Monday, July 31, 2006

Newsless Update on Buist

Still no coverage of the District 20 constituent board meeting about a week ago? Apparently, the Newsless Courier has decided to take the word of CCSD regarding residences of this year's kindergarteners at Buist, despite evidence that it is faulty.

I wonder if I could sell them a bridge in Brooklyn.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Illegal Alien Story 1

Have you noticed yet that, though thousands (yes, thousands) of illegal aliens live and work in the Low Country, they never appear in the Newsless Courier? How could that be? Oh, yes, I forgot. The Newsless Courier's policy is not to identify them.

Such is the case with the first article in today's local section. A body is found roadside on Wadmalaw Island in the wee hours of the morning:

"Man found dead on roadside leaves big mystery for police"

How could this story have any connection to illegal aliens? Read on.

The dead man, Maynor Gomez, died of his injuries "either hit by a car or [fallen] from a car or ... thrown from a car on the Maybank Highway." Mr. Gomez "had been living in the Charleston area, though his exact address was unknown." Unknown by whom? Need I spell out that the area where the accident occured is heavily populated by illegal aliens? How do the police or anyone else determine who are the criminals among them?

Please do not insult my intelligence by suggesting that there are no criminals among illegal aliens. Of course, as far as we know, they are a small minority, as they would be in any other group of poor people. Still.

This victim, a Hispanic man in his early twenties, alien or not, may never be avenged. Sheriff's deputies are asking for information on the case.

Here's the most interesting part: they are also looking for a van he may have owned that sheriff's Capt. John Clark stated is "not at his house." That would be the house where "the exact address is unknown"? [Editor, where are you?].

So, we have a mysterious death of a victim who had been seen driving a mysterious van that was usually [but not now] parked at his "unknown" exact address. Got that?

Illegal alien story #1. Prove I'm wrong.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Buist Again and Again--Painful, Isn't It?

Sorry, I usually put in the headline from the Newsless Courier here, but since the story has not appeared yet (if ever), we'll have to forgo that part.

Okay, so that IS my complaint this time. On the local TV news (hardly a place I expect to get much in the way of real news besides accidents and fires), I learned that the District 20 constituent school board met earlier this week to discuss 17 questionable addresses in the accepted 40 kindergarten students for Buist Academy(remember 20 are taken from the list--see previous post on "Buist--A Magnet for Millionaires").

The TV reporter even went to an address on Tradd Street and spoke to the resident, who said on camera that no potential kindergartener resided there.

Then CCSD reportedly said that it was confident in its vetting of the home addresses of its list of 40.

Where is the Newsless Courier in all of this?

Missing in action!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"So Much the Unfairness of Things"

How often is a college varsity quarterback suspended from playing football for a year because of plagiarism? A freshman varsity quarterback? One who graduated from a real private school, where even the bottom third of the class manages SATs over 1100? [You are looking at the football field of Xaverian Brothers High School in Massachusetts.] Not one of the Prince Avenue Preps? It's got to be a first!

Pity Zack Azack. He takes full responsibility for his actions, as he should. The terse AP article in the Sports section of today's Newsless Courier does not disclose exactly what happened, but at least this time, lack of detail is not their fault--no news source has those details--yet. My best guess is that this freshman having a super year as a starting quarterback got in over his head with time management, was too proud to admit same and ask for help, wrote an important paper at the last moment that ended up plagiarizing sources, and was caught (probably by one of the got-cha computer programs utilized by many high schools and colleges today).

I'm sorry, but I have a VERY hard time imagining such a penalty's coming from Clemson or Auburn.

Duke now rises in my estimation--even if I did attend Carolina! Apparently it is one school where athletics do not rule over academics.

I suspect one of a dying breed.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Clear as Mud

Sunday's paper brought two op-ed style articles in its "Faith and Values" section, both written by local Presbyterian USA ministers on the workings of the recent meeting of its General Assembly:

"Finding real message in Trinity paper" by the Rev. Tom Harris of the Park Circle Presbyterian in North Charleston and "Bringing clarity to Presbyterian (USA) decisions" by the Rev. Spike Coleman of St. Andrew's Presbyterian in West Ashley. [I must confess that I was confirmed at St. Andrew's about a million years ago.]

