Sunday, March 25, 2007

Let's Hear It for Fraser

Rumblings over the dual-principalship controversy concerning Fraser Elementary School continue as CCSD's "poor stepchild" treatment of District 20 students rolls on.

In January 2007 Fraser's principal, Jeanette Whaley, was moved to McClellanville Middle School, and Ruth Cohen, formerly of Lambs Elementary and most recently (it appears) an administrator with the Accelerated Schools Project at the College of Charleston, was appointed interim.

At the time Maria Goodloe-Johnson said that Fraser was a "chronically low-performing school," a reason that necessitated removing Ms. Whaley in the middle of the school year.

Hmm. Why do I think that wasn't the ONLY reason, or even the most pertinent one? Maybe because I have come to distrust any reason given by the Superintendent, at least in regard to District 20?

Maybe because, if the principal were THAT bad, why give her a job at another school at all? Buy out her contract, or let her twiddle her thumbs for the rest of the year "on leave."

Somehow I doubt that Fraser's ongoing poor performance can be laid at the door of Ms. Whaley. CCSD's willingness to transfer her to another school speaks volumes. Goodloe-Johnson had to look like she was doing SOMETHING.

Now the "something" is to give the school HALF a principal. Can you imagine the uproar if that happened to Mt. Pleasant Academy? I don't blame MiShawna Moore for agreeing to the job. She undoubtedly wants what's best for students, but she also knows which side her bread is buttered on. Can it be that in all of CCSD only one educator exists who can turn Fraser around? I don't believe it.

Since my discovery last summer that Burke Middle/High School is 100% African-American [yes, I know, I naively assumed that desegregated schools meant desegregated schools--silly me], I've stopped taking anything for granted in regard to downtown schools.

So tell me--
  1. How long had Jeannette Whaley been principal at Fraser?
  2. How effective was she as principal?
  3. Why was Ruth Cohen named as interim?
  4. A Fraser parent was quoted as saying last week that "one of her daughters has had four teachers in the past month." What's going on?
  5. How old is the school building, and what condition is it in?
  6. What has CCSD tried to do to help Fraser improve in the past 10 years?
  7. Who is willing to speak up for schools like Fraser to see that they get treated fairly vis a vis schools OUTSIDE of District 20?
  8. Why has enrollment dropped from a high of 612 in 1992 to a low of 294 in 2005?
  9. Are any out-of-district 20-students enrolled at Fraser?

Maybe the Post and Courier is not interested in the answers to these questions. It always seems to report the facts fed to it by CCSD, solicit one or two comments, then drop the subject.

Let's not drop the subject.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, you have asked some excellent questions and, once again, I'm impressed by your insight. You're a smart woman.
Jeanette Whaley was Principal of Fraser for 7 years. Under her administration they improved to an Average rating and a Good rating. Under her administration, Fraser had a 3 year grant called Project Artistic in which they offered Suzuki violin, Robert Ivey dance classes, etc...Under her administration they requested "magnet status" to continue these programs after the grant expired.
Let's see...now Sanders-Clyde is being rebuilt. The schools WILL merge despite Dr. G-J stating there is NO discussion of this.
Are you starting to get it???

Anonymous said...

Let me also offer a little insight...the ERT that called for state takeover in Allendale passed Fraser.
Fast forward...now its 2006, a new rookie ERT perhaps? Even the Chairman has never done an ERT? Oh, I don't know...and POOF the Principal is gone. Whew! That was a close one. We don't want to lose Ms. Moore. She's one of "us." She understands that sometimes keys need to go "missing."
I'm so glad we have a reason to "get rid" of that "other" principal who didn't play by our rules.
What? Did you say she can refute the ERT report because its just preliminary? SHHHHH...get her out of here fast. But, CCSD ALWAYS refutes. Not this time...Get her out!!!

Anonymous said...

Let's see...are you implying the state was "in" on this? Surely not. We all know Mayor Riley's connections to the false addresses. And we're learning of the Governor's brother's relation to the false addresses at Buist, but surely the State Dept. is immuned from the politics, right?

Anonymous said...

Fraser! Finally something I can sink my teeth into. Sorry District 20 but Buist will never be fair to you and never has been. It's going downhill quickly in the last 5 years anyway.....whose tenure does that correspond with? Buist's biggest strenth is in getting children ready for the PACT.

