Friday, March 16, 2007

Spotlight: Responses

As I indicated at the beginning of this conversation, I am a stranger to the Buist controversy, knowing only what I have read and seen in the media or, at this point, read in comments on my blog. However, many of the commenters on my previous post have more information, opinions, charges, and rumors to share. Perhaps others can shed some light on the following issues, charges, and (yes!) even a threat. LIGHT is definitely what is needed! Please jump in, for it's clear that Jerry Adams has decided to stay out of the stream of answers for now, probably to keep his job.

These are listed in order of appearance:


  1. "The most important criteria for Buist admission are the profession of the parents, and the ability for the parents to raise funds for the [Buist] foundation." and the related comment from a later poster: "The Buist foundation donations should be public knowledge."
  2. "Testing is an easier way to conceal preferential choice of students by the Administration." and "The way it is achieved is by non-uniform testing proctors." and "You can be sure that the proctors knew which children were the offspring of the well known and well connected. and "The principal's room passed 100%."
  3. "[When students are dismissed from Buist for an average below 85], are the parents informed of their appeal rights? Or are some parents not informed intentionally? What part has race [...] played in how student dismissals for academic reasons have been handled?"
  4. "The publisher [of the YCAT, apparently the test used at Buist] states that the test is not designed to be used as the sole criteria for assessing a student and the test results should not be used as a single determining factor for directing where a child is placed in school."
  5. "The YCAT does not measure intelligence; it measures the chance that a child is at risk to have problems in school. [...] It identifies children that will need extra help."
  6. [mine] "Why is Buist using an ACHIEVEMENT test? [...] This test sets up the 'winners' to be children whose parents can buy enrichment programs and/or tutors over those with more native ability. Therefore, it favors the rich."
  7. "People get a teacher to buy the YCAT on line and pass it around to each other. They then take turns testing the children of their friends. [...] Some Buist parents [...] hire teachers who have given the YCAT to prep their four and five year olds."
  8. In regard to Dist. 20 as a"dumping ground": "Of the 3100 students still found in downtown schools, more than 800 (25-30%) are from outside the district." and "Over 30% of Memminger's students live outside of Dist. 20 while nearly 2/3 of its students don't even live in its attendance zone of mostly south of Calhoun."
  9. "Charleston Progressive (a magnet school?) was ordered to take more than 50 transfers from troubled Brentwood Middle under NCLS [NCLB?]. (Buist has taken no students under NCLB.)" and "How many children from Dist. 20 were allowed to transfer to Sullivan's Island ES under NCLB? [...] Sullivan's Island is now purging their student body of 'illegal' transfers from Dist. 20 [from] low performing [schools]." and "Magnet schools are not immune to [NCLB]. [...] Irregardless of what CCSD chooses to say, Buist is not immune to it." and "Magnet schools are not supposed to let a teacher's child in automatically or they risk losing a certain type of funding."
  10. "Do you know the overlap that [the story about the No New Town Taskforce's anti-incorporation campaign last summer] had with the Buist fake address story? [...] Most of the money behind the campaign came from a handful of real estate interests that [...] have contracts or pending contracts with Charleston."

And from the other side of the issue:

  1. "If keeping Buist Academy for Advanced Studies means stocking it with a group of wealthy and connected people then so be it."
  2. "So what if [Gregg Meyers and Toya Hampton Green] get a little preferential treatment in the lottery or admissions process. [...] A very few children are ever displaced because of this."
  3. "The proctors are human! Of course they might be a little star struck by the child of a mover and shaker."
  4. "Downtown children are usually either unqualified or their parents are too stuck up to put them in a public school like Buist."
  5. "It's only right that Gregg and Robert New should have had five kids each go through Buist. Maybe they owned rental property downtown or had in-laws that lived downtown."
  6. "In my day these downtown people would have minded their own business and appreciated public servants like Gregg Meyers."
  7. "This 'primary residence' business isn't written anywhere on Buist forms."
  8. "The Title 1 list idea for Buist is nonsense. Most of those people don't pay taxes at all."
  9. "We should move our [sic] school to Mt. Pleasant anyway so we all won't have to commute over the bridge. Really, if it's made up of children mostly from Mt. Pleasant then why is it downtown?
  10. "[Sallie Ballard] had a meeting just this week to address the downtown whiners. Many of us think that there shouldn't even be a downtown list. Watch out! You're right, we are well connected.
  11. "If that downtown mob gets their way it will destroy Buist Academy as we know it. I would put my daughter in Ashley Hall if it became more of a district school."