Both ministers wrote to set the record straight--according to their lights--in each case suggesting that the Newsless Courier, along with other media, had "take[n] statements from the paper out of context," (Coleman) or "taken a few lines . . . out of context in order to be sensational and provocative" (Harris).

So far this topic seems quite boring, doesn't it? It's merely liberal apologists telling the faithful that nothing happened that was really unusual, despite what they may have heard to the contrary.

Thus, I stopped reading each article after a few paragraphs, but I confess I stopped taking Harris's seriously when he said, "Feminine metaphors for God abound in Scripture . . ., in Reformed confessional documents and by Reformed theologians such as John Calvin."

I stopped reading because he had made an idiotic statement, as anyone who knows the Bible, Presbyterian or otherwise, would discern immediately. Even the sentence's syntax was impossible.

Imagine my surprise when I spotted the "Clarification" in Tuesday's paper on this very sentence--a "Clarification," notice, not a "Correction." It seems that Harris's "op-ed" "was changed to say that feminine metaphors for God abound in the Bible and Reformed theological writings. In fact, Harris only cited two biblical references and mentioned Reformed documents that indicated 'God is not male'." Don't you just love the passive voice? It allows you to acknowledge a mistake without saying who is responsible.

My better half was so curious about what Harris had actually said (unclear, of course, in the "clarification") that he put in a quick phone call to Park Circle Presbyterian. It turns out that the Rev. Harris was quite unhappy about the substitution of "abound" for "cited," words that obviously are not synonymous! He had immediately called the reporter who handled the column to find out why she had changed his wording. She was also surprised because she had not done it. Apparently an EDITOR had changed it. They really do exist!

You see, if I didn't know otherwise, I would think that the Newsless Courier was trying to make fun of the Rev. Harris. After all, his complaint was that the media was sensationalizing what was really noncontroversial--and here his words were changed to be controversial!

It just might make the reader wonder about the REST of the paper!

Monday, July 17, 2006

CCSD: Send It Back to Planning 101

"Charleston County trims use of mobiles," by Diette Courege, The Post and Courier, July 17, 2006
"The ever-increasing number of students in Mount Pleasant means that Wando High School, a $64 million building that opened just two years ago [italics mine], already has outgrown its 3,000-student capacity and will have three mobiles moved to its campus, a first for the new school, this school year."

Is it really necessary to add my reaction to this statement? And "old" Wando sits empty. Hmm. And the headline is congratulatory. How about reporting the REAL story?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

"dixie burger grill" Arrives

Check out my "little brother" at the dixie burger grill for some thoughts on The DaVinci Code and today's Presbyterian Church USA.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

It All Begins to Make Sense: Segregated Schools

"Burke in takeover cross hairs: State verges on taking control from district," by Diette Courrege, The Post and Courier, July 13, 2006 AND

"Equality: A difficult lesson," by Steve Reeves, The Post and Courier, January 10, 2005

As a teacher I should have learned long ago never to take anything for granted. Silly me, I thought that, while I was living elsewhere in the late 1960s, the Charleston County School District had been desegregated! And, in fact, in January of 2005, the Newsless Courier ran an article about the 50th anniversity of Brown v. Board of Education "that outlawed segregation in public schools" and mentioned City Councilman Wendell Gilliard's transferring in 1969 from formerly "all-black Burke" to "all-white Rivers High."

Was Gilliard being facetious when he said, "Even today, you go into public schools and look around, you see that we still have a long way to go"? Yes, Mr. Gilliard, we've gone backwards. In 1969 Rivers still had some white students.

Since they were sitting in all-black classrooms, what went through the minds of students at Burke High School and Rivers Middle School on that January 2005 day when, exactly at the time the ruling was handed down, "the landmark court decision was read aloud by local schoolchildren"?

Part of the article mentioned interviews with those who "never got the opportunity to attend a desegregated school." Do you think the reporter saw the irony of his words? Probably not.

Today's article on Burke continues the dismal record of the CCSD and probably did not surprise anyone who has been paying attention. Courrege writes,

The trigger for Burke . . . was that the school failed to act on improvement recommendations from an External Review Team.

