Sunday, September 16, 2007

Eyes on the Prize in This CCSD Fight

In one corner we have a school building that began life as Rivers High School, renovated previously at a cost of millions, sitting vacant, perhaps as an emblem of wasted taxpayer dollars.

In the other corner we have an avid group of racially-diverse parents and citizens anxious to bring true academic success to downtown Charleston in an integrated setting in the form of a charter high school in District 20.

And in the middle we have obstructionist Gregg Meyers and the majority of the CCSD school board--that would be Douglas, Cook, Jordan, and Hampton-Green, who suddenly must defend the indefensible action taken arrogantly in August. The Board is about to find out that just because you have a 5-4 majority does not mean that riding roughshod over the minority has no consequences.

Today's editorial staff of the P & C does a fairly creditable job of taking on Meyers's self-serving Letter to the Editor published on the same page, so I'm just going to point out the downside if CCSD doesn't do a 180 and allow a public school to use a public school building in the same manner as James Island Charter High School and Orange Grove Elementary. As I've said before, parents stymied in creating better schools as charter schools ultimately will turn their efforts to school vouchers. Can you blame them? To them, their children's education is not an intellectual exercise. Even now, as reported in the State, the prospects for school choice look better for the next legislative session.
In addition, as the P & C's editors so delicately put it, "Mr. Meyers also writes that he will try to return the question of the school's rent to the board's agenda." My! I'm sure it will take a herculean effort for him to gather his sycophants to agree, since they've been following his advice all along.

The editors also point out that, "When the rent issue was last considered, two board members were not physically present but participated in the discussion by telephone. This issue is a critical one to the school's future and deserves a full hearing and debate, which to his credit, Mr. Meyers recognizes and is working to accomplish." Well, he certainly didn't recognize it the FIRST time around!

Maybe they're playing to his ego so that he will cooperate, but notice that the editors did not NAME the board members who participated and VOTED by telephone--that would be Board Chairwoman Nancy Cook and MEYERS HIMSELF. Further, it doesn't take a crystal ball to know who designed the invidious rent policy in the first place and knew that it would come to a vote while he was absent.

Gregg Meyers can make all the nice noises about charter schools he wishes, but the reality is that he can't stand the idea of losing power--a sad example of a former Civil Rights lawyer stuck in the sixties. Apparently, he suspects any group that he doesn't personally control of ulterior motives.

And he's part of a system that has produced de facto segregation in virtually every District 20 school. He's the one whose motives should be suspect.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like the rent issues are going down in defeat. But what about the requirement to share the campus with another school that is still only on paper itself, High Tech High? What is HTH? The charter school is putting together an academic oriented math & science curriculum, but CCSD isn't saying what High Tech High is yet. At the same time Burke is asking why not put HTH inside that existing school. CCSD isn't giving answers to them either.

29403 said...

CCSD leaders should already be sitting down with Burke community leaders to discuss Burke's interests in taking over all of the programs that were originally discussed for Rivers...the AP Academy, High Tech High and Preservation High. Burke's building is ready to go without the delays or expensive renovations being discussed if the two technical and trades programs were placed at Rivers. If the charter school can use Rivers as it is and Burke is ready to go on the other three programs being floated by CCSD, then the logical choice of where to put them now should be obvious.

Anonymous said...

Don't think for one minute that they won't uphold the rent issue. Gregg has learned to use his words to his advantage. The rent will stay, he will vote for it and then say, "Hey, I put it back on the agenda, no one would change their vote." You can't trust that one!!

Anonymous said...

I'm just sooo glad Gregg helped me to understand the difference between "quotas" and "incentives" -
I was confused, but now I'm not. Gregg IS the puppetmaster.

Westside Resident said...

When a huckster or snake oil salesman says they are putting everything on the table, look out! Watch for what's going on under the table. Rent and quotas (incentives as he calls them or extortion as others might say) are only part of their shenanigans. Rivers should be used to its fullest by one well organized school. The Charter School for Math & Science is the way to go.

The only reason CCSD is ignoring calls from Burke supporters for a comprehensive voc/tech/trades department at Burke is because they want to use this questionable program as a stumbling block being used against the charter school. High Tech is still just a concept with no details & rumored to be a future dumping ground for the discipline school's overflow.

Just like with hucksters & snake oil salesmen, CCSD puts rent on the table but continues to move on high tech high just out of sight. In the end downtown we’ll have no charter school, no high tech trades program at Burke and no change to the dismal choices parents continue to face among our downtown public schools.