Isn't there enough smoke here for the Post and Courier to do some investigative reporting?


23 comments:

alum45 said...

Where is the P&C? They appear to be interested in school buses. They investigated Porter-Gaud a few years ago. They found cops with questionable credentials worthy of answers. But not this? What about why our schools have failed downtown kids so badly? What has the impact of poor schools and limited choices been on the gentrification (and aging) of downtown's demographics? Where is downtown's tax base being spent? What will the long term price be for those in charge having ignored these issues? What is it already costing us individually and as a region? Is the P&C part of the problem?

Babbie said...

Whether the P&C is part of the problem is what I'm trying to figure out. Do the editors of the P&C see its role in the community as a booster for tourism and real estate or as a source of vital information for community residents?

Anonymous said...

babbie:
The Buist inner circle is circling their wagons. Perhaps someone should fill you in on their version of the "final solution" for Dist. 20 and its access to Buist which is now circulating. If this isn't a ton of gasoline I don't know what is.

Anonymous said...

Buist Parents
>>
>> This evening, March 13, the Buist Academy School Improvement Council
>> met to
>> discuss the Buist Academy Task Force which the Charleston County School
>> District
>> Board recently appointed. The Task Force was appointed by Nancy Cook,
>> Board
>> Chair, to address the admissions process at Buist. The Task Force
>> includes
>> three County School Board members, at least two members of the District
>> 20
>> Constituent Board, and an administrator from Memminger Elementary School,
>> among
>> others. Sallie Ballard, the principal at Buist, and Susan Cale, from
>> Buist PTA,
>> are also members of the Task Force.
>>
>> Of late, most of the complaints about Buist's admissions policy have
>> been made
>> by the District 20 Constituent Board and parents of children who live in
>> District 20. The District 20 Constitutent Board has already proposed
>> several
>> changes to the admissions policy. The most significant change would give
>> "priority... to District 20 residents, first. Remaining seats will be
>> given to
>> siblings of current Buist students." A copy of the letter outlining the
>> proposals is attached to this e-mail.
>>
>> Only the County Board has the power to change the admissions policy.
>> Nonetheless, it is clear that the Board will consider the recommendations
>> made -
>> if any - by the Task Force. As a result, it is imperative that the Task
>> Force,
>> and ultimately the Board, hear from parents and friends who are
>> interested in
>> Buist other than the District 20 Board, and those who have its ear.
>>
>> The next meeting of the Task Force is March 20, at 5:15 at the
>> Charleston
>> County School District office. The meeting is currently scheduled for
>> the
>> Superintendent's conference room, but if enough parents attend, the
>> meeting will
>> likely be moved.
>>
>> Those of us who do not want to see more preference given to students
>> who live
>> in District 20 need to attend the next meeting of the Task Force, and
>> indeed,
>> all of its remaining meetings. We also need to contact County School
>> Board
>> members, and attend their meetings as well. (Again, only the County
>> Board has
>> the power to make changes to the admissions policy, though it will likely
>> give
>> weight to the Task Force's recommendations.) Most importantly, we need
>> to offer
>> alternative proposals for the Board to consider. Here are two:
>>
>> 1. The Charleston County School Board should abolish the current
>> Buist
>> admissions policy in its entirety. In its place, the Board should make
>> Buist a
>> "purely" county-wide magnet school by adopting an admissions policy
>> similar to
>> that of the Academic Magnet School: school (or county) officials should
>> test all
>> incoming kindergarden-age children who apply, regardless of where they
>> live in
>> the county, and admit the forty (40) children who achieve the highest
>> scores on
>> the test.
>>