I'm very interested in this subject of Fraser. Where is the NAACP on this? This wouldn't happen to two suburban schools and everyone knows it. Weren't the two schools in close proximity but seperated by the old Cooper River bridge for decades? Aren't we dealing with a very old rivalry between the schools? Did MGJ bother to find this out? Does Jerry Adams understand this?

Anonymous said...

Where is Toya Hampton Green? Has she been to any of the Fraser parent meetings? Has she even spoken with one Fraser parent? If she is so busy with her law career (or getting her child ready for admission to Buist) maybe she shouldn't be on the school board. Toya you have constituents. Even Dr. Maria Goodloe herself met with the parents of Fraser. She wasn't the one they elected. You had plenty of time for the East Side when you were running for office. Toya you are a typical politician but most politicians are smart enough not to completely disappear.

Anonymous said...

I might add that Toya Greene has the only seat for District 20. Mount Pleasant has Ravenel and Myers. North Charleston has Nancy Cook, Ray Toler and Hillary Douglas. West Ashley has Ruth Jordan, David Engleman and Brian Moody. Why the hell does downtown Charleston have only one person? We have all failing schools. The school population will continue to drop. Does that mean we will even lose part time Toya?

When the political machine (Riley and MGJ and Gregg Meyers) asked THG to run what did they ask of her? What did they promise Toya and her husband?

Toya's husband has close ties to Joe Riley who likes the school system to stay as is. Why does he not get involved? What is appealing about this for Joe Riley?

Anonymous said...

Poor, Black, Low Performing and Urban. No matter what MG-J might think, just 'cause they all look alike don't make 'em exactly the same. Fraser and Sanders-Clyde are very different schools with a very different demographic make up. The bridge that separated the two communities was symbolic of a much deeper rift. Just because the bridge that divided the two communities is gone doesn't mean the differences went away, too. S-C is almost exclusively serving public housing and homeless shelter residents. Fraser has long been identified with the Eastside, but as a standard urban school with a diverse student population. Currently about 18% of Fraser is from out of Dist. 20. As for merging these two schools, if CCSD is shooting for that, then they don't give a rip about why or how S-C program has appeared to succeed by serving a very demographically similar student population. Adding Fraser (or any other standard school population) would undermine its ability to address its student's unique needs. But it's really not about the students, it's about MG-J's report card. And of course it's about the real estate. Fraser is located on Columbus Street at Hampstead Mall across from Trident Tech's campus and adjacent to the Tobacco Factory which recently sold for a pretty penny. As always when it involves a downtown school, it's about the real estate.

Anonymous said...

Babbie: Answer to question #7

The child may have had that many teachers. It is not uncommon in District 20 for a child to have a series of substitute teachers for the entire year. The sub might be in a class all year or they might have a different sub every few days. Yes, you're right. It wouldn't happen at Mt. Pleasant Academy and you won't read about it in the Post and Courier.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of real estate downtown, an upscale golf resort is being built across from the former Sanders Clyde building. Does anyone really think the golf resort wants a Title 1 school or public housing to remain across the street? Real estate is king in Charleston, remember? Isn't Mrs. Green a real estate attorney?

Anonymous said...

When Sanders Clyde and Fraser are merged will they be a "super school" like Burke? That is the trend. We should expect a glistening state of the art building just like Burke. Just like Burke there will be no attention paid to staff, curriculum and the school still won't have enough points for all of the programs Buist and most schools outside of District 20 take for granted. This is because it will still be 100% black just like all other downtown schools. Buist doesn't count as a downtown school because we know how few downtown (especially black) downtown children attend that school). Doesn't Dr. Johnson have the political courage to admit to these parents that their schools will be one?

Anonymous said...

The folks from the east side and the housing projects live in close enough proximity for a single school to serve both populations.
Building one school with one set of administrators makes more sense because it saves money on that labor.(one principal) In theory, it would allow more money for programs and special equipment. hey Fraser/S-C Why not just deal with this head on and negotiate with CCSD for the best school money can buy and make demands like the Mt. Pleasant schools.
I see an opportunity here.

Anonymous said...

Do you really think you can negotiate with these people? What are you smoking? They have their own agendas and negotiation isn't on their radar.

