Thursday, August 10, 2006

More Appropriate Headline: "A Band-Aid over Melanoma"

"State board leaves Burke in school district's hands," by Diette Courrege AND "Trouble on 'A-Team': Engelman departs," by Schuyler Kropf, The Post and Courier, Thursday, August 10, 2006, front page, above the fold.

It's hard to say which of these stories dealing with the future of public education in Charleston County is more disheartening.

  1. Is it worse that Joe Riley, after being mayor of Charleston for 30 years, during which time Burke High School has gone from a poor high school to an abysmal one, has the temerity to suggest NOW that he will make it a "renowned national model for excellence" so that it will not be taken over by the state? or
  2. Is it worse that the self-named "A-Team" running for the CCSD school board promising true reform turns out to be headed by "good ol' boy" Arthur Ravenel, Jr., who somehow believes that making millions mixing real estate and politics and having his name on a bridge gives him the right to be the new school board chairman?

It's a close call, but I have to go with # 2. After all, in the case of Burke, we have a DEMOCRATIC mayor putting on a good show for a DEMOCRATIC state supertintendent. If you believe politics wasn't a factor, well, you must have fallen off the turnip truck yesterday! But more importantly, the status quo will be changed ONLY by a change of personnel on the CCSD school board and in the state superintendent's office. Certainly not by Joe Riley, who has no control over what goes on in the school district!

AND, politics was also the factor for the "A-Team," the "Republican" slate in this non-partisan election. "Non-partisan" is a joke, and all those involved know it. It's "pig-in-a-poke" voting. This expression refers to buying a bag supposedly holding a valuable pig while trusting that the unseen pig actually exists. When the sucker opens the bag, it turns out to hold ... a worthless[substitute some worthless animal here].

For those of you not familiar with South Carolina before it elected its first Republican governor in a century, it used to be that all white folk were Democrats, Southern ones that is [think of Dixiecrats], with only a few "Post-Office Republicans" (liberal) hanging on by their fingernails. That's when Arthur Ravenel, Jr. was a Democrat. Now, the large majority of whites in South Carolina have moved into the Republican Party with the rest of the conservatives in the country. In fact, for most offices in the state, you must now be a Republican to get elected, and thus Arthur Ravenel, Jr. is a Republican. But, he's still a good ol' boy who believes that Charleston should be run by the same small group of old Charlestonians and their hangers on. That belief is the true cause for the public disagreement between him and Sandi Engelman.

Is there any way to fix the train wreck? Not this year. Talk about counting your chickens before they're hatched--arguing about who's going to be board chairman even before running, much less before being elected?

Whence my quote, "a Band-Aid over melanoma"? That's from the only sensible member of the state school board (one out of 12!), Ron Wilson, in regard to the district's presentation of how it will fix the Burke problem, "smoke and mirrors," he rightly names it. Apparently he CARED that Marvin Stewart, chairman of the downtown constituent school board, presented a "unanimous vote of no confidence in Charleston administrators." Why should anyone pay attention to them? They only live in the district and send their children to Burke!

By the way, if you are wondering who these state school board members are, apparently four of the 17 did not vote. Were Terrye Seckinger (Isle of Palms), Kristin Maguire (Sanford's appointee), Patsy Pye (Summerville), and Joe Isaac (Pawleys Island) voting "Yes"? Or were they too timid to be there?

If so, let's hold these lackeys of the state superintendent responsible! They're appointed by your legislative delegation. You can email them at .

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