Saturday, March 17, 2007

Buist: Where's the School Board We Elected?

The Buist lottery process needs complete sunlight at best; at worst, it is deliberately secretive and manipulated for the few. The Buist testing process at best is subjective and ill-informed and, at worst, disingenuous and subject to manipulation that favors the well connected.

Both of these procedures need a complete overhaul and the disinfectant of transparency, but CCSD remains unlikely to address them.

Who on the school board has the nerve to bring them up? Who on the school board, which purports to serve the entire community, is looking out for those most affected by failing schools--those motivated and bright students sentenced to an impossible school climate whose parents do NOT have the money to pay private school tuition?

What possible philosophy other than pure selfishness justifies robbing them of potential Buist admission for the child of a school board member or any other "mover and shaker" who CAN afford to pay for private school? Oh, I guess it would look bad in the next election if the school board member, knowing some of the desperate conditions downtown, was sending his or her child to a private school.

Well, we get the school board members we elect, don't we?

You do realize that, if ever enacted, true single-member districts, such as used for the County Council, would direct the attention of at least ONE board member to District 20's problems.

The memo (copied to the comments on my last post) that circulated to Buist supporters last week addresses NEITHER the distrust of the lottery procedure NOR distrust of testing procedures. It seems to focus on ways to remove any remaining hope from other Lowcountry students, District 20 students in particular. Their response that the "mob" is trying to destroy the very school it wants equal access to suggests that they do see the school as run for an elite, and not an intellectual elite either.

The well connected are on the offensive. They've already gotten several politicians to suggest doing away with constituent boards. Who's going to stop them from these new proposals? Not CCSD. Not any school board members that I know of.

No doubt CCSD will take their proposals quite seriously.

As Ben Franklin might have pointed out, is that sun rising or setting?


Anonymous said...

Dear Fellow Buist Parents,

This is a response to Mark Brandenburg’s email of 3-14. Thanks for sharing the views of many in the school. It is good for the parents who did the right thing to get the best results for their children to have a school-wide discussion. It is well overdue. We need candor and clarity and hopefully there is willingness to do that.

Because the County Board has continued to ignore the issues brought to light over a year ago by D20, the problems and the negativity have continued. The parents of the school can help stop this negative publicity. Not by writing their own “feel good” letters to the P and C but by demanding the cleaning up of the school’s admission policy and the requirement for the removal of all students from the current kindergarten class and the entering class who falsified their application in order to gain entry to the school. The parents can demand that the integrity of this process be returned. The perpetraitors (spelling intentional) and the administration do not want to fix the problem and the County Board has much bigger issues and selective focus.

The non-enforcement of existing admission policies has resulted in an extreme loss of actual downtown residents in recent years. For example, the current second grade class has only seven children who actually lived downtown when they entered kindergarten at Buist and the D20 board brought clear evidence of at least 6 families that falsified their application last year saying they lived downtown but did not at application time. The quoted “50% chance of “getting–in” for downtown families defies statistics and reality. The guarantee is only 25% of the seats and a review of the last few years acknowledges that the reality is much less than that.

This quote from Mark's email indicates that the County parents and the Community do not understand how bad the situation is for District 20 residents.

"and indeed, argue that District 20 should receive even greater
preference (as outlined above) on the ground that there is no other school
in District 20 which is rated "Excellent." While true, that observation also
applies for District 9, and indeed, almost every other constituent district in the county."

· Almost every district in the county - James Island, West
Ashley, Mt Pleasant and North Charleston have excellent rated
Elementary schools in its district. (Mt. Pleasant has at least 4 good alternatives to Buist)
· Buist lies within District 20 and all the other magnet schools in the county give
preference to children in its district. (Why shouldn’t the D20 Board “protect” its own?)
· District 20 children have very little chance of getting into any other magnet school - they can't even apply to some.
· And his statement does not reflect that all the District 20 schools other than Buist have no foreign language, or SAIL for 1st and 2nd graders and SAIL for all students whether they qualify or not, more limited Arts and PE offerings, comparatively bare libraries, IB accreditation etc. and are populated with many struggling students from off the peninsula, placed there by CCSD.

District 20 Families as a group has worked very hard to understand the shortcomings of the system because they had to know it to try to change it. It is not currently serving the needs of most families. District 20 families is inclusive and is very sensitive to the entire population CCSD serves. The comparison between Buist and the other D20 schools is very telling. Buist is privileged. We all benefit from that and yet others are "left behind".

And this quote from his email is especially damaging to all at Buist:

“…the former office building which is now Buist Academy. All of these efforts, though, pale in comparison to the recent success of the Buist teachers, Buist administrators, and Buist parents who…”

Life at Buist did not begin when the magnet status came about. Buist was an African American school. It hasn't always been a country club school.
Buist needs to be more inclusive or it will continue to alienate many people.

Instead of the SIC working on the policies of CCSD, why don’t they police their own “streets”- vis a vis -the other “lists” at Buist:
1. Parents who want the best for their children and followed the spirit and letter of the rules.
2. Parents who want what they perceive to be the best for their children and did not follow the spirit and letter of the rules for residency.
3. Parents who are encouraged to apply or assisted through help with the test or ideas about residency, (usually the connected) or minorities in K4 programs (to help maintain diversity).

All the negative publicity against Buist is due in part to the second group. Where was the SIC last summer when the phony address issue was hitting the press and ended up on national TV? Families in District 20 are often cheated out of a system that protects selected invitees and chooses to ignore the plethora of parents who falsified documents in order to have the advantage of being on the downtown list. Downtown families have been told to “go away and start your own Buist"- (This is a quote from Gregg Meyers Mt. Pleasant resident and Board Member whose children attended Buist). The average, middle-class, downtown family has gotten the short end of the stick. Period. For Years.

