Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What Has Changed since 1997, Joe?

The Sunday Post and Courier's Faith and Values section included an interview with Mayors Summey, Riley, and Hallman called "Poverty Forum." Most of their answers appear to be what the reader might expect of such forums--many platitudes sprinkled with a few good ideas. What caught my eye, however, was Joe Riley's answer to the following question:

"Education is universally cited as the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. What more can local government do to support the goals of our public schools?"

After attempting to describe how family life has changed in the last 30-50 years (mothers working, violence, drugs, divorce), Riley makes the following assertion:

"There is a very important role for local government as a supporter of public education. As opposed to 10 years ago [italics mine], I am regularly communicating with [G-J, McGinley, Lewis, and/or CCSD principals]."

Not much has changed in the last 10 years in the areas you cited, Joe, so what has motivated your change in behavior? You now say that city government has its role to play in improving education. When did you discover this novel idea? I ask because, well, haven't you been mayor since 1975--that's 32 years? And how have the schools on the peninsula fared during that time?

According to the rather grandly named Riley Institute for Urban Affairs and Policy Studies at the College of Charleston,

"Mayor Riley has led a city government with an impressive record of innovation in public safety, housing, arts and culture, children's issues, the creation of park and other public spaces, and economic revitalization and development. The City of Charleston is recognized as one of the most livable and progressive cities in the United States."

Um. Except for its downtown schools? Aren't they a "children's issue"? Can the Institute (and Riley, presumably) claim Charleston as "livable and progressive" if its downtown schools are failing? Frankly, from my point of view, the "urban affair" of overriding importance should be successful urban schools. Try to imagine what a difference such a phenomenon would make in livability for urban residents.

Could it be that accountability for schools has come to the forefront? That schools that have always been failing are now labeled as failing for all to see?

More at issue are Riley's further comments about Fraser Elementary and the "circle" of community drawn around it. Are the entities he named--McNeil Law firm, Piggly Wiggly, Pratt-Thomas Gumb & Co., the School of Law--as part of the circle making a difference at Fraser? Different than, say, 10 years ago? If so, what is it? Is it hype or reality?


20 comments:

Anonymous said...

The mayor's support for Fraser is all "talk but no walk". It could be a metaphor for the city's fundamental lack of support for public education on the peninsula for decades. How can the city's recent accomplishments be sustained when the most critical piece of the city's basic infrastructure is in ruins? Will anyone dare challenge our city leaders on this issue?

Anonymous said...

Mayor Riley is a hypocrite. The end. He could care less about our downtown schools. In fact, it works better for his plan if they DO fail. It's easier to justify closing a failing school than closing a successful school.

Anonymous said...

District 20? I thought the schools were all black. If you are a whitey and you are talking about downtown schools then it is none of your business. Put your kid in the downtown system and then maybe someone will listen to your complaints. This also goes for you senior citizens without kids whining about what you call apartheid education.

It doesn't matter what kind of school a kid goes to. The achievers will be achievers no matter if they go to Buist or Fraser. I know plently of people that went from Burke to graduate school. Leave Buist and all the other downtown schools alone and worry about your own kind. If you worry about your tax dollars going to the schools across the rivers instead of staying downtown that's a whole other issue. Only people who have kids in downtown schools have a right to advocate for downtown schools.

Anonymous said...

So you mean Dot Scott and Joe Darby should mind there own business. I can agree with that.

Anonymous said...

You must be the same crack user from a previous post. As a white parent, I can't advocate for equal education unless my kids are in these failing schools? Silly me, I didn't know this was how the game was played. I'll go enroll my kids tomorrow, if it's that easy.
First of all, "plenty of kids" who went from Burke to GRADUATE school? I personally know kids who graduated from Burke who weren't prepared for the real world and filling out a job application, much less college or graduate school. What about them? Or are you one of those people who believes we can't educate ALL children? Some are going to fall through the cracks, right? So what if it happens to be over 50% of them? They're just poor black kids. I'll never accept failing schools. As a taxpayer, I'll definitely never accept the idea of putting my kids in a failing school. Our children deserve more than that. As long as we have your attitude, we'll never rise above mediocrity.

Anonymous said...

If the crazy downtown white people would just enroll their kids in the failing schools they would transform overnight into clones of Buist Academy. Toya Green can't put her kid in one of those schools because it wouldn't have the same effect. That's why she must stick with regular old Gregg Meyers Academy. The only school for a board member is Buist. Buist and the school board kids are so "lucky" to have each other. Seriously,I've read the posts and there are a lot of selfish ugly Buist supporters. How does Gregg Meyers justify financing a school for his own children like that? Sorry, it's not just for his five kids...it's for his buddies and Toya's kid.

Anonymous said...

