Thursday, May 07, 2009

Burke AP Academy = Honors Track

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

In this case, however, the name is reputation. In an effort to "rebrand" Burke High School, present Principal Charles Benton committed to an "AP Academy." [See AP Academy at Burke High School] and CCSD committed $250,000 to develop it. However, "The Charleston County School Board initially budgeted $250,000 for the new program, but the school received only a portion of that, which was enough to hire two extra teachers and provide bus transportation for its students."

Is there some reason why the P & C couldn't report how much of the original amount was spent this year? Well, Benton hoped for 100 students, so the budget must have assumed $2500 per student. Since only 30 enrolled (and 25 are left), at the same spending rate the program would have cost $75,000. It seems unlikely that two teachers and bus costs were that inexpensive, but maybe.

Frankly, I applaud the reinstituting of an honors track at Burke; I just don't see why it has to be a special program. I find it hard to believe that Burke didn't already have teachers who could teach at pre-AP level.

But $2500 per student!

Mr. Benton, how about your students (and you know you have them) who can't read? Where are the priorities?


Anonymous said...

Are the courses named in the article actual AP courses leading to an AP exam? Too often schools will call something an AP course when it should be called something else.

It was sad to read about the McClellanville student who has to travel so far to enroll in courses like this. Until this past year Lincoln High School offered AP courses. It sounds like there are consequences when the administration decides what schools get advanced placement and college prep courses and which ones loose theirs. Unfortunately the burden of those consequences rests on students and their families.

I agree, I thought every high school was supposed to have AP courses as part of their core curriculum. Obviously some schools are more equal than others in the eyes of the superintendent and the chief academic officer.

Babbie said...

It appears that the freshman level courses are pre-AP courses. For example, AP English is not usually attempted before the junior year. AP Calculus usually not before the senior year. However, the students need high-powered courses prior to those years to get them to the level where they will succeed in real AP courses. AP calls it "Vertical Teaming." I hope that's what's going on at Burke. It should be at every high school.

Anonymous said...

I agree a legitimate AP track should be available at every high school.

So now we might ask why the Superintendent took this kind of program away from Lincoln High School where I suppose they were already "Vertical Teaming" until 2 years ago. Now Lincoln is just another public high school aspiring to become "average" offering what is called "adequate".

Not that any of this is Lincoln or the McClellanville community's fault. Like so much that goes on within CCSD, ending the Lincoln AP program was an administrative decision made at 75 Calhoun St with no community buy-in.

Anonymous said...

Never mind the spin CCSD is doing around Burke. (Of course they want us to forget the kids CCSD failed to teach how to read or make change. If I was a Burke parent, and I know a few, I would sue!) There's a much bigger pot coming to a boil that CCSD wants to hide.

It seems the African-American community has been asked to shoulder more than just the closing of schools and the loss of successful programs. According to Michael Bobby (he's CCSD's chief financial officer who makes over $150,000 a year, plus perks) the small class sizes in some of our most at-risk schools will also be a thing of the past next year. Parents can expect at least 28 (possibly 32) kids per class in the elementary and middle school levels. The way they play with the numbers, the figure could be even higher than that.

One of the best things going for some of these neighborhood schools has been their small class sizes. Now they are being closed because their enrollments don't match their size. OK, the communities bit the bullet and eventually accepted that cuts could be made in overhead and administration by closing smaller schools. Now we're learning the class sizes will be greatly enlarged at the new schools their children will be bussed to next year. If that's not enough, CCSD is planning to put the overflow in leased trailers on these newly combined campuses. Of course their old schools will be shuttered and allowed to deteriorate.

It now seems after CCSD creates so many overcrowded classrooms on campuses packed with trailers, they will unveil their newest 5 year master plan for hundreds of millions in new construction which will require a public referendum. How evil can they get? It will be as if Bill Lewis and the build-new-at-any-cost crowd intend to hold these children hostage. CCSD, the superintendent and the board will then tell the parents their children will be set free only if they vote for a new bond issue and higher taxes. Of course the words on the ransom note will be different, but the intent will be the same.

How much more will these communities take in the name of cutting costs? Closed schools, good programs lost and larger classes? Where are the cuts in the administration?

During the budget hearings it's being told ever so indirectly that more cuts are coming to schools that mostly serve rural communities and minorities. Despite the endless promises being made, as before, very few will ever be made whole even when the economy bounces back. Just like it's always been.

Who will ask the superintendent to show how any of this is fair, equitable or makes sense? Like playing the numbers on the real value of scholarships, there's never going to be any transparency from this crowd.