Thus District 20 Constituent Board has put forth their proposals in order to "serve their constituents" in the way the other districts have done. No one can fault them for
doing their job.

The Buist Task Force as composed by the CCSD is stacked against District 20. In my opinion, the D20 proposals waved at the SIC meeting have little chance of being approved by the "Big Board" and were not adopted by the Task Force.

While we do appreciate Mario’s effort as SIC chair, his characterization of these as legitimate proposals at the SIC meeting was misleading and designed to rally the Buist population into action. I attended a Task Force meeting and Mario was not “impartial".

It is a good idea for the Buist Community to get involved and dialogue is great.! Polarizing the school into County or District 20 camps is a good point of departure for a debate but, if either of Mark's proposals become reality, the elitist perception will increase and the top will blow off this community.

If a county-wide, Academic K-8 magnet is desired it should be built as a new idea in a new budget only after the basic needs of all CCSD children have been met and after quality alternatives for D20 children have been created. Buist Academy should remain where it is, it should be better integrated, completely cleared of opportunities to cheat on the lottery or admissions and the test should be completely rethought, made absolutely fool-proof and have opportunities for retesting in pre-determined circumstances. These things changed from within would be an outstanding example of leadership for the SIC.

The SIC should encourage all views and discuss what improvements to the school’s integrity can be achieved. They should listen to what others have said and why.
Believe me, I have learned so much in this difficult year since our second son did not gain entrance because of funny business and deaf ears to our pleas for a review of the process. The SIC should ask what is being done to improve the integrity to the highest level so that Buist families don’t have to whisper about the cheaters. Even the children of cheaters are being encouraged by their parents to lie to their friends about where they live.

I realized this year we did not get a class roster like in previous years. What is there to hide?

The SIC should hold a second meeting without Jerry Adams or Ms. Ballard and get to the truth. A swinging pendulum of extreme proposals that are not inclusive will damage the school irreparably. D20 Families has been asking for productive dialogue for a long time and the Buist Task Force as a forum is late to the dance and is not productive in its current form. There is enough intelligence and talent among the parents of the school to solve this problem without delay.

Richard and Jacqueline Gowe
Members of District 20 Families
Parents of a Buist Academy Student

Anonymous said...

The thoughtful letter of these Buist parents in response to Mr. Brandenburg’s call to arms against District 20 is an example of the sincere concern that the residents of the peninsula have tried to project all along through their persistence in support of all concerned, not just those at Buist. The downtown residents, white and black, including those with kids in the system and those whose kids aren’t, have been trying without success to get their concerns across to the CCSD administration and county school board. To date CCSD officials have given no indication that they are willing to see, hear or respond to the citizens of downtown. Beyond the admissions scandal involving Buist, multiple administrative problems continue to exist throughout District 20. These conditions can be directly linked to administrative decisions made at the top and are not the result of funding shortages no matter what CCSD continues to claim. With examples of some well run schools elsewhere in the county, the P&C is capable of documenting this contradiction if it really wanted to. Here is a little of what District 20 looks like beyond the walls of Buist.

Anonymous said...

Buist parents could help take some of the pressure off them if they would help the cause at Charleston Progressive. CCSD has repeatedly failed to fund comparable (or even adequate) staffing at Charleston Progressive, the county's only magnet school with no foreign language program. Buist not only lacks even one foreign language teacher to the four at Buist, it has not been staffed with full time educational leaders in a variety of areas that Buist takes for granted. Enrichment teachers in full time positions like music, art and PE are missing at Chas. Progressive. They have no assistant principal or guidance counselors qualified for the middle school level. Its library is being rebuilt from scratch, mostly with Title One funds. Ask yourself, even with more Title One funds at Chas. Progressive, how is it that CCSD still allocates a thousand dollars more GOF spending at Buist than it does at Chas. Progressive?

Anonymous said...

The reason many downtown minority kids often aren't prepared for Buist or for challenging academic programs later is because the schools they are assigned to attend are uniformly inadequately managed. Buist parents could easily help to apply pressure to see to it that highly qualified principals are in place and on-site in some of these downtown schools in greatest need. Instead current policies from 75 Calhoun indicate that's not likely to happen. CCSD pulled off a mid year removal of a qualified principal at Fraser in January only to have that principal replaced with at first an unqualified substitute as an interim. Please don’t try to fill in the blank on this one by saying “Maybe the Superintendent was trying to improve the situation there by….” There is no excuse for this decision except to reposition CCSD officials before the state began its required review of this failing school. The decision to dump the existing principal when they did had nothing to do with improving the school’s leadership or its academic environment. CCSD is now proposing to appoint a “part time” principal for this failing school. It will now be required to "share" this principal with another school also at risk, one that uses a totally different academic program than Fraser. This is not an easy mesh because both are competing programs that were out-sourced contracts to educational industry support companies. These were implemented at the behest of senior CCSD officials years ago and can’t be easily changed without more confusion to both schools. After protesting the delay of appointing a principal in a suburban county school by CCSD board members last summer, what does Jon Butzon and the county PTA have to say about the Superintendent’s decision to short change the students and staff at Fraser?.

Anonymous said...

Forget Academic Magnet and the School of the Arts for these kids. Unless CCSD lays a better foundation in the other District 20 schools Burke can't be expected to correct what began with poorly managed elementary programs. Buist's presence in downtown has been both a curse and a blessing that points out these inequities. Buist, with its advantages, is is a perfect location to help turn that around in other downtown schools. Until Buist parents see that, Burke will continue to be fighting an futile battle to prepare students who have entered grossly unprepared.

Within Burke’s high and middle school programs the situation isn’t much better. CCSD has told state officials in its most recent quarterly review of the county’s most consistently failing schools that Burke is making improvements and is in full compliance with state mandates for its failing administrative record. The facts are actually different from what the Superintendent is reporting to the state.