>> 2. The Charleston County School Board should modify the current
>> Buist
>> admissions policy by abolishing the four separate lists. Instead, the
>> first
>> forty (40) students on one randomly generated list of applicants to Buist
>> should
>> be admitted, provided they achieve a seventy-five (75%) score on the
>> diagnostic
>> test.
>>
>> The easiest suggestion, of course, is to simply continue the current
>> admissions policy. The current policy gives great preference to District
>> 20
>> residents, though, and the special consideration is questionable, at very
>> best.
>> At worst, it is fundamentally unfair. Ten spots are reserved for
>> students from
>> District 20, but those students are also eligible for admission on the
>> county-wide and low-performing schools list, at a minimum. District 20
>> students
>> with siblings at Buist are eligible for admission on the sibling list as
>> well.
>> Thus, District 20 students compete for at least thirty of the forty spots
>> available, and are guaranteed at least ten of the spots available in each
>> kindergarten class. Many - if not most - residents of the rest of
>> Charleston
>> County are only eligible for consideration for one of the ten county-wide
>> spots.
>> (By my calculations, this year, the thirty-one (31) District 20 students
>> who
>> applied had bette r than a fifty (50%) per cent chance of being in the
>> top 10 of
>> at least one of the lists. A student from an "average" school in any
>> other
>> district, on the other hand, had less than a five (5%) per cent chance.)
>>
>> District 20 board members and parents have secured the current District
>> 20-preference, 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. However, only students in District 20 receive preference for
>> admission based solely on the district in which they live.
>>
>> By contrast, under either of the proposals outlined above, all
>> residents of
>> Charleston County would have an equal opportunity to gain admission.
>> Both
>> proposals also eliminate the need for address verification, both for
>> incoming
>> and returning students.
>>
>> In short, if the County Board were to adopt either of these proposals,
>> it
>> would answer at least four (4) of the complaints outlined by the District
>> 20
>> Board. If it adopts Proposal #1, it would address five (5) of the six
>> (6)
>> complaints. If the County adopts either proposal, though, it would also
>> address
>> the most significant complaint of parents and students in the seven (7)
>> other
>> constituent districts throughout the county.
>>
>> Of course, the best solution for all students in the County is to
>> replicate
>> the success enjoyed by Buist at other schools, in every other constituent
>> district. That was the plan twenty-three (23) years ago, though, when
>> Buist was
>> started. Buist succeeds in 2007 because of the dedicated work of the
>> teachers
>> and administrators, and also because of the constant and unwavering
>> involvement
>> of the parents. As mentioned today, the parents, through the Buist
>> Foundation,
>> are currently purchasing "smartboards" for every classroom. They should
>> be in
>> place by the end of this school year. This follows years of fund-raising
>> which
>> replaced the windows in, and also made innumerable other improvements to,
>> 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 last month secured accreditation
>> from the
>> International Baccalaureate program. Excellence, in other words, can not
>> be
>> achieved overnight.
>>
>>
>>
>> Please pass this e-mail on to other parents at Buist. Some suggested
>> this
>> evening that a petition should be drafted, to be presented to the Task
>> Force,
>> and eventually the County School Board. Feel free to cut and paste
>> either
>> proposal above - or both.
>>
>> I am sending this from my home e-mail, which is
>> mbrandenburg60@bellsouth.net.
>> You can reach me at home at (blank). Either Leigh or I, or both, will
>> attend
>> the Task Force meeting next week. I also plan to start contacting County
>> School
>> Board members. You can reach them at www.ccsdschools.com, where their
>> addresses, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers are listed.
>>
>> Mark
>
>
>