To MG-J and her employers, the majority who run the board, all downtown blacks are alike. They're expendable. Downtown Whites with and interest in public schools are an aboration. Both need to be isolated and marginalized. The powers that be have determined that a couple of new super schools can be built and the rest can be sold off to some politically friendly developers. If local and neighborhood public school interests can't be silenced then at least they can be ignored. Despite preferences granted to schools like Mt.Pleasant Academy, even they have been short changed.

What's the real mission of CCSD under its present leadership? Is it to operate successful public schools for all or is it to manipulate the half billion dollars a year in public education dollars to benefit other interests, including graft from within?

You'd think that Brian Moody as a CPA would have a better handle on this, but he doesn't.

The P&C covers the rise and fall of real estate and tourism dollars but doesn't seem interested in what will turn the economy of this region for the next generation. They should be following this far more closely than just out of date school buses. Or is that the P&C's one stab at investigative journalism for the year?

Anonymous said...

The job of principal for any school is to be posted. Candidates are to be interviewed and like it or not Constituent boards are to have a say in this process. MGJ might not like the process but she still has to follow it until it is changed.

THG is an attorney. She should know enough to not support the WAY MGJ has done this even if she likes the idea. THG do you also support the way MGJ spoke to the parents of Fraser? I guess it was just easier for you to not show up at all.

Anonymous said...

Maria and Toya are "from away" in ways that are quite detrimental to good working relationships with the public and CCSD employees. Have respect for the East Side. We supported you Maria when no one else did. We knew that your were unfairly criticized for your out of wed lock pregnancy. Toya, the East Side supported you when you ran for office like you were one of our own that we had known for years even though you are relatively new in town and we knew your husband was a big wig from Porter.. We gave both of you the benefit of the doubt. Give us a little respect on the East Side. The election was just a few months ago. Did you forget us already?

Anonymous said...

Just as it has been pointed out. CCSD has an obligation to properly advertise and fill administrative positions. Interim appointments circumvent the process and smack of cronyism. There have been some outstanding and highly qualified candidates for administrative positions among the many vacancies advertised by CCSD, including the assitant principal position at Buist. Several of these individuals had not only sufficient experience to be named as a principal, but they had experience in turning around low performing schools. Why haven't these candidates been contacted to be considered for the Fraser principalship? Why are critical leadership positions like this in Dist. 20 always put off by CCSD until so late in the hiring cycle? March is too late. How widely is it known that two midlevel, but critically important, administrative positions at Burke have been left dangling as "interim" appointments. This is a slap in the face for both highly qualified holders of those positions (to not be hired as permanent/full time) who would easily gain support for their being hired if the positions were properly advertised and interviews scheduled by CCSD. It is also an insult to Burke to show that CCSD considers everything at Burke to be "interim". Where's CCSD's long term commitment to Burke's success? Earl Choice has been sitting on these positions for well over a year.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Choice's job description is to give cover to county administrators, specifically to the Ave Maria. He only gives lip service to downtown parents. He's totally ineffective as an advocate for student and parent needs in Dist. 20, and doesn't appear to care either.

Can you say 'Step-And-Fetch-It'? He's an embarasement who has no loyalty to Dist. 20 or downtown schools at all. Earl Choice should be ashamed to have so readily taken a job that is probably beyond his capabilities. It would appear he was given the Assoc. Superintendent's position in Dist. 20 BECAUSE he would do just what he was told and nothing more. He's doing real damage to the education of kids downtown, including a whole lot of African-American kids.

These issues ARE about race; the advancement of a few (not even the best qualified) at the expense of the many. It is also about a few questionably qualified people holding on to their jobs despite their incompetence. It's about a system that uses these self serving people to hold down the dreams and aspirations of thousands of inner city public school students and hundreds of dedicated teachers in potentially great urban schools.

Earl Choice is nothing more than a 'straw boss' on CCSD's educational plantation. He has no power, but he also has no courage.

memminger45 said...

CCSD is getting away with a shell game downtown. It should be required to take a stand and fix each school where it is. God knows the taxpayers of downtown Charleston have certainly supplied enough money to do this right the first time.

Anonymous said...

Look at CCSD's per pupil spending for Fraser and compare it to other schools with deep state and federal support for schools like it.

CCSD's financial administrators have taken Fraser's after school program grant money and used it in place of GOF and Title One funds it originally earmarked for Fraser. They later subtracted funds from Fraser's budget and spent it elsewhere in CCSD's vast administrative wasteland. If some think combining Sanders Clyde and Wilmot Fraser will save money, it may only save CCSD from getting caught illegally moving resources away from Fraser, and probably a lot of other schools, this past year.