The name of a recently retired qualified teacher for a core academic course at Burke High School is being presented to state officials as the "teacher of record". Instead the classes are currently being led by a substitute teacher not sufficiently qualified to teach in that subject area. Also at Burke insufficient text books for some critical academic subjects are requiring students to share books. Because of shortages, no one is allowed to take these textbooks home for study outside the class. Until recently Burke middle school students didn't have study guides to the PACT tests distributed to them, weeks after similar workbooks had been made available to students at other Charleston County schools.

Burke's only truly qualified foreign language teach with vested interest in the success of that school, his alma mater, has just been appointed the Assistant Principal of Buist. The AP position at Buist went vacant for over a year and a half because that was the choice of the Administration and no one else. Buist owes it to help Burke find an equally great replacement for this highly qualified teacher/mentor that Burke has now advanced to become an administrator at Buist.

Anonymous said...

Where do these Buist parents stand on downtown residents attempts to organize a charter school for math and science at the middle and high school grades? If the Buist parents say that District 20 should organize its own school then would they consider using the considerable influence they have on getting CCSD administrators and county board members to support this effort? And if Burke supporters want meaningful and high paying trades programs restored to that school along with the Advanced Placement courses it once had brought back, then wouldn't it be wise for Buist supporters to find a common interest in advancing these goals for these supporters of alternative opportunities located downtown. The success of these programs may translate into taking some of the pressure off Buist.

Anonymous said...

If Buist parents and staff are genuinely up in arms about the questions District 20 residents have raised concerning Buist, then shouldn’t they understand the outrage that District 20 residents feel about the gross inequities CCSD continues to tolerate at other District 20 schools? How much more inequity and unfairness in the administration of their schools should students and parents at these other downtown schools be required to accept? If a majority of Buist parents, the vast majority of whom are non-District 20 residents, want to advance their own personal interests at Buist, that's OK, too, but then they should also waste no time in changing their focus by immediately and actively supporting these people who have brought a light to CCSD's total and apparently callus mismanagement of District 20. What's the editorial staff at the P&C got to say about all this? The two major weekly papers downtown, despite limited budgets and circulations, have done a much better job of investigating the alternatives within this debate, and there are many very attainable alternatives.

Anonymous said...

It's not Buist's problem that downtown schools are bad. If they are as bad as you posters say then how could they handle courses like foreign languge and SAIL anyway? Maybe they don't need as much art and music and P.E. when the core subjects are where they should be focusing.

Buist students are the brightest in the county and need varied stimulation like the IB program. The only negative about Buist( and I know because we've had various children there for the last ten years) is that the kids don't really get how smart and special they are because they are surrounded by children just like themselves. They don't get the accolades they would receive as the smartest kid in the class like they would in a "regular" class room. Buist is necessary for the accelerated learners in the county and dear Sallie will fight tooth and nail not to let in the unqualified downtown kids.

The YCAT might not be perfect but you need something to screen people! So what if those that can't make it get the boot? It's not a school for "average" children. Unfortunately some unqualified kids score well on the YCAT and there has to be a way to get them out of the school. I'm sure it's done in a very kind way by Sallie. It's sink or swim. Remember it is "Buist Academy for ADVANCED Studies". It is an ACADEMIC MAGNET SCHOOL. It is totally neccary for exceptional children to be in the right sort of classroom.

Anonymous said...

Man, these Buist people just don't get it, do they?

Anonymous said...

I honestly don't even know where to begin in my response to you. Any chance you're wearing a white robe with a cone-shaped hat? This is the 21st century. Does Plessy v. Ferguson mean anything to you? It was 1898 and it established the "separate but equal" clause. As far as I'm concerned, Dist. 20 is pre- Plessy v. Ferguson. Our schools are separate and UNEQUAL.

Anonymous said...

Who said anything about race? This is about poverty. Sallie wishes she had more black kids at Buist but they don't come from downtown Charleston. They didn't even when there was a downtown minority list. Fake addresses are nothing new for black or white parents at Buist. Sallie had to have known that few black kids from downtown were there in the first place.

Give SAallie a break. She recruited and did test prep at 4K programs on a James Island and not downtown for a number of good reasons. For one she didn't want to steal from the downtown elementary schools that need numbers for Maria Goodloe Johnson's points system. Sallie lives downtown, taught downtown, and has been at Buist for decades. She knows where to recruit and it isn't downtown.

Plus, you can tell by the way the downtown people are with all their headlines, she wouldn't want them in her school. Downtown people nitpic and dwell on the negative. She doesn't want them looking over her shoulder all of the time. If Sallie ends up with overinvolved crazy parents at least they aren't living near the school. Who can blame her? Buist is much better off with the suburban parents. They trust her and Mrs. Barrett to mold the school into what it should be.

Anonymous said...

I've been told that the P&C doesn't print letters to the editor that have already appeared somewhere else, let alone in another local newspaper. Well the Newless Courier not only let the Rev. Darby present his left over take on Buist and downtown parents (see editorials Mon., Mar. 19), but the P&C didn't even check Joe's facts. At least The Chronicle had the courage to challenge his assumptions about downtown, his take on schools and Black leadership even if the P&C didn't. And for those of you who say this isn't about race and CCSD's active policy of segregation (and inequity), read on:

Anonymous said...

According to the Rev. Joe Darby, who doesn't live downtown and didn't send his kids to downtown schools, he questions the sincerity and veracity of some downtown parents (presumably only the White parents) who want to have access to Buist or to create additional choices such as a charter school.

In Rev. Darby's recycled editorial appearing in today's P&C he says: "I’d also suggest another solution for all peninsula parents seeking a quality education for their children — enroll your children in Burke High School. The impact of those new students would be profound. New advanced placement and college prep classes would have to be created, new faculty added, the overall quality of education and diversity would increase, and a state- of-the-art building would ac­tually get the enrollment and use that it needs and deserves."

