Thursday, December 11, 2008

Stand Up for McClellanville! Democracy at Work

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage at the dying of the light.

Maybe Dylan Thomas wrote about dying in this villanelle, yet it gladdens the heart to see that residents of McClellanville have chosen not to file meekly away into classrooms to fill out yet one more form to be ignored by CCSD. Instead on Wednesday night they attempted to create the actual public discourse that CCSD, and Superintendent McGinley in particular, dread and avoid at all costs in public meetings, school board meetings, and the like. [See School Officials Get an Earful in Thursday's P & C.]

"People wondered aloud when they would be able to talk in an open forum about the proposals that would close their schools. They walked up to the front of the room and asked to be heard, and [the paid facilitator] Robertson relinquished the microphone.

"Some questioned how they could give feedback now when they still didn't know the results of a previous community forum on the criteria that would be used to rank schools for closure."

Open forum! Imagine that.

What did McGinley learn at the Broad Institute? Apparently not that small communities take pride in their schools and see them as centering their communities. It certainly had not occurred to her that the black community in McClellanville first gave up its black schools for integration and is now being asked to give them up again--this time to melt into the woodwork at Wando and Cario. Trade a close-knit community for a number in a warehouse. Maybe 150 is too small for complete high school offerings, but 3300 is about three times too large!

The most closely-guarded secrets of 75 Calhoun include the number of high school students who live in the McClellanville district (District 1) and attend public high school elsewhere in CCSD. Even more top secret would be the racial mix of students that CCSD's School Board has allowed to transfer out of the district for "convenience." It stinks.

Despite the rantings in the P & C article's comments section, Lincoln High School is not a failing school; in fact, this year it earned a Good rating overall and in improvement. Does anyone seriously believe these students will be better off if they go to Wando?

On the other hand, land in McClellanville has rapidly risen in value in the last few years. Why, only a couple of blocks away from this school are million-dollar homes for sale. Why not tear down the school and build more of them? Maybe McClellanville can attract some more millionaires from New York. That seems to be the CCSD mindset.

Let's be practical. If it's all about saving money, Option 3 should be Option 1, the only option. It is the only one that makes any sense from every point of view. Middle schools, such as McClellanville and Cario too, are sinkholes of academics, regardless of the best efforts of all concerned.

A high school with Grades 7 through 12 is not unreasonable; such structures exist everywhere, in most cases to the benefit of students. More advanced eighth graders are able to take their "high school" credits such as Algebra 1 in high school. Doesn't that make sense? And why not put sixth graders in elementary school?

This option leaves McClellanville Middle School vacant. Selling it would be short-sighted. That would assume that Charleston County is not expanding in its direction. Look at its picture above. This should be torn down? And then in a few years, probably before today's middle-schoolers have graduated from high school, Bill Lewis or his replacement will come to the taxpayers with a proposal to build another multi-million-dollar school.

Still left unaddressed is the overcrowding at Wando and Cario. Golly gee, what about redrawing district lines? Given the number of students who cross them every day, at this point they exist for purposes of segregation only.

I wonder how much money has been spent renovating these schools in McClellanville over the last decade. Plenty, I'll bet. Got to keep those cronies busy.


Anonymous said...

Not that it matters, but someone has reported a MGJ sighting today. She was seen entering Bob Ellis on King Street. Do you think she's in town to advise her protoge on how to close schools with minimal public challenge? I'm not sure if this is true, but there's more than just a passing similarity in the methods (and madness) of these two Broad graduates.

Anonymous said...

Here's an example of what some of the public comments sounded like at the McClellanville meeting. They were far more polite than McGinley was. This one is from comments on the Post and Courier report:

Posted by dolphingirl on December 11, 2008 at 7:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm currently attending Lincoln High School as a junior. I would like to point out that Lincoln is not a segregated school! I can say this as a fact because I am a white student that goes there. Alot of points have been made concerning the closing of the school and why or why not that should happen. In my opinion, Lincoln is a good school. The one on one interaction between the students and teachers helps alot. Lincoln is in need of much improvement in areas such as better courses, better lunches, and better extracurriculars. Lincoln is in fact a passing school, and we did meet AYP. However, Wando did not. To tell you the truth, I think it's ironic that "they" say Wando has everything to offer us. At least once or twice a week I sit in the cafeteria and can look over and see a crowd of Wando students here taking carpentry. How can anyone say people at lincoln are racist? The crowd of Wando students that come to Lincoln are all black. Why won't white Wando students come here? Anyways, those students from Wando stare at us like we're ignorant kids and think we don't belong! (Even though it's our school.) Who is to say that won't be the case if you send us to Wando? How will we be treated at Wando, as students coming from Lincoln? We have to look at this issue from all viewpoints. If we get sent to Wando, how will this affect our GPA's? As a senior next year, how will this affect me and my peers? I believe in a 5th option. Why not integrate Wando students with ours? Why can't we bring Wando students here, and have Lincoln prosper? We have a small poulation, Wando is overcrowded and already needing another building to accomadate them. If CCSD's problem is money, why are they spending money to build a new school for them instead of funding Lincoln, and giving Lincoln better courses and better extracurriculars? Lincoln is said to be worse then Wando. If you think that, that is your opinion. It is true, however that Wando has more to offer concerning AP's and other courses. Send Wando's students here and we can "advance" just as much as they have. Why send students from a passing school to a failing school? (LINCOLN IS PASSING)How can people think it's right to send Lincoln students to Wando, but wrong to send Wando students to Lincoln?

Anonymous said...

CCSD has finally put its proposals on its web site. Thanks to the McClellanville residents for reminding CCSD to finally produce the data it promised them. Only problem is much of CCSD's data is junk. CCSD gives in painful detail a lot of numbers that relate to the same junk data and partial facts it's been using for years by gleaning the dozens of random reports and studies it continues to outsource with no coherent direction to where it’s going with them. We might want to offer a moment of silence in memory of all the trees that have given their lives for these expensive studies by countless outside experts.

On most pages of its charts there are tiny little numbers that are hard to see on their web site and impossible for the average citizen to print in any useful way.

Once a reader wades through it all, it is quickly discovered that CCSD has left out critical information regarding NCLB transfers, transfers of "convenience", magnet schools and charter schools. Then their report turns around and includes the same students and schools in related calculations without accounting for the differences.

Anonymous said...

It makes no sense to discuss school enrollment changes without discussing inter-district transfers. That's exactly why East Cooper and West Ashley parents need to be concerned. What happens to those students when CCSD decides to close down schools in other districts? We're not just talking about 150 students at Lincoln High School. The whole process has been to minimize the public's understanding of the bigger picture. What about asking students to be assigned to schools that would be more than 25 miles from their homes? For many this will not be a choice. What is being proposed sounds more appropriate for a rural county in Montana, not an urban community on the east coast. So what if the state is paying for the transportation! Even if SC taxpayers don't eventually complain about this waste (we are SC taxpayers, too), what about the cost in wear and tear on students forced to commute long distances because there is no choice?

CCSD is proposing to effectively shut down schools in McClellanville, downtown and on Johns, Wadmalaw and Edisto Islands. Where are these numbers on the separate reports it’s giving out? None of the reports for East Cooper and West Ashley schools reflect a redirection of so many new students to their already overcrowded schools.

Anonymous said...

Since MGJ and McGinley hate each other, I don't think MGJ was here to visit her.