These should have been the resources used to fully fund a stable faculty and to pick up the cost on the enrichment programs that Fraser initiated when it wasn't a failing school only a couple of years ago.

What about the special emphasis programs called for at Fraser in the Reconfiguration Plan for District 20 schools?

Anonymous said...

Wilmot Fraser Elem. School (also known as the Columbus Street School) was built in the 1950 and, as the building goes, is about the same quality as Memminger which dates from the same decade. Memminger and its duplicate, Sanders-Clyde, were open to more light. Fraser appears to lack an abundance of natural light in its interior, but that may also be a function of the way it has been maintained in recent years. It does not have a gym as was the case with Courtenay (also built in the 1950's). A double-wide modular building in the rear serves as a PE facility but is grossly insufficient. The adjacent Hampstead park is not safe because of illegal activity long associated with it. The city does not maintain any type of duel use with the downtown public schools like Fraser with the nearby public parks and recreation faciliities. What a waste! The school is centrally located for the neighborhood and has an advantage of being within walking distance of the Chas. Museum and the main County Library without having to cross a major thoroughfare. If you allow one such crossing then you connect this school to the Aquarium, major museums, regional businesses and colleges. It's very pedestian friendly for the students provided they come from the immediate area. No paved on-site parking exists for teachers and staff, only a pothole filled dirt lot in the rear which doubles as a playground and cafeteria delivery area. Again, this is another downtown example of a potentially good school building and campus that have been poorly maintained by CCSD.

Anonymous said...

I hope that many Fraser parents come out Wednesday night for the District 20 Constituent Board meeting because it is going to be at Fraser! I know many Fraser parents now know about this blog and I hope you guys keep posting!It won't make any difference to the school board policy but it's a great way to share information and maybe blow off steam during this very stressful time for Fraser. What will the CCSD choose for a new name? Fraser Clyde School? Sanders Fraser? Fraser Sanders Progressive Academy? Anything would be better than the name Burke Middle High.

Anonymous said...

CCSD leaders aren't being honest with anyone in Dist. 20. If you want to see how they handled the Buist cheating scam, check out the post just entered under "Spotlight: Responses". It's another example of how Goodloe-Johnson deals with "inconvenient truths" on her watch. Fraser, Sanders-Clyde, Burke, Rivers, Charleston Progressive, Memminger, you name it, all are being handled no differently than the way they handled the Buist admissions cheating scandal that descriminates against Dist. 20. Their response to everything is "We have reviewed the information and find the Dist. 20 claims to be 'unsubstantiated'".

Anonymous said...

Where's District 20's token representative on the county board. It's hard not to notice Ms. Green's silence. Was that the intent of those who supported her campaign in the first place? Is she really comfortable with being seen as a token? Downtown's public schools and nearly five thousand school aged children need more than just token representation on the county school board.

Anonymous said...

Why was Ms. Whaley not given an opportunity to respond to the ERT report until 3 weeks after the deadline? Is this what is meant by manipulation from the state? Ms. Whaley was prepared to raise objections in defense of the efforts at Fraser. CCSD always objects, but for some strange and unexplained reason, they didn't want Ms. Whaley to object to this report.

Was her sudden mid-year transfer to McClellanville just a quick and convenient way of heading off a fifth school among others in CCSD from being brought up for state review? Or was it because they have suddenly considered a new alternative to CCSD's plan to further close and consolidate downtown schools? To what ends will CCSD go to quiet downtown detractors?

Ms. Whaley was such a loyal supporter of the superintendent's administration, too. Looks like the loyalty wasn't returned in kind. I'll bet the support for Ms. Moore as a part-time principal will be just as fleeting if the results don't make 75 Calhoun look good. Maybe they can loose the keys for three days at Fraser, too? But will tricks and hyjinks like that really improve the education of the kids at Fraser or just the way the administration report card looks?

Anonymous said...

Here are the facts. Two assitant principals and a shared principal will be more costly than one qualified principal at each of these two schools. Interim appointments are Goodloe-Johnson's way of circumventing board approval and more importantly her way of granting favors to subservient supporters (i.e. sycophants). No elementary school or combined elementary and middle school located downtown has an assistant principal, except Buist, yet all other downtown schools currently have more students than Sanders/Clyde or Fraser. Chas. Progressive with nearly 400 students K-8 has been begging for an AP for years.