What’s wrong Rev. Darby, the kids at Burke don’t deserve those things now? It's really interesting that this self ordained (no pun intended) and self righteous individual has revealed himself to be a hypocrite of the first order. So he admits that the only way for CCSD to fully fund and properly staff a downtown school that is currently 100% minority, or nearly so, is if a significant number of White kids suddenly transfer in. The irony is this is about race and about how the status quo at the top is more important than the kids and teachers stuck at the bottom. So the truth comes out that Rev. Darby and his buddies are satisfied that downtown schools should remain the way they are if only for spite.

I seem to recall a story about two mothers, a baby and a king named Solomon. So if the Rev. Darby were counseling the mother whose child had been wrongly claimed by another, he would advise her to go with splitting the baby, too, just for spite. Rev. Darby, for a man of the cloth, I think you need to go back and do some homework.

Anonymous said...

Yes, parents should trust Nicole and Sallie with the school. That District 20 Consituent Board has no business getting involved with the goings on at Buist. When our school is acheiving with high PACT scores and the parents are raising $60,000 with our auction and even more with Sallie Foster wrapping paper for the foundation themselves we obviously know how to take care of things without outside interference.

The girls with the notebook issue was not the business of the Constituent Board. I can't believe anybody brought up the third floor bathroom stuff. That was too sensitive to be brought before any board or on a message board like this one. Boys will be boys and girls will be girls. Sallie understands and gets middle schoolers and has compassion for those going through puberty. Acting out and sexuality are part of the middle school reality.

Also, who hasn't written something mean about somebody sometime? It was up to the paents to discipline those girls not the school. Sallie understood that. She knew that some parents would be harsh and pay for therapy for their kids without anybody else involved. She is very close with one of the mothers and of course she knew it could be handled at home. When Sallie knows the family well and knows that they will handle it why should she be the one to discipline kids? I think that those girls suffered in the end a lot more than that boy.

I'm sure that kind of stuff happens in every school public and private. People were only shocked because of the high profile of the mother in the school. As far as that other incident somebody alluded to--the school didn't burn down, did it? It's still standing. Teachers made a big deal about that only because of who the parent was. Neither one of these things would have been a big deal if it was just Joe Schmoe off the street. I'm sure the bathroom incident issue would have been all over the paper if it too involved a child of somebody everyone knew. Thank God it was kept quiet (until some of you started talking about it here!) Some people (even teachers at Buist) wanted children and Mrs. Ballard and the whole school drug through the mud for stuff that happens everywhere.

I'm of the camp that wants Buist in Mt. Pleasant and it should be countywide admissions only. If all of the other best schools are over here Buist should be too. It really says something that despite all of the odds stacked against us in the lottery most of the kids at Buist come from Mt. Pleasant.

Diversity is great but it's not Sallie's fault. She can't spend all her time checking addresses and trying to recruit people. Buist is the kind of school people need to seek out. The most qualified kids are usually the ones whose parents know about their options and seek them out themselves. That's just real life.

Leave Buist alone. No school is perfect but what happens inside of Buist is soley the business of Sallie. She shouldn't have to answer to anybody because she is delivering. Downtown is lucky that Buist is there. I think that wonderful Maria Goodloe understands out position and wishes downtown people would just shut up and leave us alone. Dr. Goodloe has her priorities in line. She leaves Sallie alone. The school doesn't belong to downtown. It was started to serve the best and brightest. It's not Sallie's fault what happens at Charleston Progressive. Is she suppossed to ask for less for Buist so that she can have as little as Charleston Progessive has? Of course not! Busit was founded to have foregin language and to be THE ACADEMIC MAGNET SCHOOL! I don't know how Charleston Progrssive was founded because it's not my busines! My kids don't go there and I wouldn't try to tell the principal there how to run her school. Sallie is a fine lady and should be treated with respect. She's only human and you people are picking everything she does apart. She and Nicole have to answer to nobody.

All this publicity has hurt our kids. How are we to explain headlines and ABC news to our kids? I think that all this BS has even hurt our relations with the Academic Magnet HIgh SChool and that's not fair. I hope it's not true that the Magnet High people have a low opinion of Buist because of what the media and downtown people say. I'm told by people with older kids that admissions to the Magnet were not what they once were this year because of all that stuff last summer. I want the Magent High admsissions people to study the issues and not to believe everything they read in the paper about Buist. Mr. Brandenburg knows what Buist is and should be. Maybe he should write another letter to the Magnet and publish it in the Post and Courier explainig what we have to deal with at Buist. I don't want this bad publicity hurting our kids chances at the magnet anymore than it might already have. After all, Nobody is better qualified for the magnet high school than a student from "Buist Acadmey for Advanced Stuies" the academic magnet elementary school!

Anonymous said...

What's really sad about these defensive Buist arguments like the 8:32 posting is this is exactly what the anti-integration arguments sounded like in the early 1960's. There's no difference in their core arguments, "It's not my fault these people are not as good as people like me are. Their problems are not my business." I wonder what Gregg Meyers would feel like if he would ever stop to consider that he is totally surrounded and supported on this issue by the same type of people from that earlier time. These are the same segregationist arguments offered by the same type of people that he holds in such contempt.

Anonymous said...

Take heart Buist parents! Believe it or not Joe Riley is not on the side of the downtown people we are against. He and Maria Goodloe Johnson understand our side of things. We also have Gregg Meyers and Toya Hampton Green. Joe has wisely taken a hands off approach to the downtown schools for thirty years! Joe, Gregg, Sallie Ballard, Maria Goodloe Johnson and Toya are on the same page when it comes to dealing with the problems downtown. Of course we all know that Sanford has family and family by marriage at Buist so he will protect our school if he nneds to find out about all this mess. Good people like Riley and Sanford will cross party lines to keep things the way they have always been. If it ain't broke don't fix it, right?

