Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Soooo Many Questions: CCSD Operations


What a plethora of problems (or should I say "challenges") for those of us who care about transparency in how CCSD is run and results in trying to fix it!
A few random ruminations:


  1. Annette Goodwin (of Youthbuild) is Hillery Douglas's sister? And now she wants to compete with the group hoping to start a new D20 charter high school--that actually would be integrated? Is that why the Board has been dragging its feet these many weeks? You know what I've said in previous posts on other topics--in the South knowing who's related to whom really sheds insight.

  2. Did the Board even vote on approval of dispersal of funds from the Derthick Fund? If so, that was not reported by the P&C. I'm still trying to figure out why the fund even exists. Why wasn't the money in the district teachers' retirement fund taken by the state when the state retirement fund was instituted? Isn't that money that was dedicated to retirement previously? And was it the retirement fund for D20 only?

  3. How do we get the Board (and the district) to create REAL magnet schools that measure up to magnet schools in every other part of the United States--that have resources and a stated purpose or focus?

  4. What's the way to make CCSD give Charleston Progressive a foreign language teacher so that its middle schoolers will not be at a disadvantage when entering 9th grade?

  5. What exactly is the "Reconfiguration Plan" and why is it sitting on the shelf?

  6. Why didn't Goodloe-Johnson or the P&C report that McGinley is on vacation? G-J sounded like she's meeting with her every day when interviewed on local TV.

  7. Where do I begin with the CCSD budget and shortfalls? Can of worms!

  8. What now can be done to move forward on the Fraser-Sanders-Clyde shared principal front?

  9. Has the US Attorney ever taken an interest in the shenanigans in District 20--where the powers-that-be are satisfied with segregated schools?

  10. I've got more . . . soon.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great questions, Babbie. I'm assuming you'd like some answers from the audience. Maybe it would be easier if we attempted to answer these questions in order (for those of you who may be new, etc...)
I'll take the first question. Yes, Annette Goodwin is Hillery's sister. It may be interesting to recognize she was a Principal at Baptist Hill before returning to the Science class and THEN off to charter school land. For those of you who aren't familiar with CCSD, some refer to our rural districts as the last ditch before you're dumped. Why did Annette leave BHHS? Was it her choice? Could Hillery not save her?
But there is no doubt nepotism is alive and well. Can anyone tell me what relation a certain Associate Superintendent has/had to Dr. G-J in N. Chas.? I heard it from several sources, but never confirmed it.

Anonymous said...

Are you talking about Dr. Vashti Washington(Assoc. Superintendent for Dist. 4 and 10/Elementary Schools)? Is she related to Dr-G-J via her in-laws? I don't know...

Anonymous said...

About question number 2, I can make some comments but Marvin Stewart, Dist. 20 Chair is as knowledgable as anyone on this. He brought the fund's existance to the attention of the current county board who had let it slide for years. The fund is comprised of money in an alternative retirement fund that was closed out when the state retirement fund took over. Whether or not it originally belonged to Lawrence Derthick as an individual or to Dist. 20 or some other group of individuals, I'm not sure. I believe it may have been a second retirement account of Lawrence Derthick that became superfluous if he also had a fully vested state retirement account at the same time. It would seem that $150,000 is a rather small sum for anything other than an individual's retirement account, even if it was closed out twenty years or more ago. It has often been mentioned as a legacy or endowment left by Lawrence Derthick himself, to be used to benefit educational and development programs for needy youth of Charleston County in general. The inclusion of a Dist. 20 representative on the awards committee was an attempt, I think, to insure that Dist. 20 kids in need would be considered. Mr. Stewart was the person who reminded Nancy Cook of this fact when he insisted a few years ago that this fund not be neglected. As it looks now, Dist. 20's participation in this is barely tolerated by the county. It's interests are certainly not being protected by Toya Green.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you answer question #3 with your #9 question.
Maybe the only way to get true quality programs in our Dist. 20 schools (magnet or not) is to seek the US Attorney's opinion.
I think Mr. Stewart attempted that several years ago. Could the Dist. 20 Board try again?