Anonymous said...

It's Mark Brandenburg's name that appears to be endorsing this letter.

Anonymous said...

Hey "Babbie," you should change your name to Babble.

You don't know anything. You just bark at other people when the truth is you're part of the problem.

Why don't you concentrate on fixing any shortcomings from within. Focus on your Wando High students, perhaps.

Come clean and tell everyone who you really are if you want to be part of the solution.

Anonymous said...

If Mr. Bradenburg really wrote that letter it looks like he didn't do much research. It's full of inaccuracies. Buist was a school for African American students not an office building for one thing. Isn't he an attorney for the Citadel?

Also leave Babbie alone. I don't know who she is but at least the truth is getting out there somewhere.

Anonymous said...

To the "Anonymous" who posted at 11:22 am.
I find it impossible to believe that an adult actually wrote that message. What are you...twelve?
I pray it was a middle school child who snuck on her parent's computer. And we wonder who raises kids who threaten teachers and fellow classmates in their journals.

Babbie said...

Don't worry about that idiot. I've asked before that "anonymous" go ahead and "out" me as a teacher at Wando. No response, of course! It's just another try to intimidate anyone who doesn't share his/her prejudices.

Anonymous said...

This goes to the Buist crowd who must think this is all about them. This should also go to the editiors of the P&C who have missed more than one opportunity to educate the community. Some of these factions are always saying that the "Downtown Mob" and the "Dist. 20 Whiners" are just not "on the bus" with CCSD. Even the County School Board Chairman Nancy Cook is reported to have said "Those Dist. 20 people will never be satisfied so why bother!" Those who support the status quo for CCSD (and Buist) say the downtown crowd is simply opposing CCSD's "positive ideas" without presenting any alternatives of their own. How about we list some of downtown's ideas already put forward and ask if the "Buist bunch" would be willing to help advance some of them. Or is this still just about them and protecting their school from somesort of presumed invasion by aliens or lesser beings? Would it be possible that if educational opportunities began to open up for all children and residents of the peninsula, some of the issues surrounding Buist might just "go away"? Let's list the ideas coming from downtown parents, residents, educators and even constituent board members, if we must, that have all been ignored so far. CCSD's command central, the county school board, Buist's our-way-or-the-highway supporters, the Joe Darby/Dot Scott Trixology Center for Unified Black Opinion and, yes, even the Newsless Courier have consistantly avoided addressing some fairly inovative and not too difficult alternatives that have been presented from "outside the box" of 75 Calhoun. Downtown citizens have offered suggestions in addition to thier critism of the succession of failed CCSD policies for downtown schools. Let's see how many positive ideas have been floated and see if the Buist crowd would be willing to support any of them in order to get the rest of downtown off their back at Buist. Let the list begin.

Anonymous said...

I don't see why the media and the downtown crowd had such a field day with Buist addresses last year. People shouldn't be suddenly persecuted for something that other people got away with doing for many many years. Plus, there was no written policy about what being a downtown resident meant.

I also don't like the fact that the Buist directory was given to the school board as "evidence." I'm sure a lot of us didn't like reporters and god knows who else looking at our addresses and phone numbers. The Buist waiting list should only be the business of Janet Rose and Sallie Ballard. Nobody else needs to know what order the names are in. Sallie is a very busy woman doing a great job (look at the PACT scores) so why should she have to run around looking at primary residences on the Charleston County tax web page or visiting houses? That poor woman has enough on her plate.

She was drug through the mud over so many things she had no control over. Middle school kids are going to get into trouble-even Buist kids. The problem in the third floor bathrooms could have happened at any school. Look at what happened with Porter Gaud middle school kids a few years back.

Also, those sweet girls would have never really hurt those teachers or the little boy. Sallie was right to laugh it off. Writing in a notebook is harmless and should be considered free expression. They didn't mean for the teachers and the boy to know about what they wrote. It was intended for a limited audience just to blow off some steam. No body was physically harmed. Unfortunately society is full of a bunch of overly sensitive wimps these days. I'm glad that all the teachers that left last year are gone.

That's another thing, the staff changes at Buist brought a lot of good energy and new blood into the school. Sallie has done a fine job finally molding a staff that she can work with. I know that most of the staff thinks that the downtown complaints are invalid. They know they are lucky that there are fewer downtown children to teach these days. I know some of the teachers also want to get rid of the downtown list completely and moving Buist to Mt. Pleasant is a great idea.

Anonymous said...

The only thing I can agree with you on is moving Buist to Mt. Pleasant. It would certainly save the taxpayers on the peninsula a heck of alot of money in bus transportation. And take the crooked Principal and her teachers with her...especially that new "Academy Award winning" IB teacher! Sallie does have alot on her plate as she tries to ensure her spot in the Yacht Club. That has to be stressful for her...

Tara Lowry said...