Anonymous said...

Yes, and judging by the article by Reverand Darby in the paper today we have him on our side too. Why don't these downtown people just trust professionals like Maria Goodloe and Joe Darby? They will do the right thing for those downtown schools because they are black themselves. Everyone should mind their own business and let the people in charge set the policy and do the work they need to do.

I'm sure Maria Goodloe Johnson has special programs at Burke and othe downtown schools to meet the special needs of those children. Trust her and leave her alone. It's just like with Sallie Ballard. They've been at this for years and they know best.

Darby is right. These downtown white people need to put their kids in Burke so that the school will get more stuff. I appreciate Reverand Darby for defending Buist from downtown people. He and Maria know what's best. Quit questioning everything. Also, like Reverand Darby said I bet a lot of those people can afford tuition at Mason Prep and Porter Guad so keep your noses out of Buist. The only kids that should receive "priority" at Buist are those of us from Mt. Pleasant whose kids do best there. Put Buist in Mt. Pleasant!

Anonymous said...

Buist lottery stresses nerves, takes toll on dreams

The Post and Courier

Nicole Barrett couldn't breathe Tuesday as she waited for the lottery results. Her number would affect the future of her daughter's education.
She thought her children would attend the same school where she taught. Those dreams became more real once she became a teacher at Buist Academy and after her daughter, Madison, was born.
But Madison doesn't get treated any differently from the 226 other students who applied for one of 40 spots in the Buist Academy kindergarten class.
Buist is one of the best schools in the state. It's often called the "private public school" by those familiar with its strong academic reputation. It's a school so desirable that some say applicants have lied about where they live to better their children's chances for acceptance.
On Tuesday, Barrett sat in a room with roughly 20 other parents and waited for fate to take its course. She can control so much of her daughter's life, but not this, one of the most important decisions for Madison's early years.
Madison's name was on one list, the county-wide list, and all of the school's 227 applicants were on that list. The school has four lists - students who live downtown, siblings of current students, students zoned to attend low-performing schools and students countywide - and it draws 24 students from each list to take its admissions test. It accepts the first 10 who pass the test from each list.
"Number 18," said the woman announcing lottery results. "Madison Barrett."
Her mother dissolved into tears and left the room.
"At least I know we have a chance," she said as she smiled and wiped her eyes outside.
Inside the room, Bill Netherland listened to the results. He and his wife, Dorothy, wanted to live downtown, so they moved from their Mount Pleasant home to the peninsula five years ago. She became pregnant shortly thereafter, and her husband immediately started thinking about where his child would go to school.
His options for a neighborhood school downtown were grim, and Buist Academy is the only school rated excellent.
The downtown constituent school board adopted a policy to give downtown students priority for admission to the school, but the mandate has been ignored by the school and the county school board. Some downtown residents sought an injunction to stop Tuesday's lottery, but Circuit Judge R. Markley Dennis declined to grant the motion, saying nothing in state law gave him the authority to get involved in the day-to-day operations of the school district.
As Netherland's daughter grew, so did her father's anxiety. He and his wife researched alternatives to Buist and got on waiting lists for at least five schools. He learned about the process Buist uses to accept students and attended the school's open house.
The only comfort he found was knowing that he wouldn't settle when it came to his daughter's education. She was going to attend a good school, even if it meant taking out a loan or getting a second mortgage on his house. He even would consider moving to a different part of the county if he wasn't satisfied with her school options.
He would do anything, he said, because her education is that important.
And then Tuesday came.
He tapped his foot on the ground and his pen on the paper that he brought to write down his daughter's numbers. He moved to the edge of his seat and crossed and uncrossed his legs.
He would get three numbers, one because he lived downtown, another because his daughter was zoned to attend a low-performing school and a third because he lived in Charleston County.
"Number 23," the woman boomed. "Isabel Netherland."
"That's not good enough," her father mumbled as he shook his head and wrote down the number.
It would be the best number he got. His others were so high that he said, half-joking, "She has a better chance of going to Harvard."
He didn't joke much more after he left the lottery room. He was quiet and didn't smile. "This would have been what we wanted," he said.
Staff writer Schuyler Kropfcontributed to this report.

Reach Diette Courrégé at or 937-5546.

Anonymous said...

Same week, same reporter, same interview subject-no connections made by reporter?

Buist Academy in globally recognized program

The Post and Courier

Buist Academy teachers don't tell students what they should know.

Teachers at the downtown magnet school force students to ask questions and think to get to answers.

Inquiry-based learning is a key component of the school's kindergarten through fifth-grade classes, and the use of that teaching method has helped Buist become an International Baccalaureate Organization-authorized school for its Primary Years Program.

Charleston County schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson

called the February authorization 'a highly sought-after honor that's deeply respected in the education community.' It's an expensive program, but it's an investment well worth making, she said.

'I don't think this should be the only school like this in Charleston County,' she said Thursday. 'Clearly, we don't have enough opportunities for choice.'

She's willing to commit district money to a specific school to help it gain IB authorization, but she refused to specify which school. James Island Charter High is the only other IB school in Charleston County, and Fort Dorchester High is the only IB school in Dorchester County. There are no IB schools in Berkeley County.

Nearly all of the money to make the program possible at Buist has come from the school's nonprofit foundation. It paid nearly $9,000 in IB application fees and has committed to paying about $10,000 annually for the required teacher training and more than $3,000 annually in membership fees.

The IB program was established in the 1960s to create a common curriculum and diploma for students who moved from country to country. Nicole Barrett

, IB coordinator for the school, said the program shows teachers the best way to teach and draws on strategies used around the world. The program also has a strong international component, in that lessons are taught from a global perspective. When students learn about plants, they learn about plants from around the world, she said. 'I wish I would've been taught this way,' Barrett said.

