Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Worm Turns on Johns Island

What Charleston County Superintendent of Schools Nancy McGinley should have learned by now in the second round of School Redesign meetings is that CCSD is not now and never has been an urban district (a la Broad Institute). Despite the inroads of Yankee transplants into rural communities such McClellanville and Johns Island, the residents remain proud of their generations-long heritage and want to keep it.

So it should be no seven-day-wonder that the residents of Wadmalaw and Johns Islands have banded together to propose their own more sensible plan to redesign schools on the islands. [See Islands' Residents Offer School Plan.] If only the School Board would take notice.

The residents of District 20 downtown, including those who support the Charter School for Math and Science, are facing their own armageddon Tuesday night as they band together to rebel against the most convoluted and self-serving proposal of all. Let's hope all will be heard, not merely listened to.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To show how out of touch the superintendent and the board chairman are just look what they did when they were "threatened" by one of the "natives". Just as the meeting downtown began an elderly man rose from the audience and made a request. He wanted to dispense with CCSD's hour long (and extremely obtuse) pitch for one of the pre-arranged options. Since the district's options were widely known by now, he asked on behalf of the large crowd gathered to go straight to public comments. The crowd was restless and they had a lot to say in about yet another attempt by CCSD to "pack" their children in suitcases as if they were clothes. The wolf was at the door. Thirty minutes of public comments weren't enough to give CCSD a piece of D20's mind. This man spoke firmly, but respectfully requested that Roberts Rules be their guide. He was almost immediately rebuked by the authorities. They didn't want to loose control of what they felt could become a confrontational meeting...after all CCSD had placed more than three quarters of their planned cuts and savings on the backs of downtown schools and families.

Not wanting to loose control, the man was told to sit down by a shaken superintendent. The board chairman cowered behind others until uniformed city police officers had begun to escort the man up the aisle and out of the auditorium. When boos followed, McGinley threaten to cancel the meeting...more boos and louder.

Eventually CCSD settled down to do their scripted bidding among those they most fear and intensely dislike. Toadies like Thuane Fielding gave her first campaign address and Linard McCloud played the bored time keeper....always ready to screen out the James Island gate crashers.

There's nothing quite like CCSD's official hospitality: totally out of touch with reality.

No wonder our kids are lost downtown. While Charleston Day School students are greeted with handshakes upon arrival each morning, 3 blocks away, Memminger Elementary student get a high-five from a "too cool" adult (parent coordinator?) who can't speak to parents. If the administration hadn't notice, African-American kids have to look somewhere other than CCSD's schools to get a more mature or realistic view of the world. Entertain them but never provote them. Wouldn't want to stir their curiousity or have them question authority...like Wilmot Fraser.

As for the superintendent's over reaction to Wilmot Fraser's attempt to give the public orderly access to their elected leaders, McGinley obviously doesn't have any "feel" for the community. Maybe she's only been surfing over it all for the past 5 years.

Anyone who truly knows downtown schools (McGinley and Green don't) would have recognized Wilmot Fraser, Jr., as a gentleman, retired educator himself, dedicated school volunteer, mentor and supporter of public education within the city. How insulting to realize the superintendent and county board chairman didn't know who this man was before asking him to be escorted from the building by the police.

How quickly the superintendent forgets that Charleston's buildings (like Wilmot Fraser Elementary School) and our people are all connected.

And if this insult wasn't enough, the Burke band director abruptly cut off one speaker simply because she identified herself as a James Islander. Like the superintendent, Mr. McCloud doesn't live downtown either. Maybe he should save his bad manners for his neighborhood meeting in Mt. Pleasant...but then like James Island...the superintendent didn't think they needed a meeting like this.

How unconnected can these CCSD idiots be?