Anonymous said...

The answer to question 4 is to abandon the idiotic "teacher point" system that matches teacher assignments with class size (i.e. larger schools with more students get more teachers with more varied experience to teach a broader array of courses). Buist doesn't have to match "teacher points" to fill it's positions. How else would 20-25 students per class in a K-8 school with just under 400 kids rate having 4 foreign language teachers? Yet next year Burke 7-12 with approximately 1100 students is expected to loose 4 middle and 2 high school teaching positions. And still they have only 1 full time foreign language teacher, if that. Chas. Progressive is trapped, just like Burke, within a system that exempts Buist. Much of Burke's allocation is also eaten up by top heavy administrative positions... like the principal specialists who are part of the extensive outside experts entangled with endless experiments and educational "group theropy" sessions conducted by the College of Charleston. Not until CCSD begins to match consistant and reliable resources with needs, and not just play games with numbers, will there be equity among downtown schools and consistancy among their professional staffs. This includes parity among magnet schools like CPA and Buist. Until they fully address each school's unique needs and fix each school "in place", it will continue to be a segregated system where the poor get poorer and the well connected get quid pro quo.

Babbie said...

To the 9:45 commenter: I was unable to find from the CCSD website whether foreign "world" language credits are required for the diploma. I assume not, since the curriculum site for languages says merely that South Carolina colleges and universities require two years. If Burke with an enrollment of 1100 has only one language teacher, very few students must be taking the credits needed to go to SC colleges--or am I being too pessimistic? Does Burke offer more than two years of language study?

Anonymous said...

Just saw this morning's Post and Courier. Way to go Pam Kusmider!

Anonymous said...

Babbie, to answer your questions about the 9:45PM post, this is still heresay information and can be verified by a Burke parent or by a CCSD insider. This is what has been said by some about the curriculum and course scheduling limitations at Burke involving availability of foreign languages. A handful of middle school kids (less than 30 out of a total of about 300) have been given an opportunity to be exposed to Spanish, with a part-time teacher lent from another department. Few if any students receive credit at the Burke middle school level (these would be units applicable to HS graduation) for these classes which have been inconsistantly taught (because of teacher transfers, lack of books, etc.) My understanding is there is also a disconnect between the specific language opportunities at the middle school level with the same language running into a dead end at the high school level because of staffing conflicts. For example, if they are exposed to Spanish in the middle school, then Spanish is not taken beyond a minimum level in high school such as 1 or 2 years for credit. Again, for example, the report is that if French is not available to the middle school students, then it is the only language at the high school level that is goes beyond the 2nd year for credit. There's no rhyme or reason to the staffing. The only permanent full time teacher in HS is now reported to a French teacher. Spanish is believed to be closer to 'hit or miss'. And the permanent full time French teacher (only now completing his first full year at Burke) is being moved next year to Buist as their new assistant principal and as their one obligatory minority staff member. As for advanced placement foreign language courses at Burke HS (beyond the 2nd year of either French or Spanish) Burke has little demand and seldom makes the offer to go that high with the typcally 3-6 students who want it (or are prepared for it) out of the 1100 students in attendance at the 7-12 school. The actual situation at Burke is probably very close to this description but it can be fairly easily checked for accuracy.

Anonymous said...

Question 5. What exactly is the "Reconfiguration Plan" and why is it sitting on the shelf?

In late 2002 or early 2003, when Ron McWhirt was still superintendent, a "Dist. 20 Reconfiguration Plan" was unilaterally announced by 75 Calhoun St. It proposed closure of Rivers, combining the same with Burke, creation of several intervention plans and merge several downtown elementary schools with low enrollment. It would also presumably create more vacant schools downtown and allow CCSD to sell more of this "surplus" real estate. After years of quiet complacency and annual reports of repeated school failures it was expected that Dist. 20 parents would go along and the general public would ignore the plan. They were caught totally off guard when several hundred parents, residents, alumni and teachers showed up en mass at CCSD and Dist. 20 board meetings to protest and denounce the plan as the final straw. It was a racially mixed group and they clearly weren't going to take it anymore. The Dist. 20 board suggested a "one year moratorium" against CCSD acting on its plan and requested that a series of community meetings be scheduled during this delay to tap into this sudden uprising of public interest in downtown schools.