Students will leave knowing the world is much larger than the peninsula, and they will be ready to work with people of other cultures, Principal Sallie Ballard said.

Schools that want to be authorized by the IB organization have to believe in its mission and implement its instructional strategies before getting approval. Buist has been working on becoming an IB school for five years.

Fifth-grader Peter Hogan said he likes the IB program because his teachers' lessons incorporate movies and discussions rather than just textbooks. 'It keeps me more interested in class,' he said.

By the numbers

357: Schools worldwide authorized to offer the program.

104: Schools in the U.S. authorized to offer the program.

10: Schools authorized in South Carolina offering the program.

39: Schools in South Carolina offering one of the IB programs.

1,963: Schools in 124 countries offering IB programs.

Anonymous said...

Those Buist parents that wrote in should be loyal to the school. It's not the Charleston Way to speak outside the family. I'm sure Mr. Brandenburg has had to deal with the Hampton Park crowd before in his job at the Citadel. That part of downtown is full of a bunch of people from away that don't know how things are done here. That's why Joe Riley doesn't pay attention to their issues about schools.

That couple should feel lucky they got one kid into Buist. They were the ones stupid enough to move into a downtown school district. If you can't afford private school tuition move to Mt. Pleasant like the rest of us. Do you think your too good for the suburbs? I'm sure even Riley and Darby wonder why you are crazy enough to live in that part of Charleston. Where's your loyalty to Buist? Sounds like yankee ways to me. Sallie isn't from Charleston but she knows the rules of the game.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Maria Goodloe, Riley, Joe Darby, Gregg Meyers and Toya Green have a secret plan to desegregate downtown schools and that is why they are against the Charter High School downtown. Maybe they think the public just isn't ready to hear it but they must be working for desegregation of some sort. . We should trust them. Wasn't Gregg Meyers a cival rights attorney? Nancy Cook laughed when someone said that it was educational apartheid. You need to trust these people just like you need to trust Sallie Ballard. These are the kinds of people that fight for children in poverty. Just look at all they have done for the great downtown schools. Gregg Meyers has worked tirelessly, right? Joe says he talks to Maria all the time. I'm sure they are coming up with a great plan. Maybe one day we will hear it.

Anonymous said...

If you read the above message with complete sarcasm (or better yet, read it using a Mayor Joe impression), you can have your laugh for the day. Remember, laughter is a great medicine. Too bad laughter won't fix our downtown schools.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the NAACP, I heard the local President, Dot Scott helps pay the tuition for her grandchildren to attend Porter-Gaud. Can anyone verify this?
If she "believes" in Dist. 20 and Dr. G-J, why doesn't she put her grandchildren in our schools. According to CCSD, Memminger and Burke are also "county-wide" schools.
The NAACP needs to practice what they preach.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should start outing these people who publicly support CCSD officials and current policies, but just not with their own kids or family? Of if they do, it's only with the guarantee of a spot in a magnet school.

Anonymous said...

If you haven't picked up on it yet, one of the fake addresses used in last year's lottery was reported to benefit an in-law of Gov. Sanford's brother.

Anonymous said...

This must be made up! What is the fake address name if you know so much!

That's right. If you don't like the way things are done here then why are you living here? More newcomers should be like Sallie Ballard and play by the Charleston rules. She knows what side her bread is buttered on.

You have to play the game to get anything done. Again, a school like Buist has an important mission. Someitmes poor children get in and Sallie helps them get into boarding schools! It's called Lawrenceville. Everything else is worth it if she can do that for somebody every once in a while.

Anonymous said...

Is this why the fake address listed was handed to the school board at public meetings twice and they did nothing about it? Or did it have something to do with the other very powerful real estate name on the fake address list?

Anonymous said...

OK if you guys know so much name all of the names. If they did something clearly wrong then why is everyone so scared? Maybe you should be scared if the Post and Courier was.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Gregg Meyers heavily involved in Sanford's first campaign? This sure is a small town. At least Sullivan's Island is. I'm not even going to talk about "Mr. Big."

Anonymous said...

Another name that used a fake address in this year's kindergarten, but you fill in the blank. He's a Broad St. area attorney. She owns an art gallery in the same area. They live on Folly Beach but they register their child for the Buist lottery as if they live in a duplex on Addleston Ave. near Hampton Park. Instead of just being on the county-wide list, they can claim Dist. 20 AND a failing school list. They hit the jack pot. To bad the older sibling had already graduated or they would have been on ALL FOUR LISTS! You see that's how you play the game. Everyone looks the other way.

Anonymous said...

Then there's the family that lives in I'On in Mt. Pleasant with an older sibling already attending Buist and listed in the Buist directory as living in I'On. But when their youngest child is placed in the Buist lottery in the spring of 2006, lo and behold, the address is 70 Church St. in downtown Charleston. This kid was entitled to two lists, county-wide and sibling. But they had to go for the gold and used a fake address. Sure enough, the Dist. 20 list was the charm. Ms. Ballard knew in advance it was a fake address and so did the Super, but that didn't stop Miss Maria from going out of her way to say the claims of fake addresses were 'unsubstantiated'. What does it take to force educators to be honest?

Anonymous said...

It's curious that some of these addresses were used by parents who had never owned these properties, they didn't rent them or even make it look like they had ever lived in them. The addresses used on these applications were 100% fake, so fake that if anyone checked them they couldn't have found any evidence that the family had ever occupied the address. The Buist Academy for Advanced Studies' principal isn't that intellectually challenged, is she?

Anonymous said...

