Monday, June 18, 2007

NAACP: Wearing Mental Blinders

Protesting that they "had no idea" that Monday was McGinley's first day on the job as superintendent, the NAACP and Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance rallied yesterday before the former Rivers Middle School to insist that CCSD not allow a charter high school on its premises. You have to wonder just whom they think they represent. How many of the participants in yesterday's rally actually live on the penninsula? NAACP President Dot Scott doesn't.

Many statements made to the media (and this was an event staged solely for the benefit of media coverage) are simply untrue. Channel 5's reporter even was told that the building should not be used, that "nothing needs to be done with it." Channel 5 was also told that the "School Board has proposed making it into a District 20 charter school." Would that it were so! The truth is that the NAACP was caught flat-footed by the groundswell of community support--both black and white--in evidence at last month's meeting on proposals for Rivers.

Dot Scott's remarks to Channel 5 (reported on its website) become increasingly disingenuous. First, she practically states that the school will become a private one and then suggests it will end up like Beaufort Academy. The latter is not, nor does it appear ever to have been, a charter school; it is a private school, pure and simple. She also suggests that, contrary to state law, the school will become one for the privileged and white. Why does she continue to ignore the obvious community support among black residents on the penninsula for the charter high school? Why is she ignoring state-mandated requirements for charter schools that will prevent such an outcome?

Scott's statement in today's P & C calls for those who are "really serious about diversity" to "choose [Burke High School]." Just exactly what does she have in mind here? Burke is a failing school because it has been run by CCSD; that continues to be the case. Maybe Scott should consider starting a movement to turn Burke into a charter school. Except, of course, state law would require it to be "diverse." She really doesn't want that.

James Island Charter High School uses a public school building. Scott would like readers of the P & C to believe that it's not fair for another charter high school to similarly use a public school building. Nonsense. In fact, since Rivers was originally the name of a high school, let's bring back the old name.

Rivers Charter High School. Now, doesn't that sound good?


Anonymous said...

Oh, Babbie, you've out done yourself. If only the local media would research their own stories as well as you do. Not only does Dot Scott not live on the peninsula, it seems that several of the children of the Berkeley County (Cainhoy) native's family are rumored to have attended private schools and certainly not any downtown public schools.

Anonymous said...

When Dot Scott's and Rev. Darby have children at Burke then they have the right to tell downtown people what to do. Burke should go Charter too. It is possibly the only way Burke will be saved from the mess created by CCSD.

Anonymous said...

Exactly who is Dot representing? Under her leadership the local chapter of the NAACP is become one of the smallest, least inclusive urban chapters in SC. It was recently described in an article in the P&C as having very few white members (5%) among only 650 members total...including lapsed and transferred memberships, too, I guess.

For an organization that nationally through its many local chapters has prided itself on being representative of the communities they serve, Charleston's chapter is not exactly standing out as a pillar of success. Columbia's chapter reportedly has a large percentage of white members (35%) which is more typical of very active urban NAACP chapters.

Before Dot tries to blame the low "inclusive" rate of her chapter on Charleston's racism, as if to mimic the recently departed superintendent, let it be known that Dot actively discourages white members unless she screens them for proper conformity to her opinions first. This is likely the reason many local NAACP members (numberous black activists and more than a few whites supporters) have maintained their "national" membership but have not chosen to affiliate with the local chapter.

It would appear that as the NAACP approaches its 100th year, Dot Scott has managed to drive the once venerated Charleston chapter into the ground with fewer members and a lot less support from the "majority" community as a whole. Dot's racism and bigotry is what is giving Charleston's brand of "intergration" a bad name. It would be a lot easier if she would work for change and didn't work so hard at defending the problem against change.

D20 parent said...

Give us a break, Dot, you were silent on all the other inequities forced on downtown school children. Why not support a real group of diverse downtown residents that is trying to open doors that were shut by CCSD a long time ago?

Anonymous said...

Dot, why didn't you support the parents of Fraser?

Anonymous said...

Dot Scott is crazy...The end...Now, where do her grandkids go to school?

ex post carrier said...

I thought the P&C was doing a "feel good" article on the local NAACP organization to be featured in the "Faith and Values" portion of an upcoming Sunday edition. I guess when someone checked the data on the local NAACP chapter led by Dot Scott and her comrade in arms, Joe Darby, they realized the article might have to be placed on the obit pages instead. The NAACP is supposed to fight for change not against it. The local leaders have some explaining to do for why they are defending segregation and poor schools.

Anonymous said...

James Island Charter High School is a converted public high school and the school pays rent to the district for the building. I am a teacher in CCSD and I believe Burke's problems are not the fault of CCSD, but the parents of Burke and CCSD combined. Parents need to become more involved in the process. You can not complain if you are not doing anything to change the situation. Claiming on the internet is not an effective method. Charter school is not the solution for Burke, charter schools are operated by the parents and from my records parents are not involved at Burke.

Anonymous said...

One more time: Charter schools are public schools! Every state has different laws. Again, South Carolina law mandates that Charter schools must reflect the racial balance of the community.