In the summer of 2003, it was announced that Ron McWhirt would be replaced by Maria Goodloe. When she arrived in the fall of 2003, her administration announced that a series of public meetings would be held to develop a "new" Dist. 20 Reconfiguration Plan. Harvey Gantt was contracted to facilitate and over 300 individuals were "invited" to participate, first to hear a presentation about how the process would work and then to break up in carefully arranged discussion groups to make suggestions on how to "reconfigure" downtown schools to meet public expectations. Individual school communities were obviously pre-organized by their supporters and fairly well represented throughout the process as they lobbied for this or that idea. These were later to become the "thematic" emphasis schools (as opposed to "magnet" schools). Rivers was to become a re-energized middle school with at least 3 of the elementary schools adding grades to become K-8 to take some of the pressure off the middle school and to allow for smaller classes there. Buist was to look to Burke to become one of its "feeder" schools as AP and College Prep. courses were to return to Burke. Also a fully restored vocational program would reappear at Burke.

There was much hope (understandably tinged with some experienced skepticism) that the results would be followed. At least there appeared to be honest public participation. There was also some reasonable compromise during the process to define what the goals for each school were within a total picture of what Dist. 20 and the downtown public school system would eventually look like. At the conclusion of the process (at least 3 separate meetings) a report with a series of recommendations was approved by the public attendees in early 2004. This was approved in the spring of 2004 by the Dist. 20 board with a minor recommendation concerning a proposed medical and science oriented high school program. Goodloe took the report to the county board (without mention of the Dist. 20 amendment to the original report). They considered only the original Gantt-Huberman generated report and it was officially accepted by CCSD's administration and the county board in either May or June of 2004. It was widely touted as receiving broad public support with many high profile private citizens’ names attached to it.

That's the last we heard of the reconfiguration plan for Dist. 20 that was generated by the Gantt-Huberman moderated citizens groups.

What has been ultimately implemented by Maria Goodloe's administration is actually the same plan initially floated by Ron McWhirt, with some minor modifications and a much extended time table from what was originally presented in 2002. This raises the question about just how powerful a superintendent here really is. How could two entirely different superintendents (McWhirt vs. Goodloe) who reportedly don't even like each other and represent often opposing groups of supporters, have effectively implemented almost the same plan (and ignore the community generated one)? They did this over the steady and nearly total opposition of Dist. 20 supporters and its last three elected constituent boards (2002, 2004, and 2006).

Anonymous said...

Babbie...each of these questions are major topics.

As some of us plan to attend the meeting scheduled for May 22 at Burke HS, we need to consider that this was also initiated by Maria Goodloe and is to be moderated by Harvey Gantt. We should contemplate what happened when we gathered more than 3 years ago, presumably to plan the future of our downtown schools.

At its meeting last Monday, the CCSD board agreed to pay Harvey Gantt $77,000 for this series of meetings. We might also ask what CCSD paid him for the last series of meetings he hosted in Dist. 20. We might also ask if he is aware of the fact that his 2004 report is still sitting on a shelf somewhere at 75 Calhoun St.

Anonymous said...

#6. Nancy Cook said Dr. McGinley couldn't be present to hear the board's acceptance of her new contract on Monday because, "She had to catch a plane." If I were she, I'd take my vacation now, too. Why engage Goodloe in any unnecessary battles while the outgoing CEO is still fully armed and still lodged in the castle's keep? The local press should be picking up on this. Goodloe is really a lame duck, but what can McGinley do until she boards that last plane for Seattle? At least Goodloe will be out of town for this coming weekend starting tomorrow. I guess she'll be house hunting on Pudget Sound or Lake Washington, near Seattle. So who'll be running the show here while they're both gone, Bill Lewis or Janet Rose?

memminger1945 said...