I have been following your blog and actually kept my mouth shut until now. I can not believe the comments from the other side of the issue. Are you people serious that because you have more money than other people you are entitled to Buist. I am a middle class parent who paid personal taxes on a house and car, plus property tax on my small business. The majority of the people are not free and reduced lunch they are hardworking people some with money, some without and others just getting by like me. If you think that you are entitled to something special like Buist just because you think that you are movers and shakers you are very wrong. Movers and Shakers accomplish change and make a difference. You are not, I think you are simply pointing fingers and trying to save yourselves from embarrassment for lying and cheating to get your children in a school. What you have done is taken away spots at a school that could have educated the next great thinker that probably is not your child.
Our middle schools do not offer a foreign language, we are the only ones. Some schools are in such disrepair that parts of them are not fit for occupancy. The schools in Mount Pleasant have everything that any child could need to foster their excellent education. In fact almost all are rated excellent. Downtown's only excellent rated school is Buist. If you want it in Mount Pleasant then you should talk to Mr. Ravenal and Mr. Meyers. I am sure that they would be on your side. Let’s not forget that it is the money from downtown that built those schools in Mt. Pleasant.
Also don't forget that even though people come to the beaches on vacation they really come to visit the history and romance of downtown. These are the new taxpayers for the schools.
This year I made the decision not to move out of downtown. Why should I? So I decided to standby the District 20 Constituent Board to regain equality for these kids in this district. I have gone to the state to talk about the issues. I have stood with my neighbors from both sides of the cross town to fight for all of our kids. What have you done for equal education? What kind of example are you to your children? All the parents that I know off the Peninsula believe in what we are doing. I know some movers and shakers in Charleston that do not share your view? In fact I know none that share your views.
Wake up and smell the coffee this community is not going to stand by with this Buist issue or any other school issue in District 20. This is our community that is at risk of dying and our neighborhoods that are rapidly loosing families.
People say that Charleston is one of the most pleasant cities but you all are giving it a bad name.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Ms. Lowry-
You've evidently "struck a nerve". All is quiet...why isn't someone playing "devil's advocate" to your comments? Could it be because they're all true?
Ouch...that truth sure does hurt!

Anonymous said...

Here are some of the Buist address cheaters. The superintendent and the Buist principal both publicly stated they have reviewed the 2006 list and found no cheaters. They attempt to hide a great untruth. Each of these names were announced publicly during the 2006 Buist lottery. Each of their names appear in public tax records for Charleston County. Anyone can match public records to reveal who cheated and who didn't. You can do it on line and it takes about 2-3 minutes per name (and it's goes a lot quicker once you get the hang of it). Why Goodloe and Ballard didn't do this (or at least have it done for them) is still an unanswered question.

Cheater Number One: The Kefalos family claimed to live on Addlestone in Dist. 20 but in fact their legal residence is on Folly Beach.

Cheater Number Two: The Mauerhan family claimed to live on Church St. in Dist. 20 but in fact they live in Mt. Pleasant.

Cheater Number Three: The Hill family claimed to live on Bee St. in Dist. 20 but in fact their legal residence is in a gated community on Johns Island.

More to follow.

Anonymous said...

Which one is connected to Sanford and which family is connected to Riley?

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that all of those couples that Maria Goodloe said were divorcing all got back together. I'm so glad she respected their marital privacy and didn't require seperation agreements to explain why one parent was living in a low rent apartment or with the grandparents south of Broad.

Anonymous said...

Cheater Number Four: The Langsam family claimed to live on St. Margaret St in a failing school zone in Dist. 20 but in fact these in-laws of the governor's bother live on James Island.

Anonymous said...

Do they own anything downtown? Did they ever?

Anonymous said...

Cheaters 1, 2, and 4 didn't even own the property they claimed to be their downtown address. For all we know they drove by and just picked an address they liked. CCSD and Buist didn't even bother to check. At least the "coffe shop" cheater that Sallie likes to use as an example presumably owned or rented the address. These cheaters didn't even make the attempt to disguise their attempt to defraud the system. Both Sallie and Maria knew this but didn't care to follow through with the reports and evidence they were given.

Anonymous said...

Also, Sallie Ballard, Earl Choice and Maria Goodloe Johnson told the public that they would not explain how these wealthy people had an excuse for the modest homes they claimed to occupy downtown. MGJ cited student privacy and wasn't going to get involved in people's "marital problems". I think if nothing else a few people need to explain why the modest home downtown was never assessed by Charleston County at 4%. These people all continued to enjoy paying 4% (primary residence rate) on the expensive homes they owned at Folly Beach, James Island, Johns Island, etc. A married couple can only claim one primary residence according to Charleston County. The word is that one false address parent was so worried about the possibility of having to pay the 6% rate on his real primary residence he decided to voluntarily give up his child's slot at Buist. The funny thing is some of the replacement children had false addresses too.

Anonymous said...

So you are saying the family related to the governor with the kindergarten kid never even owned the property....was the family the owners of another property in Charleston County that was assessed at 4% as a primary residence? The people related to Sanford didn't even use the address of a relative? Did they rent the house on St. Margaret Street? Did anyone ever talk to the people that really did live at that house? Did the tv news go to that house too? I would like to see the tape if so.

Anonymous said...

I doubt he is into computers but has anyone shared this blog with Cousin Arthur? I think he would love the Riley stuff. Somebody needs to give him all the fake address and tax info too.