Teams visited 56 schools statewide, including nine locally, that rated unsatisfactory within the past two years. The team assessing Burke found that the same problems cited in December 2005 still were ignored in May of [2006]. It was the only school where that happened [italics mine].

Goodloe-Johnson, the CCSD Superintendent, points out that the school has had six principals in the last seven years, and she posits that the NEW and seventh principal will fix its problems. No one envies him his job.

Marvin Stewart, of the District 20 constituent school board (yes, the same one who made all the fuss about Buist) "attributed the school's failure to years of neglect from the county school board and previous superintendents as well as inadequate resources and a lack of parent involvement.
" Yes, and I'll bet the neglect dates to when Burke became a majority black school. Goodloe-Johnson calls it "high-minority," the understatement of the article! As far as I could determine, Burke has had no more than 1 or 2 white students in the ENTIRE school per year in the last five years. Same goes for Rivers. These ARE segregated schools.

As the earlier article states, equality IS a difficult lesson. Goodloe-Johnson is confident all can be "fixed" when she meets with the State Board in August. She may be correct, since Tennenbaum is the lame duck State Supertendent (she who thinks that Wisconsin requires only 13 credits for a high school diploma).

You would think that a black superintendent would take the problems faced by Burke and Rivers more seriously. On second thought, I guess not when she's a liberal bureaucrat.

Maybe being the first individual school in South Carolina to be declared in "a state of emergency" is just what IS needed.

That's assuming that in November a Republican wins as State Superintendent, of course.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Eats, Shoots & Misspells

Proof that the Newsless Courier does not use a spell-checker (!) is located on today's front page as the first item in the "Briefly"column that abstracts stories of interest found on its interior pages.

Never mind that the AP story the "brief" summarizes spelled it correctly, the editors of The P & C think that place of work where the pool of nine workers won the lottery after 16 years of trying is known as a factori. Seeing a misspelling I had never encountered in all my years of teaching, I tried reading the sentence again, both with and without my reading glasses, but my eyes had not deceived me.

Oh, well, at least it's pronounced that way!

Monday, July 10, 2006

A Magnet for Millionaires: Buist, Part 2

"Downtown board wants proof for Buist addresses: Spokesman: Parents don't have to give them that info," by Diette Courrege, The Post and Courier, July 6, 2006.

"Buist queries some parents: Multiple home addresses at heart of enrollment debate," by Diette Courrege, The Post and Courier, July 8, 2006.

Pity the poor members of the District 20 (downtown) constituent school board. As Charleston County School District spokesman Jerry Adams says, "they are not part of the magnet school process."

A little background here. Buist Academy occupies the building that was originally Buist High School, an all-black school back when segregation ruled. In order to make desegregation more palatable to whites, with the hope of preventing those who could from fleeing to private schools, when CCSD was desegregated, Buist became a magnet K-8 school with the policy that its student body of approximately 400 would be 60 - 70 % white and 30 - 40 % black. This ratio held for the next 40 years through careful selection processes.

In a convoluted application process parents of potential kindergarteners apply to the CCSD for one of 40 slots in Buist's kindergarten each year. The approximately 250-275 applications suggest the popularity of this kindergarten over virtually any public or private school in the area, a testament no doubt to the school's success and reputation. The 40 slots are divided into pools: 10 for siblings of students already at Buist; 10 for students who live in the downtown district; 10 for students from low-performing schools; and 10 county-wide slots.

A problem appears immediately. Let's assume no overlap from one pool to another (obviously, some downtown children could fall into three pools) and that 280 apply. If we also assume that applications are evenly divided, that would be 7 students vying for each slot in each category. Yet it's not likely that they're evenly divided. In fact, without the numbers being made public, anyone may conclude that the majority of the applications fall into the county-wide pool and are for students who do not live in a low-performing area--Mt. Pleasant, for example, or Sullivan's Island, or the Isle of Palms--or maybe the Crescent west of the Ashley. The number in that category could easily reach 100 or more.

It also doesn't take a genius to figure out that many parents of potential kindergarteners, remember, especially those living downtown, are clueless about the schools, the system, and the application process.