Anonymous said...

There are many related prizes in this battle that should be kept in plain sight. The rent issue at Rivers is just one of many attempts CCSD is using to divert attention or divide ranks downtown. The vagueness of High Tech High is another. Ultimately the real prize is more than the single achievement of creating a successful math and science charter school. It's part of a larger goal to create many successful schools for parents to choose from in Dist. 20. Burke and Charter School groups are both working toward that larger goal. They seem to have recognized a common interest in their mutual success. CCSD should be working with them instead of wasting time by inventing new obstacles.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad Babbie sees Gregg for who he truly is. Clearly many of this blog's readers are "getting it" as well.
Now, if only the uninformed public would "get it" -
Maybe we could have him removed from the board since he wasn't even living IN his district when he was elected. Where are you living NOW, Gregg?

Anonymous said...

What exactly is the legal status of an elected official who moves out of the district they were elected to serve? This might be complicated by the fact that CCSD board members hold "resident" seats but are elected county-wide. It's not exactly the same as an at-large position, but I'm not sure how the SC Election Commission would see it if someone were to file a complaint. A simple solution would be to change the seats on the county school board to single member districts.

Babbie said...

And why not? Isn't that how the County Council members are elected?

Anonymous said...

Yes it is. And what a nice surprise we had in the Post and Courier editorials this morning.
Wouldn't it be great if the P&C sued for FOIA violations?
Yeah, I know...but I can dream, can't I?

Anonymous said...

We're still missing the point here. Gregg represents Mt. Pleasant, Sullivans Island, IOP, etc.. in that he is suppose to LIVE in the district. From what I've been told, he did not LIVE in the district at the time of the elections. Even Arthur Ravenel was aware of this...
So what gives? Only in Charleston, huh? I have such a love - hate relationship with this town, it's beyond funny.

d20 said...

I know this question isn't directly related to the charter school, but how can CCSD restrict student tranfers under NCLB? Parents are being told that certain schools are exempt from NCLB or that if my child is zoned for a particular school a transfer under NCLB will only be allowed to certain other schools. Regardless of the federal guidelines, I'm told that some magnet schools are excluded from the NCLB options while others are not. How is CCSD able to write its own rules?

Anonymous said...

If my 5th grade child has good grades, consistantly scores in the upper 10% on standardized tests and is zoned for a school rated below average or unsatifactory for the last 3 years, CCSD still says that my child cannot be admitted to Buist Academy or Jennie Moore, even if all the minimum academic admissions standards are exceeded. I'm told that Haborview and St. Andrews Math & Science aren't options in my case either. It would make sense if magnet schools with waiting lists like Buist would at least give NCLB applicants priortity on those lists, but I'm told most of these schools don't consider NCLB at all. How can CCSD do this when the federal regulations seem to say they can't.

It would be good if the public could see how many NCLB transfer requests were made for this school year, how many were accepted by CCSD, showing how many came from what schools and how many NCLB transfers were received by other schools. CCSD also provides bus transportation to some NCLB transfers but not to others. Who decides?

So far all of this looks like CCSD tries to limit school choices, not increase them. NCLB as it applies to Charleston County schools offers little hope to most families who want access to better schools.

Is NCLB a cruel joke or has CCSD so far just been able to get away with breaking the law?

Anonymous said...

I agree that CCSD seems to make up NCLB rules to suit their needs.
Why isn't Sullivan's Island Elementary on the list? They're rated Excellent each year. They have declining enrollment. And we all know we have bus stops out there to transport kids into Buist. So surely, we can afford to transport Dist. 20 kids out to Sullian's Island, right?
Maybe our County board rep. who supposedly lives on Sullivan's Island can help us out with these questions. What's up, Mr. Snake Meyers?

Anonymous said...

The Chronicle newspaper tells it like it is in today's edition. The Charleston weekly just released reports that main stream leaders in the downtown African-American community have announced they want school choices for Dist. 20. They want the games being played with their kids and the downtown schools by CCSD and by certain interlopers in the downtown community to stop. According to the paper several community leaders have endorsed the charter school for math and science at Rivers. They also want a serious high tech program to be set up at Burke and not set up at Rivers just as a way for CCSD to block the charter school. Do you think some downtown residents are just tired of being used with nothing to show for it in return? CCSD has a long history of doing that to downtown schools. Looks like there's a chance the people downtown are saying "Enough! We want our schools back!"