Though highly qualified and experienced applicants are available for both the Fraser Principal position and any AP openings that might be created, the Superintendent will appoint, as with the case of the current interim principal at Fraser, unqualified and (or) inexperienced candidates to fill the positions as assitant principals at Sanders/Clyde and Fraser. It's the way Goodloe-Johnson ensures absolute loyalty among her subordinates. Just look at Mr. Choice for a good example of this.

Anonymous said...

The merger of Fraser and Sanders/Clyde will not be discussed until it is all but a forgone conclusion.

Maria has already said many times concerning other issues, despite plans for public input, she's already made the decision. She just hasn't decided to tell us yet.

Anonymous said...

Will someone from the Broad Institute, which trained and recommended G-J for this position, please either take credit for this style of leadership or disavow it altogether.

Anonymous said...

Toya where are you? Who is looking out for the children downtown. Even if your mentors tell you that we are hopeless don't believe them. Do you want to be like Gregg Meyers and spend ten years on the school board? Do you want the schools downtown to stay segregated? Toya surely you don't want that. Have you asked any of your mentors what they have done to desegregate schools? Buist doesn't count and you know it.

Anonymous said...

Toya, can you look us in the face and tell us that nobody on the board ever talked about closing Fraser?

Anonymous said...

If the schools downtown weren't "failing" it would be harder to sell off the real estate. Imagine the high end condo complex you could have at Fraser or Mitchell....

Anonymous said...

By the way, what happened to the Title One funds, the After School Grant and the core GOF funds that Fraser was supposed to receive? How does what they actually received compare to what they are entitled to get and what comparable schools get with similar or even different demographics? Mr. Moody, this sounds like something you should be curious about. The word on the street is that someone in CCSD's financial department has been short changing Fraser for years. If not, then account for the spending at Fraser since its report card went into decline.

Anonymous said...

... or the hotel that could be built where Buist is. Oops, I forgot, it has to be a failing school or vacant building first before you can sell the real estate.

Anonymous said...

A big thanks to all the people that came to Fraser tonight. If we stand together we can stop this. Thanks to the Constituent Board for listening when CCSD never does.

Anonymous said...

Did you Know they offer Mrs. Whaley the principal job at school they sent her too?

You Fraser to succeed:

MG-J because she can pull the principal in the middle of the year.

Earl Choice sneaks an inexperience teacher specialist as interim principal of a failing school. Then he decides the experience interim principal should be a teacher specialist at Burke Middle.

MG-J decides Fraser need to share a principal. Why? Because she can.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't anyone asking what Mr. Choice's credentials are to be a superintentent? We all know he's highly qualified in being a "yes man" for Dr. G-J. But other than that??
Better yet, what are Annette Gadsden's credentials to replace a 7yr. Principal at Fraser? She's never been a principal, has she? Why did we replace Ms. Whaley in the middle of the school year with a person who had NO administrative experience? This is a joke, right?
Our kids and parents at Fraser don't think its a joke...a sad joke...maybe...but there's no humor here.
This reeks of a civil rights complaint. Has anyone filed one? God, I hope so. If not, get started. We need D.C. to help us down here.

Anonymous said...

No, Annette Gadsden has no experience and it shows.This help a buddy out system has to stop. Why do CCSD,Earl Choice, and MG-J do things like this at Fraser? They think no one cares. How do we hold these people accountable? Did the ERT report say Mrs. Whaley had to leave immediately?

Don't be fooled by their brown faces. Friend or foe? I think foe.

Anonymous said...

Where is the local NAACP when neighborhood schools are being treated this poorly? These schools primarily serve African-American children. Aren't these kids worth more than the price of lunch with MG-J? I like what one Fraser parent asked last Wednesday night. "WHERE DO YOU PEOPLE WHO MAKE THESE DECISIONS SEND YOUR CHILDREN TO SCHOOL?" Well, what about it? Toya Green? Dot Scott? Joe Darby? Nancy Cook? Joe Riley? And all the others who have no real knowledge of downtown schools or their needs. Or in the case of Dot Scott, what's worth more, a power lunch and photo-op with the superintendent or the educational future of a dwindling number of black kids in an all black school who have been written off anyway? Dot chose lunch. What's on your priority list?