What a slap in the face it is to the black community AND the teachers in our downtown schools for you people to think all we need are white kids in our schools to make them better.
Who thinks this way? Is it all about PACT scores for you? Your resumes, perhaps?
What we need is a leveled playing field. And as long as Buist sits in Dist. 20 with all of its extra faculty, while the rest of our schools can't even get full-time teachers, nothing will be fair in our schools. CCSD is at fault for our failing schools, not the lack of white kids. Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

Let's tie this back into Babbie's original assertion. Mayor Riley has been in the bully pulpit at city hall since 1975. In that time frame we say multiple school closings, the liquidation of some choice school property on the peninsula and the total abandonment of downtown public schools not just by whites, but also by most, if not all of what was once a substantial middle class black community. Those that remain in schools downtown are the ones that had no choice or alternative. Buist is an aboration that is more symbolic of what is wrong with public education today. Its purpose is to allow bureaucrats to manipulate the numbers to make them look good (or at least not likely to be sued) when the test scores are stacked and minority heads are counted.

Anonymous said...

What ever happen to... if you are not doing your job, you get FIRED. Can someone tell me, why can't we get rid of the CCSD members one by one for their incompotence?

Anonymous said...

And what does Mayor Riley have to do with all of this? He allowed it to happen on his watch. He encouraged it to happen as his friends bought the real estate after CCSD began closing down the city’s most famous and strategically placed schools, one at a time. He pushed for hiring Goodloe-Johnson for the face value, not for her experience or feel for the community, because she had none. He even maintained a direct line of communication with G-J from the outset and the two met face-to-face on a weekly basis starting immediately after she arrived in 2003.

Mayor Riley essentially owns the current school board, so if the present board maintains the current condition of our schools, then Mayor Riley is directly responsible. Why? Because Mayor Riley sent out over 6,000 letters last September, prior to the November school board election, targeting heavy hitters across the county and beyond. He used Spoleto, Chamber of Commerce and other donor lists to solicit campaign funds and offered his full endorsement for the B-Team in the letter that went out to some of Charleston’s deepest pockets.

He personally recruited Toya Green and even tried to pressure some of her opponents to withdraw from the race. He did the same for Ruth Jordan by pushing to have one of the candidates withdraw when it looked like there would be two black candidates for the same seat, which would mean certain failure for those who wanted to ensure the election of a black representative from West Ashley. Joe’s efforts paid off with the election of 3 of the 4 original B-Team members, including two new black members of the school board. The question remains as to who these board members now serve. Clearly the black community which is associated with Fraser School has discovered that Toya Green isn’t serving them.

Joe often says that public schools are not something the City of Charleston can control or is involved in. Then why does it seem that Mayor Riley is always in the shadows when bad things happen to our downtown public schools? Joe Riley is at least culpable for the current state of public education downtown. The mayor's reelection campaign will go into high gear later this year. Before he tries to change the subject to something like the virtues of being "green" and how the global environment relates to Charleston, important as these issues are, someone should first ask him to explain his position on the lousy environment support our city's nearly comatose public schools.

Anonymous said...

Has Joe Riley never noticed that the children in downtown schools are in third world conditions? Buist Academy is the Rolls Royce of public schools and he has been informed countless times over the past year that it is rarely available to children (especially black children unless Mommy is on the school board) from downtown Charleston. Has he ever noticed that the grandchildren of his friends that attend Buist don't really live in the city?

Anonymous said...

Of course the mayor knows his friends' grandchildren are getting into Buist using fake addresses. Why do you think he stayed so quiet on the issue last summer? And why you think Dr. G-J was so adamant about leaving the "sibling list" alone? Those were some of the mayor's closest friends. I just wish someone would expose him for who he is. I can't believe he's running for another term.
Yeah, Dot Scott, Dr. G-J really "cares" about our black children on the peninsula...like no one else can. I'm sick of the politics of this town.

Anonymous said...

To the 10:59 pm poster:
You cover quite a bit and its scary to think about it. To recognize what you've stated as truth is almost incomprehensible to most people. I'll just leave it at that...for now.

Anonymous said...

Were those fake address "siblings" grandchildren of Riley's friends or were they they primarily the grandchildren of Riley's biggest donors? That should be easy to find out. No, but wait...it is known...remember last summer? The Post and Courier reporter knew about the connection between the huge donation to Riley's campagin against James Island and the Buist story. Why didn't she write about it? What was that name again? What is the name of the company that the grandparent owns? Do the real estate developers control everything in this town?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever compared the amount of faculty Buist is given in comparison to other downtown schools? Just comparing the difference in faculty budgets at the white magnet school (Buist) and the black magnet school (Charleston Progressive) you will notice a difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

How is this justified? It is justified because there is a very "random" lottery and then a fail safe test that determines which 40 children in Charleston County are most deserving of a private school education for free while the rest of the peninsula can go to hell in a handbasket for all the school board cares.