It's curious that some of these addresses were used by parents who had never owned these properties, they didn't rent them or even make it look like they had ever lived in them. The addresses used on these applications were 100% fake, so fake that if anyone checked them they couldn't have found any evidence that the family had ever occupied the address. The Buist Academy for Advanced Studies' principal isn't that intellectually challenged, is she?

Anonymous said...

Last summer MGJ claimed that many of these people were suddenly separating or going through divorces and that is why so many of the fake address crowd was living so below their means in various parts of the city. A real estate tycoon's grandchildren had even moved in with him! MGJ said that this was all a private matter so the fake address crowd was trusted to not show divorce or separation agreements. Somehow all those fake address kids were no longer living at the beaches and in waterfront properties their parents owned but in modest dwellings downtown or with their grandparents.

Anonymous said...

It would appear that the children listed as living on New St. downtown, including one family that is reportedly very close to the mayor, have also thankfully been reunited with their parents on the sea lslands. One house is vacant and for sale while the other looks like the grandmother's home back to normal and ready for the house tours with not a single child's toy in sight. Both families raised the roof over anyone checking them out. Each had siblings already at Buist using non-Dist. 20 addresses. Turns out the parents never had any intentions of those children residing on the peninsula. It was just a cover. One lesson learned was that the ones who protest most are probably faking it. Ms. Ballard and Miss Marie were fully aware of both New Street fakers who entered Buist on a fraudulent downtown application.

Anonymous said...

Only well connected people would have been so fiercely defended by CCSD when what they did was in black and white. Now the Brandenburg group wants to get rid of the downtown list to further keep out downtown children. What was the point of the downtown list when 6 of the top 10 were fake addresses anyway? Does anyone know the numbers of fake addresses on the failing schools list? Buist has nothing to be proud of until they stand up for what is right. They are teaching the children of Buist very bad lessons about ethics and community responsibility.

Buist parents that whisper about how poorly Mrs. Ballard and other school leaders have handled the school are just as guilty if they don't speak up for what is right.

Anonymous said...

I also think it is highly inappropriate for a Buist teacher to be involved in a push to get rid of the District 20 list. I hope she was unaware that her name was used. She is not yet a Buist parent and I can't help but think that admissions policies are not part of her job description. Even teachers at Frasier last week felt they had to be careful as CCSD employees in expressing their opinion.

Anonymous said...

BLOG BLOG BLOG away but nobody with any power in this town cares. I'm an outsider but it's obvious that there is a lot of corruption at Buist that CCSD, the local paper and other elected officials covered up.Even if you don't care about Buist Academy you have to know that CCSD shouldn't be given the benefit of the doubt. Your children and your tax dollars are in their hands. We all deserve better than this.

Anonymous said...

What about the parents of a Buist lottery applicant who lives on Headquarters Island on the way to Kiawah? It's a gated community with 3,000 sq.ft. million dollar plus, waterfront homes. These parents claimed they lived in a six hundred sq. ft., 1 bedroom student apartment near MUSC. It was an investment property they were renting to students at the time, but they still used it to claim to a Dist. 20 seat at Buist for their child. If the Buist principal understands that "an apartment above a coffee shop" isn't a true address for an applicant )in her well worn example), then she knew that this applicant was cheating by claiming a false address located only 6 blocks away from where the principal herself lives?

Anonymous said...

The purpose of a magnet school is to encourage distant students to be merge in an attractive learning environment with close-in or neighborhood students. Unless the real purpose is only to deceive US Justice Dept. and Federal Court officials into thinking that Dist. 20 schools are racially diverse when in fact they are more segregated now than they were in 1964.

Anonymous said...

What are they afraid of if the constituent school board were to be involved in the admissions review process? It would seem there is no better group to competently oversee the review. They live downtown, they were elected to serve their community, they are sworn to uphold the law and they have no other vested interests in the outcome (at least none that couldn’t be immediately exposed or be subject to prosecution if they tried to exploit it).

What CCSD officials have never explained is that every parent/applicant to Buist has the right to appeal a decision of a constituent board to the county board if they feel they have not been properly served. If the Dist. 20 board incorrectly found that a person’s claim to a seat on a given list was disallowed, the parent could easily seek a reversal from the county board. The only problem with this path is that it would have exposed everyone and put all claims on record. Such hearings are usually closed unless requested otherwise by the parents involved so there is no danger of privacy violations and board members are legally bound to respect that.

By CCSD officials not following this appeals process for the admissions review and student transfer process, as very specifically prescribed under the Act of Consolidation, the county school administration and county school board leaders are knowingly keeping this entire process “off the books”, as it relates to Buist. There is no other elementary school in Charleston County that CCSD operates this way. The fact that CCSD has refused to change these procedures, or even to honestly address them, all but confirms that some CCSD officials and the current Buist administration have more than just a passing professional interest in the outcome of the admissions process that it is now following.

Sounds like the state ethics commission should be looking at this to see exactly what “valuable considerations” are being exchanged for an admission ticket to Buist. We already know the dollar value of a seat at Buist since it is being compared so often to local private school tuition.

Anonymous said...

The cheaters should be named. Expose the applicants and administrators who cheated. For the moment, keep describing them leaving their names out of their stories in the off chance that Buist officials will begin to clean up this mess. If not, the cheaters should be ‘outed’ for all to see. It's not like alternatives to fix this problem haven't been presented.

Most Dist. 20 residents have until recently been willing to forgive the cheaters in the upper grades if the problem had been fixed as promised by county board members, starting with those entering all grades for the first time in the fall of 2006. Instead the administration tried to ignore the complaints altogether and then it actively blocked the actions taken by constituent board representatives and parents of applicants who had been displaced by the cheaters. The intransigence of CCSD and Buist officials in resolving the obvious problems in the Buist admissions process suggests that cheaters throughout the entire school should also be exposed.