Maybe the communications director is on the way out, because Goodloe's comment in today’s P&C is almost their only defense (if you exclude a former county board chairman’s somewhat neutral comments). Still she says something like this, "They can't prove we're discriminating between these two magnet schools [Buist and Chas. Progressive] because we have no magnet school policy." That's rich. Give me a break. What is it about de facto segregation that Goodloe doesn't get? Surely she's not that dense. Seattle should be reading this.

Babbie said...

Did anyone else wonder about the figure for Buist--69% white? According to recent board members' comments, that should be closer to 89%. So, where did Diette get it? Goodloe-Johnson?

Anonymous said...

"Minority" IS an interesting word to attempt to define. Buist parents could more accurately tell us how many African-Americans are at the school. Are there any Buist parents who are willing to speak up?

Anonymous said...

Buist is maybe 10% African American in grades K-3.

Anonymous said...

First there are lies. Then damn lies. And finally, there are statistics. The numbers relating to CCSD are confusing but they actually can reflect the truth if they are used properly...which is exactly what some within CCSD and certain special interests don't want to happen.

Bring in the demographers, because we have unwittingly perpetuated a lot of myths about race, ethnicity, rich people and kids growing up in the city when it comes to schools downtown. Like in the world beneath the rabbit hole, nothing is what it seems.

You say 89% is the percentage of Black kids among the approximately 3100 students enrolled in ten Dist. 20 schools...that’s probably right if you include Buist (K-8) in the totals. As for the rest there's Burke (7-12, high and middle), Sanders-Clyde (K-7), Charleston Progressive (at Courtenay, K-8), Fraser (K-6), James Simons (K-6), Mitchell (K-6), Memminger (K-6) and Charleston Development Academy (K-5, currently the peninsula’s only charter school) .

If you don't include Buist in the totals, then the racial make up of the remaining Dist. 20 schools is 99% Black, including Chas. Progressive. The remaining percentage of 1% is really a place holder only. It might represent about 25-30 kids (very likely much fewer) who are listed for racial identity purposes as one of the following: Asian, South Pacific Islander, Hispanic, American Indian, White or “mixed race”. A very small number in this “non-Black” group may be White. Actually the total number of White students in Dist. 20 schools other than Buist is closer to 4 or 5 (that is individual students, not a percentage).

Buist makes this numbers game even more interesting if not bizarre. When they say the percentage of White students at Buist is 69% that may very well be correct. But to not finish the racial breakdown by making this statement imply something else is misleading. The remaining 31% are not all Black. At last count (several years ago) the total racial composition at Buist might have included less than 24% Black with a balance of at least 7% Asian or "other".

Buist was originally proposed to reflect the racial make up of CCSD as of 1986 which was about 60% White and 40% Black. Curiously CCSD is now reportedly 54% Black and 46% all others (including White). Yes, CCSD has been loosing students, especially White students, since 1986, even though the demographic statistics for Charleston County reflect just the opposite. It seems like our public schools and the way they are being managed here are no longer attracting students, but for the last couple of decades or so have been encouraging prospective students and their families to seek alternatives outside the public school system.

My figures may be slightly out of date, but the downtown Black community is quite aware of this numbers game that CCSD is still playing, especially with Buist. So when the P&C only gives one racial percentage figure instead of the whole breakdown, it means they have simply bought into CCSD's message of disinformation.

Anonymous said...

So the above figure of 24% African-American at Buist is now probably way too high an estimate. I knew it was shinking but didn't realize it was this fast. This is all CCSD's doing though they like to try to blame it on others. I really feel for that parent at Memminger with a very talented and gifted child who's been on the waiting list at Buist as number 9 for going on, what is it, five years now? She'll never get in but she was led to believe the system was fair when it really isn't.

Anonymous said...