Actually if Burke became a Charter School more "involved" parents might send their children there. It is shocking how many downtown middle class black familes Burke loses to West Ashley and James Island High Schools. Who can blame those parents?

Memminger1945 said...

Here are some facts. CCSC has pushed policies that stripped downtown schools of meaningful and challenging course work and academics. Then it effectively drained off it best teachers and allowed a revolving door to be installed for the appointment of principals. Downtown schools, including Burke, lost their footing when involved and concerned parents became discouraged. CCSD further encouraged more than 1200 downtown students to attend other public schools located off the peninsula and away from their neighborhoods. As parental participation declined and school level leadership became more dependent on direct management from 75 Calhoun, other Charleston County schools began to "suggest" that some of their "problem" students (and even staff members) be transferred to downtown schools rather than face "termination". More than 800 students are bused in daily to downtown schools from off the peninsula. More than a few of these are being “dumped” by what would have been their neighborhood schools.

Strangely, without legal challenge from NAACP or any other viable quarter, CCSD has managed to re-establish a racially segregated school system downtown, but worse, it effectively remove parental and community interest by separating its schools from those parents who traditionally have been involved. With only a few exceptions which the County Board Chair and Vice-Chair like to call the “downtown crazies”, District 20 has been deliberately decapitated by CCSD. It’s conveniently become CCSD’s “recycling bin” and real estate “warehouse” to be sold off whenever a “friendly” offer is proposed.

Any memory of racial diversity, academic excellence, access to reliable resources and consistent leadership (not to mention any hope for these in the near term...which is what concern most parents of a school aged child) were totally destroyed.

Now do you want to blame this on a "lack of parental involvement"? Get real. It's now a community problem that we have assumed as a result of the short sighted political leadership we keep electing for the school board and city hall. Our elected leaders created this in our name because we allowed it.

Don’t use the all too easy excuse that “It’s the parent’s fault.” It’s just like saying “It’s the teacher’s fault,” when good teachers don’t get administrative support or bad teachers are regularly hired by an incompetent administration.

Memminger1945 said...

Here's another fact about charter schools developing where parental support has become dysfunctional. There are several proven and respected non-profit corporations (The Kipp Foundation is one) that have been hired to work with schools and urban communities. Some of these involve situations that could be described as more depressing than what CCSD has allowed to develop in its worst schools. With its deep community roots, Burke is actually in a better position than most of these schools. Under what is typically a 5-year contract, a professional management group like Kipp can help reorganize the direction of schools very much like Burke and prepare it for eventually running itself. They start by assisting the community in defining the future of what is really their school. With community approval they also help the school community develop its business plan for both the transition and for the initial 5-year charter cycle. Once approved by the community (including parents, teachers and traditional school supporters), the plan allows the outside non-profit group to take over direct management of the school as a charter school "conversion" which will ultimately be turned over to the community when it is trained and ready.

Because they already had a pool of involved parents and a wealth of professional support within the community, JI Charter HS converted from traditional to charter without needing outside assistance. They already had the resources in hand and they used them.

A school community like Burke has lost much of its in-house talent over the years with CCSD’s mismanagement. To go this route, the Burke supporters would initially need to identify what talent and educational resources it still has and then begin to redevelop the rest of what it will need within the community. This might include financial talent, program support and general management skills. Fortunately, the building and real estate would not be a major issue for Burke, but how it can tap into other downtown resources that would enhance its educational goals would be a challenge. With no help in this area from CCSD except with “remedial” or “disadvantage” labels attached to them, the use of related community resources by Burke has always been a challenge, too.

Helping to set the goals, then training school and community leaders to reach those goals, is what a contracted organization like Kipp does for the aspiring charter school groups that employ them. During the typical 5-year contract, the contractor would function as the school’s operating management team. They would also begin the process to help develop and train parents and the local community to take over. At first it would be gradual. As it progressed, the school’s local team would eventually run the entire school just as any regular charter school would be expected to be operated. Since a charter has to be reviewed every 5-years, the end of the first renewal cycle a goal would be for the renewal to be under the community based charter group and no longer the outside contractor. The local school based group would have been prepared to assume full control by that time.

By the way, many very talented and professional African-Americans are involved at every level of the Kipp organization. They are committed, they say, because of the Kipp organization’s commitment and success in supporting so many charter schools that have developed within minority communities around the country.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous 1:21 pm: Since CCSD hasn't allowed so far any direct (or even indirect action) from the community in support of downtown schools, the best thing those who support them can do is communicate and exchange ideas. Complaining with these postings on the internet is taking action "to change the situation". What are you contributing?

Anonymous said...

I can tell from a lot of comments on here are from "disguntled" citizens. I think you need to direct you anger to the board not the superintendent. The board has allowed District 20 schools to suffer for years and when someone comes in with change,the community is in an uproar.

I am an employee with James Island Charter High School and a lot of the information that is posted on this website about JICS is not true, so that further tells me that you are going with rumors and not the facts

Anonymous said...