Inaction in the case of admission cheats at Buist is not an option. Past Buist directories have been circulated, compared with names posted on various lists and cheaters have been identified. Names should be posted. These are public documents so no privacy laws have been violated. Recognizing that there is an remote chance that reason (or it might just be reasonable self interests), could prevail to get CCSD officials and county board members to come down off their pedestals and fix this mess..

And we pay these people, including perks, how much?

Anonymous said...

Buist parents: please stop posting on this web site. You are not helping our case. Let Mrs. Ballard or Mr. Brandenburg speak for us publicly.

alum45 said...

And when will they speak publicly? Looks like some people are getting really ticked off by all the public discussion of public issues. Is this how they shut down the press?

Anonymous said...

Go ahead shut D20 out of Buist Academy. It was opened in Dist. 20 as a sham anyway, just to give CCSD some cover as it claimed that downtown was racially integrated when it really wasn't (and still isn't). Buist's relationship to Dist. 20 is all that legally stands in the way of countywide bussing & abolishing attendance zones which upholds CCSD's county-wide policy of de facto segregation. CCSD unlawfully denies transportation to students when their parents under NCLB want them to attend schools not on the official list available to that student. Mt. Pleasant here we come!

Anonymous said...

To the perseon a few ahead of my post---
That's right let Sallie Ballard speak for you like she fibbed on National TV. I sure would trust someone like that to speak for me....maybe she has some swamp land in Florida to sell to. Go ahead loose your shirts oh I mean the little respect that you have left.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen the new Buist Directory? It's more interesting than even the one from last year. Many of the fake address people are using their real addresses already! Are they this arrogant because of the powerful people they are connected to?

Anonymous said...

I laughed at Mrs Kusminder, Constiuent Board member,written comments about the teacher recruited from Burke to serve as the Assistant Principal at Buist Academy. She writes as posted,"Burke's only truly qualified foreign language teacher with vested
interest in the success of that school, his alma mater, has just been
appointed the Assistant Principal of Buist. The AP position at Buist
went vacant for over a year and a half because that was the choice of
the Administration and no one else. Buist owes it to help Burke find an
equally great replacement for this highly qualified teacher/mentor that
Burke has now advanced to become an administrator at Buist."

Mrs. Kusminder, please be reminded that it's impossible to make any teacher stay anywhere.
Was he supposed to ignore his administration
degree and invest in teaching foreign language at Burke for the remainder of his
career? Of course, learning foreign language is going to help Burke's students on the exit
exam. They will really meet AYP then! . Yes, he does have a vested interest, but unless he becomes the principal there, changes will not be in his power solely.

What you should say is that once he gains administrative experience at
Buist, perhaps, returning to Burke as their principal
could potentially change the school's climate and learning environment. By the way,
it's not like Buist STOLE him from Burke, he applied for the position.

Anonymous said...

You missed the whole point. We're hoping that he'll become the next principal at Buist. And sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

You misread the author too.

Anonymous said...

Who is this young man? Is he one of Sallie's boy?

Anonymous said...

Who is this young man to whom we are referring? Is he one of Sallie's boy?

Anonymous said...

The new AP at Buist is not at issue. The time and manner it took the superintendent to set into motion the actions needed to fill the vacancy should be an issue. The person finally appointed (after the position was vacant for more than a year) is highly qualified and incidentally will be the only minority member of the faculty at Buist. Buist's gain is Burke's loss.

Under the directions of this Superintendent, vacancies at Burke have been filled far less carefully, if at all. There is no real opportunity for professional advancement among the faculty and staff at CCSD. The record is clear. The determination for who advances and who does not rests almost exclusively with the Superintendent.

You need only to look at how she is conducting the selection of a half time Principal and two APs at Fraser and Sanders-Clyde. Again look at all the temporary Principals and APs still unsure of their jobs at other schools all because the county board said they issued a policy in 2005 that gave her total control over "temporary" and "interim" matter how long interim was.

The county school board is even now considering giving the Superintendent the sole power to reassign teachers at will. (Did someone say it's time for a teachers union, or is it already too late?) So much for a stable and consistant faculty remaining at any school or a Prinicipal feeling too comfortable after having carefully assembling a high quality faculty.

Many of these people were good teachers for years but took the appointments to fill administrative vacancies as an opportunity to advance professionally, only to discover they had become "temporary" employees at greatly reduced saleries and in some cases have found themselves officially "unemployed" at the end of a school year. They are also in a vulnerable position if they are simply found to be suspect or not exactly totally on board as a member of the Superintendent's team. It's no wonder why some teachers have given up on professional advancement altogether in Charleston County after they see what the toll has been to the careers of some. Incompetence and total submission to the Superintendent's game on the other hand is subject to much reward.

Buist and its staff have been largely operating in a different universe and appear to have been largely immune to the Superintendent's bigger game. Buist is staffed differently and is not required to operate within the student-teacher ratios required by the Superintendent and the county school board at all other schools. Sure Buist is special, but not so special so as to operate beyond any written rules or guidelines. Just look at Buist's full compliment of 4 foreign language teachers and the fact that no other school in Dist. 20, not even the high school which is more than twice the size of Buist, has foreign language program at all, or in the case of the high school, even one half as large. This is only an example of the many inequities that schools suffer beyond the much lauded gates at Buist.

Get with the program. This is about more than professional advancement. It's about the lack of a stable working and learning enviroment in Charleston County and most definately in Dist. 20 that show no signs of improvement or change.

Anonymous said...

I've listened to Constituent board member Pam Kusmider speak at board meetings many times. You are definitely referring to the wrong author. Anyone who has ever heard her speak, knows that.
Note the spelling of her name as well - its K-U-S-M-I-D-E-R. I just looked her up in the phone book...give her a call. She's a fighter for equal education on the peninsula. I also heard she's a former teacher of Baptist Hill High School and former substitute teacher of many of our downtown schools, including Burke.