Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Apparently, Charter School organizers, who must come equipped with the patience of Job, have been waiting since early October to get together with a committee from the CCSD Board to talk over differences. When no such meeting occured they had to fish or cut bait at Tuesday's deadline for its appeal.
Hillery Douglas, new Board Chairman, said that, well, they were supposed to meet. His solution is that he might "try this week to set up a meeting." That, of course, would be after the filing deadline. But then, what naif believed that the Board's committee planned negotiation in good faith with the Charter School proponents?
Douglas pouts that the "school is relying on legal arguments" that the "board hasn't had the opportunity to address"! He plans that opportunity for when hell freezes over, or at least the last possible moment on his delay-linger-and-wait agenda. That apparently is the next board meeting.
Meanwhile, CCSD's lawyers continue to rack up legal fees. Too bad we can't spend the money on education.
Which do you think the CCSD Board prefer: new charter schools or vouchers? They seem to believe that they can go on forever without either.
For a look at the Charter School's plans visit charlestonmathand science.org
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
- "founded in 2003 to serve economically and socially disadvantaged children who live in Gadsden Green, a city of Charleston Housing Authority project, and the surrounding area.
- About 75 percent of the 105 students live in that area, and many others are the children of professionals who work downtown.
- The school, in a retrofitted building at Gadsden Green, grew out of a tutoring project at Ebenezer [AME] that was designed to help parents learn to teach their children.
- It developed into a charter school, which is run by a governance board of parents, teachers and community leaders."
- Keith Waring, who is on the governance board, says that its principal, Cecelia Rogers 'has taken the vision, to raise the comprehension levels of the children and make sure they test above the Adequate Yearly Progress level under the federal No Child Left Behind initiative, and is succeeding,' he says.
- 'She's doing what you're not supposed to be able to do: to go into Gadsden Green and turn those children into exceptional students.'"
"Professionals that work downtown" are sending their children to a charter school located in Gadsden Green? Now THAT is news! And this school is meeting AYP while other downtown elementary schools are sinking? GOOD news! Funny, I haven't heard any complaints from the CCSD Board of Trustees about THIS charter school's draining students away from CCSD oversight.
I hope that others in District 20 are taking notes on how Ebenezer AME, Rogers, and the community have succeeded with this school. Visiting the school's website, I was struck by the following statement: " CDA incorporates, The Charleston Plan of Excellence, The Coherent Curriculum and The Core Knowledge Curriculum [italics mine] as the foundation teaching tools."
E.D. Hirsch, Jr.'s cultural literacy ideas have been controversial in educational circles for 20 years. I've always thought Hirsch makes sense, but I'm not an elementary school teacher. I do know that in San Antonio, Texas, several public elementary schools adopted this curriculum and met with success. Do any other elementary schools in CCSD use it?
You can check the curriculum out at http://www.coreknowledge.org/CK/index.htm .
CCSD Chief Academic Officer Graduates from Prestigious Urban Superintendents Academy
November 16, 2007
CHARLESTON – Chief Academic Officer Randolph Bynum has successfully
completed the prestigious Broad Superintendents Academy of the Broad
Center for the Management of School Systems. Mr. Bynum is one of only
eleven 2007 graduates nationwide of this rigorous ten-month executive
management training program.
“I am so proud of Mr. Bynum’s accomplishment. As our county’s academic
chief, who has already made such great contributions to our schools, this
experience will prove invaluable for him and for us,” said CCSD
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nancy McGinley, herself a graduate of the
inaugural Broad Academy class.
Otherwise known as an employment agency for those hoping to move up in the superintendent game. Seems to work. Wonder how long Mr. Bynum will be with us.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Believe that? Of course not. Only affluent American parents would raise such a fuss. Actually, the "homework wars" debate, which recently hit the consciousness of the P & C [see "Homework: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" in last Tuesday's Family Life section], has enjoyed several years on the radar screens of the Junior League and in neighborhoods of half-a-million-dollar and more households.
The Elizabeth Moffley quoted in former CCSD board member Fran Hawk's article receives credibility for her "anti-homework bullets" from identification as having run for state superintendent of education in 2006. Never mind that she lost the Republican primary (with a whopping 4.6% of the vote) and promptly endorsed Democrat Jim Rex, nor that various news sources can't decide how to spell her last name (Moffly?) or that, at least in 2006, two of her four children were in private schools. Her "arsenal" reads like the top 10 list of a late-night talk show host:
- Parents are not qualified or certified get judged for monitoring their children's homework; never been true
- Family values are compromised because children are too busy with homework to spend time with their families; or on other scheduled activities like football or soccer practice
- Homework is not in the school's jurisdiction because it's assigned for after-school hours; please!
- The schools that are charged with teaching democracy are acting as dictators. ah, yes, the democratic classroom!
- Children have a right to their childhoods and should be allowed time to let their minds wander. or watch television or play mindless video games
- As a compromise, Moffley suggests that homework be assigned as extra credit, with no penalty for the students who choose to ignore it. gee, I can think of penalties assigned by the real world
I don't know about you, but my favorite from the list is #5; or, maybe it should be #6--then with all that extra credit the child could pass on to the next grade.