Sallie Ballard must be thrilled to have Ms Green's little girl in the school. That means she is guaranteed 9 more years of "protection" for her private school that is financed by our tax dollars. Ms Green no doubt never even had to worry about a "back up" school for her precious little one. She certainly was not going to attend a real public school on the peninsula. Sallie Ballard needed her too much for that to happen. How do they sleep at night? Clearly, other downtown schools get less because Gregg Meyers Academy (Buist) gets so much.

Anonymous said...

It's nobody's business where Toya, Gregg, and Robert New send or sent their kids to school. Haven't you heard of FERPA? FERPA also means that it isn't your business where the eleven families that took downtown spots at Buist falsely last summer really reside. Plus, didn't you know that all of the families were going through divorces last summer and the false addresses were the valid apartments that the fathers or mothers were living in at the time of application to Buist? Just ask Dr Johnson or Sallie Ballard and they can explain the divorces and FERPA to you crazy downtown people. Luckily the false address crowd doesn't reside downtown or they would become irrational too.

It's not their fault that the false address crowd is all wealthy and/or connected to Sanford or Riley. You can't hold that against them. They were only seeking out the best that they could find(who cares about the flesh and blood children they displaced!) for their own five year olds.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I didn't read the above post last night. What a wacko!
You and Dot Scott should get together for lunch. Now, THAT would be entertainment!
Babbie, on another note, don't you find it interesting that Rev. Darby (VP of the local NAACP)gets his nice spread on the Commentary page to say "just about anything, anytime." And then when, Dot Scott shows her "true colors," she gets the front page again. Let's see what did she say? Dot "didn't deny any of what she said in the article" on Friday. So what was the purpose of the article today? OH, YEAH, she's President of the local NAACP. That's the purpose of the article today. The NAACP could possibly be doing great things in this town if it weren't for their crazy Pres. and VP.
Kudos to Dr. McGinley for having no comment in today's paper. I like her already.

memminger1945 said...

I know the editorial and news staffs at the P&C are supposed to be separate. I still find it hard to believe that one side doesn't have some influence over the other. One example is Dot Scott getting top billing almost every time she opens her mouth. Then we see Joe Darby getting his word in edge wise with a new op-ed piece almost like clock work every month, just as they provide similar space to G-J every 30 days. What's with this love fest? I don't see anyone with opposing views getting similar space, except when it covers a CPT comment or a NAARP slip of the tongue. What is even more curious is the tendency for some (evidently on the right politically) to say the P&C is left leaning politically and socially. It's a complex issue but the P&C (it's editorial staff and its owners) are about as right-wing reactionary and ultra-conservative as you can get. When corruption and self interests are at stake, watch how the biggest crooks start posturing themselves as socially enlightened and their accusers as racist meanies. In this case it's really the other way around. Dot Scott is clearly a racist. She is just like her fellow squatter on the executive committee of the local NAACP, Joe Darby. (How many years now with no new leadership locally?) These people are only interested in power for themselves. The P&C likes to bow and scrape for them for much the same reason. It serves their own intersts. I find it totally hypocritical that the editorial staff at the P&C could even remotely say they are supporters of public education. They never were before. It's access to the seats of power that they support, not equitable access to education. Oh, and I seem to remember when Barbara Williams was still covering children's tea parties, mostly for the South of Broad crowd of a bygone era, while a mere reporter for the Evening Postscript and the Newsless Courier back in the mid 1960's. Almost never a black face was to be seen in any of her articles or events when she was editor of "the society page", not even a top drawer wedding among the city's black aristocracy because it didn't pass the paper's one drop rule. Oh, how fine we all look in sheep’s clothing now. Left vs. right, Blue vs. Red, white vs. black, all of this has been smoke and mirrors to hide the real destruction of our downtown public schools. The P&C has been involved with this agenda for a long time. So next time the P&C bends over backwards to side with Dot Scott, remember their editor regularly publishes lead editorials that support private school vouchers. Next time they praise a super with a failing record, remember the paper's own top reporters have kids who "won" lottery seats in the magnet schools. As far as I'm concerned Barbara Williams (with her lily white past now doing penance) and Dot Scott (with her contrived black outrage while knowing little of what she speaks) are both part of the problem and not part of any solution that I can see. (With apologies to Stokely Carmichael for having borrowed part of his phrase concerning the same issue more than a generation ago.)

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more, but unfortunately I don't have a solution to the problem.
I just think we need to move on to other papers...The State, The Charlotte Observer, etc...someone HAS to have a conscience, right???
John Stossel???

Anonymous said...

I wonder where Dot Scott stands on Fraser and Sanders-Clyde sharing a principal now that "her girl" is gone.