"The immersion program targets students who are at least 18 and in their last year of school. Berkeley will start with about eight students who will be chosen through an application and screening process."

“'These are the kids that truly are sitting in some of our self-contained classrooms that are not earning a diploma but they have potential and they have skills,' said Kelly Wulf, district director of special services. 'Their strength may not be reading, but their strength can be fixing a car or doing something else.'”

"The students will start their day in a conference room at the county administration building that will double as a classroom and then spend the bulk of their day at work in any of the county’s departments. They will have three unpaid internships during the year that could be doing office work or manual labor."

“'What we know about our kids is that it might take them a little bit longer to learn a skill, but once they learn it, they know it and they can do it with true precision,' Wulf said."

“'To me this is just such a valuable experience for our kids that we should have one in every industry in the county,' Wulf said. 'It shows that the county is invested in our kids, and if the county can do it, hopefully other businesses will see that they can do it, too.'” 

More power to them! Let's hope other employers are paying attention. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

CCSD's Dumb and Dumber Moves with Smartboards

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Wow! Imagine having next-generation technology! We could change it every year! After all, we're not paying; it's other people's money!

Do you ever wonder how often these thoughts wander through the empty heads in the halls of the Taj Mahal? Every time a salesman from the edublob calls, I suspect.

The question is, has any research shown that using any kind of interactive smartboard actually increases learning? Bet not! It does increase work for teachers, however. 

"In addition to some new cutting-edge features and a sharper display, the Promethean panels will not require information technology workers to replace expensive projector bulbs, which have a tendency to burn out every few years."

Let's see: replacing "expensive projector bulbs" "every few years" compared to spending millions to replace the entire system. Hmm

Did anyone mention when installing the present $30 million smartboards that they would last only five to seven years? And now we hope for 10 years out of the replacements?

"The new technology has its skeptics, including school board member Michael Miller, who joined the unanimous vote for the upgrade in April. He said he has yet to see data that show previous technology upgrades, like the one that brought Chromebooks and iPads to every school in 2014, have improved student learning."

No kidding, but he voted for the expenditure anyway. 

Unanimous. Remember that when the next school board election comes around.

When voters approved the half-cent sales tax, did they really think the money would be squandered? It turns out that what voters want to spend money on, like increasing teachers' salaries, can't be funded with the tax. It's called "bait and switch" or the "fog of elections" or something like that.

The district was too embarrassed to provide the full cost of the replacement for what originally cost $30 million, stating it would be "at least" $14 million. For $4000 per classroom surely more effective ideas than replacing what already works can be found.

"Moultrie Middle English teacher and Charleston Teacher Alliance Director [and my hero] Jody Stallings remains skeptical, as well. He said most teachers use their SMART Boards as basic whiteboards or to show videos and Powerpoints — feats that could be accomplished much more cheaply. He doubts an expensive upgrade will change teachers' plans."

"'I'm sure there are a number of teachers who use them in more complex ways,' Stallings said in an email, 'but the reality is many (if not most) teachers either don't find the high-tech aspects useful for their curriculum and/or they do not have adequate time to prepare the complex, interactive lessons that the boards are capable of providing.'" 

Which begs the question: did anyone consult the teachers? 

Of course not.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Common Sense in CCSD Menu Revamp

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Why would anyone want to eat lukewarm cooked spinach, green beans, or carrots? When adults remember their most disliked school cafeteria meals, those sides rank right after mystery meat. In fact, does any adult have fond memories of public school lunches? If so, we'd like to hear about them. 

So it is a relief to hear that "Over the summer, Nutrition Services Officer Jeremy Tunstill helped set up test kitchens at North Charleston Creative Arts Elementary and Charleston County School of the Arts. During summer camps at the two schools, cafeteria staff brought small groups of students into the kitchen to rate a bevy of choices from US Foods and Limehouse Produce, which supplies fresh fruits and vegetables."

"'We reduced the hot vegetables,' Tunstill said. 'We found that they get thrown in the trash.'"

No kidding.

The Charleston County School District budgets nearly $30 million a year on food. That must make it one of the largest meal providers in the state. Of course, most of that comes from the feds, with a small portion paid by those few remaining students who actually pay their own way.

My youngest would have gone with the peanut butter and jelly sandwich everyday regardless.😄

Monday, October 16, 2017

Historically Black Neighborhood Gets Boeing's Support for Schools

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Nelson Rivers hopes to keep Liberty Hill a black community; Boeing's inadvertently trying to help.

"Liberty Hill was bought in 1864 by a free black man and his wife, who sold it to four families whose descendants still live there. But the neighborhood is now surrounded in the East Montague area by new development, much of which is unaffordable to those longtime residents, Rivers said."

If left to market forces, Liberty Hill might become unaffordable to its present residents; it might even become integrated, or the latest buzzword, "diverse." Rivers is struck with horror at the thought of gentrification. 