Jay Mathews, a Washington Post staff writer, has researched the facts. Scholarly research from the University of Michigan "says the weekday average for 15- to 17-year-olds went from 33 minutes in 1981 to 50 minutes in 2003. Those teens, crushed by such punishing assignments, were recovering their sense of self and their need for play by spending on average two-and-a-half hours a weekday watching television or doing non-study-related computer activities [italics mine]." More likely in Moffley's neighborhood, playing video games or working after-school jobs to pay the insurance on their late-model cars. In a comparable report, the weekday average for grades 1 to 3 is 22 minutes, or as Mathews puts it, "less time than it takes to watch one episode of SpongeBob SquarePants."
Yes, students who take four or five AP classes may spend hours into the night on homework--or maybe not, depending on the student's ability and concentration. Kindergarten students can benefit by practicing their handwriting, and drill on multiplication facts can't be all bad for a third grader.
If a parent really believes that his or her child's homework load is problematic, that parent needs to sit down with the teacher or teachers involved to get to the bottom of the problem, not grouse with the neighbors nor spend time reading about the "homework debate."
Friday, November 16, 2007
In today's P & C McGinley hints of changes coming in administrative positions due to schools' failing performances on the state's report cards. Although the article points out that 25 schools are now rated "unsatisfactory," as usual the number is not put into context. That would be (roughly) a third of the county's schools.
Never mind that "more than half of the county's schools" have had their principals in place for less than three years, let's shuffle them again! That must mean those who have been in place for three years or more at unsatisfactory schools get to move, since McGinley promises a three-to-five-year window to prove effective leadership.
The dirty little secret is that the district has been preparing for this round of musical chairs. Schools such as Burke and North Charleston High that have been rated failing for six years MUST be restructured. No one expected a miracle to occur this year, and it didn't. The choices left to CCSD under NCLB are:
- replace all administrative professionals or
- bring in an outside agency to run the schools or
- make them into charter schools [yeah, likely] or
- have the state take over the schools [ditto].
Whatever changes McGinley makes, she will be held responsible now for the results. Well, that's assuming that three-to-five years down the road McGinley is still Superintendent.
Jordan's quoted comments pose an interesting dilemma for McGinley: she wants the Superintendent "to put those highly successful teachers [and principals] with students who need it the most," namely, those students in unsatisfactory schools where teacher turnover is high.
McGinley's got the power; does she have the guts?
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Recycling the past will help the future? Douglas was first elected chairman in 1989, eighteen years ago. He was on the Board starting in 1985. These were years when county schools continued unopposed in their downward slide.
What is the record in North Charleston, the area Douglas represents on the Board? Both North Charleston High School and Brentwood have records during his tenure that should cause nightmares. Has Douglas looked out for them in his 15 years on the Board?
Same old same old.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Let's begin with June of 2006. Burke was almost taken over by the State Department of Education, Inez Tenenbaum then Superintendent. It had failed to implement recommendations made by the state review board during the previous year. What happened next? Promises, promises! In fact, Mayor Joe Riley promised at the time to make (and I quote!) Burke "'a renowned national model for excellence.'" Goodloe-Johnson promised that, after a string of six principals over seven years, the new one would do the trick.
Barely three months later, the P & C (of all sources!) broke the scandal that Burke has been used as a dumping ground for troublemakers from other schools in CCSD. [See my posting of You Can't Make This Stuff Up! for details.] Is anyone on the school board following up on these questionable transfers? What percentage of Burke's students do not live in District 20? Do these transfers continue? How about telling us how many students who live in District 20 are bused to CCSD high schools in other parts of the county? Now, that number would be revealing.
Of course, in May of 2007 CCSD held its famous $77,000 meeting at Burke regarding the use of the Rivers High School building. During that meeting (and at various times since) CCSD has hinted that Burke may get an "AP Academy" or other speciality program. As it is, Burke doesn't even offer enough world language courses to qualify students for USC or Clemson, not to mention other deficiencies in its course offerings.
If plans exist to improve Burke, it appears now that the Superintendent will spring them by surprise upon the residents of District 20. Is she going to meet with District 20 constituents (especially PARENTS) to ask what they would like to see with the restructuring of Burke? Surely that's an important step that needs to be part of any restructuring!
Meanwhile, Burke has plenty of room in its practically-new building.
Why not take all those applicants to Academic Magnet who will be rejected for the coming year's class but meet the old generic standard and create a second "academic magnet" at Burke?
Don't like that?
Why not take all 75 students from Sea Islands YouthBuild Charter (who don't have a school building) and create a spectacular building trades program in the space at Burke?
Don't like that either? What about replicating some vocational programs now at Garrett and offering them at Burke?
Most importantly, what does the downtown community as a whole see as the best solution for Burke? And I'm not talking about NAACP officers who live west of the Ashley!
Friday, November 02, 2007
What a hardship!
Has anyone considered funding a complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of black downtown students? Sometimes I wish I had money.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
My question is: If the Summerville High School teacher charged with taking female students to his home and providing alcohol to them is 43 years old and the principal says he has been employed at Summerville for "about three years," where was he teaching before?
And what recommendations did the previous schools provide?