If something is said here that's wrong, please set the others straight. Don't forget, the most disturbing misrepresentation of charter schools seems to be coming from CCSD officials who appear to deliberately try to confuse people. They have been quoted in the press or heard during official public presentations like with the annual budget making untrue and misleading statements. They know the truth but it's not in their interest for the public to pursue that path. Don Kennedy (CFO), county school board Vice Chairman, Hillery Douglas, and other members of the same board have said repeatedly that JICHS is "taking money away from public schools" and it's "irresponsible" that JICHS should be "withholding money that could be spent at other schools". Those kinds of statements are designed to feed the myth and fear that charter schools are not real public schools. They also imply incorrectly that somehow charter schools take money away from other educational programs. The debate is really about who controls public education, local communities or a vast corporate bureaucracy?

Channel 4 TV reported that Charleston is the third most integrated community in the US. It would seem that true neighborhood schools would be the a dream come true for some, but maybe CCSD has a better idea that they are keeping from us.

The real issue is definitely about county board members retaining ultimate decision power as to who gets to spend what, where and when...usually without effective public redress. CCSD has a reputation of limiting educational alternatives, for a variety of reasons that often lack progressive vision or a commitment to genuine educational reform. Don't forget that CCSD is actively seeking to close off NCLB transfers available to District 20 kids (this is something the press isn't reporting) and has already shut off to them equal access to other magnet schools with entry exams in the county (not just Buist). CCSD continues to steer and trap minorities into failing schools, many of whom the system has automatically labeled 'low achievers' even before they enter kindergarten. CCSD, through its policies, tells others to "take a hike" if they don't like what's available. In the last example, CCSD can ensure that politically active and economically secure households located downtown are less likely to "have a dog in this fight".

Yes, we do need more accurate information, but most importantly we need to educate each other about what is really going on with our public schools. The fate of downtown schools, including their going charter, will have an impact on others in the county and the county board is well aware of this. On one thing we all should be able to agree; we deserve much better than we are getting.

Babbie said...

I'm not aware that any information about JICHS on this blog is untrue. Please, please, set the record straight. That's what all of us are trying to do.

Anonymous said...

JICHS was an excellent school before we became charter. We had community support before the charter and we still have it. It was not our intention to save money, we made every effort to send all our money on the students and we will continue to do that.
Being a charter school has it advantages and disadvantages just like any other school. Going charter is not always the answer to the problem. I think some of us are using "charter" as a quick fix. James Island has a great relationship with members of CCSD, the media is taking the information and trying to create a image that JICHS is withholding money.

I believe the money should be spent and it will be spent. Charter schools are public schools operate with the district. We tried to maintain a workable relationship with CCSD and any other school in the area.

I am asking that we do not misuse the word charter as a quick fix. Going charter is not always the best choice. I think Burke needs more paternal support and strong administrative leadershio.

Anonymous said...

I hope you are right about JICHS having a great relationship with CCSD and the county board, but that's not what it looks or sounds like when you hear Hillery Douglas, Ruth Jordan, Gregg Meyers, Don Kennedy or the former superintendent talk about it. Gregg Meyers even went so far as to indicate last summer that JICHS might not get CCSD's support when it was time to renew its charter. All of them have either directly or indirectly implied that there is something sinister about JICHS's success. I also remember that Bill Lewis attended one of the initial meetings that were held before JI was converted. He openly sneered at the effort and went on to ask who would pay the rent to cover the extensive renovations he had just completed. He was clearly implying that JI was being "taken out of the public school system" which was no true. If CCSD are friends of JICHS, they have a strange way of demonstrating their friendship. It looks more like they are talking out of both sides of their mouth.

Anonymous said...

We are currently rewriting our charter for renewal. It is our hope that CCSD will renew the charter. There are things that CCSD are upset with us about and I believe that we will solve this like professionals.
JICHS doesn't look down on people from other schools and that is the perception that we are getting from the public.

Trust me, being charter does not make you better than the other. I believe as a charter school we should not have a surplus in money because we are a non profit business. All the money should be spent at the end of each school year. I do believe that the money will be spent and we do have projects in the works for that money, but the news is not mentioning that.

Clisby said...

Fortunately, CCSD doesn't have carte blanche to refuse to renew a charter. The state law describes the circumstances under which a renewal can be rejected.

And I completely disagree that JICHS should spend all its money every year. A fiscally responsible charter school ought to have some money in reserve - the school district isn't responsible for any unexpected expenses. Just to pick an example, suppose a charter school has a few classrooms in trailers, and the next hurricane takes them out? If that happened at a regular public school, it would be CCSD's problem. At a charter school, it's the charter school's problem. They'd better keep some money on hand.

And the fact that JICHS has plans for spending a good chunk of the $4 million has been reported.

d20 parent said...

The point is that to the informed outsider JICHS is doing a good job. It is doing a good job especially for the students who live on James Island. I think the point some people are trying to make is that some CCSD officials and board members have been less than honest about the good job JICHS is doing. And then there are people like Dot Scott who just don't speak the truth at all.