With the assistance of Rivers's Charity Foundation, the Charleston County School District, and Boeing, "special programs in science, technology, engineering and math at three schools serving the city's Liberty Hill community: North Charleston Elementary, Morningside Middle and North Charleston High" are planned.

"The education initiative is just one of four parts in a larger community revitalization effort called Transformation: Liberty Hill. Boeing, the Charleston County School District, the Coastal Community Foundation and the Charity Foundation are partnering with a mission 'to transform Liberty Hill into a community of multi-generational and economically stable individuals and families,' according to a press release."

"Under the agreement, Boeing will contribute $150,000 to the STEM project this school year, with the option to extend the program based on results. The school district will contribute $350,000, which a district spokesman said was approved in its 2017-18 budget."

"The money will support the use of STEM curricula from Project Lead the Way, a nonprofit that provides programs for schools across the country." 

The edublob gets its hands in the till as usual.

"North Charleston High already has a Project Lead the Way program. Boeing’s donation will support that as well as new Project Lead the Way initiatives that began this school year at North Charleston Elementary and Morningside Middle.Middle schoolers will use a curriculum called PLTW Gateway to Technology."

"With the agreement signed and workforce development in place, organizers will focus on the next component, affordable housing, Rivers said. The community has more than 240 vacant tracts, he said. About 160 homes are owner-occupied, and another 100 are lived in by non-owners."

"'Frankly, that sets Liberty Hill up to be gentrified, and that's what we are concerned about,' Rivers said."

"North Charleston and North Charleston Housing Authority currently have few affordable housing programs, but Rivers said they have shown interest in his group's plans."

Few programs because North Charleston already has plenty of affordable housing? More than any other area close to downtown?

"The plan calls for buying lots to build or renovate with a "Liberty Hill home," a 1,200-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home with a garage, he said." 

Who's paying?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Clear Bag Policy Headed for CCSD Schools?

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Once upon a time the only bags in classrooms were pocketbooks and pencil cases. Today's classroom has such large book bags that walking the aisles can be a hazard. Can anyone else remember carrying books openly or balancing them on a hip? Everyone could see what you carried on your person. Not so now.

The necessity for clear bags in the classroom has crept up on us gradually. The recent decision by Goose Creek High School to require clear bags at football games is the beginning of the end of hiding stuff in book bags. That stuff can be as innocuous as toy cars and dolls and as dangerous as guns and ammunition and drugs. 

It's a "safety measure" whose time has come. Best to phase it in when students change schools--from elementary to middle, from middle to high school. 

No kidding. Such a policy could avoid future tragedies.

“'As Goose Creek High School is currently our largest high school, it was the best location to pilot this new safety measure,' said Tim Knight, Berkeley County School District’s security coordinator."

"The procedure allows staff and on site law enforcement to easily identify prohibited items, reducing delays that result from bag searches, Knight said. 'We want our fans and guests to enter and enjoy our facilities with the peace of mind that we are taking proactive steps necessary to ensure their safety.'”

"Prohibited items include weapons, drugs, alcohol, tobacco and electronic cigarettes.Goose Creek's move is similar to those at many college football games, including Charleston Southern University, which implemented a clear bag policy this year." 

"In January, a student with a handgun and .32-caliber bullets was arrested at Goose Creek High. Last month, two students were caught with guns in separate incidents at North Charleston High — including one teen who suffered a gunshot wound when his firearm discharged in a classroom. Also, a Stall student was arrested after a Facebook post showed him brandishing a gun in the school's bathroom."

'Nuff said.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Make Vetting of Student Teachers Mandatory

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When a school district hires a teacher, all kinds of background checks are required. What happens if the person in the classroom is a local student performing "student teaching" requirements for a teaching certificate? 

What happened recently at Stratford High School in Berkeley County suggests such persons may be slipping under the radar. Note that the local rag carefully omits the name of the university the suspect attends. Anyone not Google-challenged can affirm it as Charleston Southern.

"A 23-year-old man interning as a student teacher at Stratford High School has been accused of sexually assaulting a student, authorities say."

"Kendrick Rashard Roach Jr., of Field Pine Avenue in Hopkins, was arrested Monday by Goose Creek police. He is charged with one count of sexual battery with a student 16 or 17 years of age, without force or coercion."

"Roach was a student teacher for the school's physical education program and oversaw the girl's class, according to an affidavit. Police allege he made sexual advances, which included touching her buttocks during class. On Sept. 14, the girl said Roach followed her and a witness to a vehicle in the parking lot after school and got into the back seat. He is accused of touching her inappropriately, exposing himself and asking her to perform oral sex."

"He has not returned to Stratford, according to administrators who learned of the allegations."

Charleston Southern University and the Berkeley County School District need to study this incident carefully. Lawsuits.