WHAT TO DO!! Your child is a genius, having proved it by being born to wealthy parents. Yet his or her chances of getting in from the county-wide list are abysmal--probably 1 in 10 or worse. But on the "living downtown" list the chances are more like 1 in 5. Such a temptation... especially since CCSD is notoriously slack on details--let's pretend that little Johnny-Joe lives at his father's business address or in a downtown condo owned by Dad's company! Perfect!

If you know anything at all about testing children under the age of 6, you are probably wondering how these 40 are selected out of so many. It's a LOTTERY! Yes, in each category 20 students are selected at random to be "tested." This testing occurs one-on-one with a qualified CCSD employee. After this pool/lottery/testing process, the 20 are ranked and the top 10 offered admission. Somehow in the past, this testing process produced a ratio of 60 % white and 40 % black for the total of 40; don't ask how!

What I do know is that the selection process is seriously flawed--the "random" selection, the one-on-one testing--and open to manipulation, especially on the part of CCSD. I also know from personal experience that testing children at this age is notoriously inaccurate. One of my children's IQ's rose 60 points from age 5 to 7!

When the lottery process began, I do not know, but it is obvious that, under a lottery system, there is no rationale for slotting 10 siblings of present students! Why not 10 more from low-performing schools?

Enter the District 20 constituent school board. Talk about rocking the boat. They want the incoming students on the "downtown" list to actually live downtown! Apparently they have the list of 40 for the coming school year, because first they sent a list of 6 names to CCSD of parents who are claiming "fraudulent addresses" as downtown residences; then they discovered at least 5 more. I bet you can guess the response of CCSD!


So now we have Buist's principal, Sallie Ballard, calling the first set of six to verify primary residences and checking property records. She's satisfied that all's well; the District 20 board is not. Can you blame them? Ballard won't divulge the reasons for the discrepancies. Adams (CCSD) spokesman says it's "none of [the board's] business."

No? What IS the board's business? Window dressing?

Sallie Ballard is also quoted as saying that she relies on CCSD for address validation until the final 10 downtown students are selected, and then she checks their addresses. WHY???? Funny, she doesn't check the addresses of any other group!

I return to MR. BIG (see previous post). Mrs. Ballard has assured the board that he told her he lives downtown. Let's see. He owns 15 properties downtown taxed at the commercial or rental rate and a house on Sullivan's Island, where he is taxed on his cars and claims the lower primary-residence rate as well as listing his telephone. If he lives downtown but claims the Sullivan's Island address as primary to get the lower rate, he's a LIAR; if he lives on Sullivan's Island but claims the downtown residence, he's a LIAR. Either way, he's working the system. Is THAT why the Newsless Courier dare not provide his name?

One Buist parent interviewed claims that it's "socially acceptable" among the rich to claim downtown business addresses to raise their children's chances of getting in. Funny thing, the poor and the lower-middle class don't have that option. I suppose this situation falls into the same category as shifting the tax burden from the rich to the poor, as the state legislature just did. We know Mr. Big's house on Sullivan's Island will reap the benefit. I bet his tax break would pay for the most expensive private kindergarten in the Low Country.

District 20 constituent members want an address audit of the entire school.

Sallie Ballard says she's meeting with Maria Goodloe to discuss if the verification procedures are adequate.

Meanwhile, the beat goes on.

One out of every two students who make it to ninth grade in CCSD fails to graduate from high school.

Buist Academy has a waiting list of 1500.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Who IS Mr. Big? Too Big for Us to Know!

While I was on vacation, a storm continued to brew over one of Charleston County's magnet schools, Buist Academy on the penninsula. Imagine! While one in every two students in the County drops out before high school graduation, the rich are using subterfuges to get their children into a downtown public elementary school. And I do mean rich, as in millionaire, for what else could someone be who pays primary-residence taxes on a Sullivan's Island home and owns 15 downtown properties, one of which he has claimed as a primary residence to get his kindergartener on a special list increasing the child's chances of acceptance to a free school.

This man, who is either a tax cheat or a liar, or both, CANNOT BE NAMED IN THE PAPER. That's how big he is. More to come....