That very bright child at Memminger is too valuable to hand over to Buist. If a school such as Memminger loses 2 or 3 of those high PACT scorers it could mean their school report card drops to failing. Nothing against Ms. Ross or anybody else trying to hold on to their job. It's just sad that the the system is set up to keep that child out of Buist at all costs. No one at CCSD is thinking about what is best for a child...it's all about the PACT scores and the careers of CCSD employees.

memminger1945 said...

Did anyone catch this? All the difference may very well be in the honest choice of just one word. Within the context of the entire editorial this single word as originally presented by Ms. Parker is even more powerful AND correct. Why on earth would the P&C editors choose to soft petal this by substituting it with a far less accurate word?

Read a line from the original version of today’s Chicago Tribune editorial by syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker:

“And the worst racists are those teachers and administrators who denied these empowered brats the expectation of civilized behavior.”

P&C’s edited version of the same line from this editorial:

“And the worst offenders are those teachers and administrators who denied these empowered brats the expectation of civilized behavior.”

Anonymous said...

Some members of the Dist. 20 Board with the help of the Dist. 20 Families organization gathered data last year to created a picture of what Dist. 20 schools might look like and accomplish if they were to serve Dist. 20 needs first. This “virtual Dist. 20” gives a surprising and tantalizing look at what could exist with a little leadership, planning and work.

There is more than a little irony in knowing that with 5,100 seats in our downtown public schools, with the right application of the already available resources and talent, Dist. 20 could very easily become a raging success in as little as three short years. In so doing it could reasonably become the best managed, the most racially balanced, the most efficiently funded and highest rated school district in SC rich in the educational and cultural resources that surround every one of its schools.

Babbie said...

To memminger1945: I hadn't a chance to do other than skim the lead editorial this morning and realize that it was prompted by Parker's column on the op-ed page. LOVE their substitution.

Gee, I wonder why they made it! No bias there.

Anonymous said...

The substitution of those two words in Kathleen Parker's column is powerful! Thanks for passing that along. Wow -
I noticed in the paper today that May 17 marks the date the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Brown v. Board of Ed. (1954) decision.
1954!!! What year are we in???

Anonymous said...

About question 7 and CCSD's budget, will be ever get a real breakdown of the finances by school and by administrative department? I'd like to know exactly where the money is going. If twenty different law firms in town each get paid for providing services to CCSD, it looks like a creative way to keep those firms from reprenting clients againts CCSD. Until we get a forensic audit, we'll never know who is really on the take. CCSD is after all the biggest business, spender and payroll provider in the tri-county area, possibly even bigger than the State Ports Authority and MUSC. There are a lot of people who may be on the receiving end who don't want to reveal this. Isn't it interesting that CCSD, as part of its contract with the Superintendent, is agreeing to pay Chamber of Commerce dues "on her behalf" to the tune of over $37,000 for Goodloe-Johnson. So how does it look when the Chamber through its PAC floats a slate for the same school board that draws up the Super's contract? Hey, Brian Moody, as resident CPA do you want to explain why this looks bad?

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know our schools are getting the most for what we have. If the budget planners would consider this maybe it would be easier to get public support for new programs or even tax increases. It would be nice too if district administators would be more open to receive constructive suggestions from some of us 'customers' with a little distance from management. It might even offer some objectivity to the process.

Anonymous said...

Go Pam Kusmider.... and all those that stand up to the CCSD. The CCSD is scrambling to cover their tracks. I wonder how much longer they can keep it up?

Anonymous said...

Question 8: The Dist. 20 board and its chairman Marvin Stewart said they would meet with the Superintendent (does that mean out-going or in-coming) and the County Chair to say they weren't buying appointments that weren't approved by the appropriate Constituent Boards. So the only thing CCSD can do is follow the legally established process. Goodloe did it wrong. The local communities and the Dist. 20 board say they want separate principals, so they should get just that. The new superintendent needs to respect the process and work to establish better communication with downtown schools and their board. It's the law and it's common sense.

Anonymous said...

It would take great courage for Dr. McGinley to do right by D20. I think it would speak volumes if Dr. McGinley follows the law and give Fraser their own principal,and make Charleston Progressive a true Magnet School.