Friday, July 31, 2009

Top-Heavy CCSD Administration Salaries Hurt District

These people--Eliot Smalley and Audrey Lane--are so central to the Charleston County School District's success that they deserve raises to the six-figure bracket when teachers are being let go and class sizes are rising. That's how educrats like Superintendent Nancy McGinley think.

What ever happened to "victory begins in the classroom"? Just a slogan.

So points out Carol M. Peecksen, a retired CCSD English teacher, in a Letter to the Editor published Wednesday and titled "Raises Wrong." [See Letters to the Editor.] Peecksen was responding to an earlier editorial in the P & C that pointed out that CCSD now has 20 members in its "six-figure club." Not one of those is "in the classroom." Instead, those "in the classroom" have their salaries reduced with "furlough days."

As the prior editorial pointed out, "The raises should make those two employees happy. The district's other 5,374 employees are probably wondering what happened to theirs." Right. Especially since they too have been asked to perform additional duties.

Who on the School Board looks out for the little guy? Not Green, Jordan, Oplinger, Collins, Meyers, or Fraser! Those members were only too happy to go along with this idiocy. I wonder if those teachers and staff who voted for them are happy now?

Note: In one of those strange coincidences, Peecksen and I were classmates at St. Andrews Parish High School many years ago. No collaboration here--I haven't seen or talked to her in 23 years and didn't know she had retired.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

McGinley's Hard-Learned Lesson Detrimental to Sanders-Clyde

When something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

This is the lesson that CCSD Superintendent Nancy McGinley learned from MiShawna Moore's brief tenure as principal of Sanders-Clyde and, then, at McGinley's insistence and at the same time, as principal of Fraser Elementary. We'll never know exactly what happened during PACT testing there, but it would be hard to find any rational person who believes that nothing untoward did.

What is most troubling about the entire fiasco is what it reveals about the Superintendent's readiness to grasp at any straw to show how she has improved failing schools. This is not "for the children"; it is for the reputation of an educational professional planning to use CCSD as a stepping stone to bigger and better job opportunities.

Thus, while McGinley did not put Moore into her position at Sanders-Clyde, she was only too happy to receive its amazing test scores as a sign that her policies were working, to the point that she trusted a second school to Moore over the objections of many in the district. Why look a gift horse in the mouth?

Putting the best gloss on it requires some prevarication. [See Test-score Investigation Ended for her latest attempts.] The reality is that until the state testing agency brought to McGinley's attention that Sanders-Clyde's test copies showed unusual patterns of erasures, the superintendent never suspected or checked to see if the PACT scores tallied with other measures of performance for the school. The district had no choice about investigating once it was contacted by the state. Let's at least keep the record straight.

Given that no one has been disciplined or charged with any crime in the matter, what message has SLED (and the district) sent to other administrators desperate to polish their resumes by raising test scores in illegal ways? MiShawna Moore got an assistant superintendent's job out of it.

What did the kids at Sanders-Clyde get?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lowcountry Media Ignore Burwell and Waring

Is it true that Lowcountry audiences don't want to hear and don't care about missing women?

If you live in one of those all-news-all-the-time households (and I do), you have more than a sampling every day of what interests the news media and what doesn't. No, I should say that what the media cover reflects what the media believe their audiences want to hear.

Did we really want to see wall-to-wall coverage of Michael Jackson's accomplishments and pecadillos for a week and more? Was the passage of cap-and-trade ignored simply because it was too esoteric for our poor little pea brains to comprehend? Apparently the media thought so. Frankly, most of the time media act like lemmings. You need only switch from channel to channel during the nightly news to prove that.

Over a month ago, local media briefly noticed two local women: Teista Burwell and Katherine Waring. The first had been missing for almost two years, and the P & C picked up the story that she was finally put on a national missing persons data base. The second made the front page of the P & C only five days after she disappeared. Nothing since.

No doubt the P & C and local TV stations will say in their defense that they dropped the stories because no developments have occurred. Really? Well, then, why bombard us with repetitions of other stories without developments ad nauseum? Has anyone on the planet not heard of Governor Sanford's trip to Argentina?

I struggle to understand why media and police put such low priority on missing females age 18 and over. Every one of them is someone's daughter. Really, how much time would it take to provide updates on these cases to keep them in the public eye? Maybe Charleston should have its own version of America's Most Wanted.

Too many times the idea that adults have the right to disappear if they wish is used as an excuse to avoid the work of finding them. Too many times they're not found alive.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

CCSD Using Capital Assets for Operating Expenses

Too sanguine over the sale of property owned by the Charleston County School District--that's what the editors of the P & C are in claiming that "There is nothing to lose" from those sales. [See Sell Surplus School Property in Wednesday's editorial section.] Depends on what you mean by "nothing," I guess!

County residents should contemplate whether the district should have centrally-located schools or neighborhood schools. The first cut down on busing costs and wasting students' time being bused. The second allow parents, especially poorer ones, greater access to their children's teachers and a better environment for their children.

Further, older campuses paid for with public taxes should be readily available for the new public charter schools so desired by taxpayers. The Rivers building is a prime example. The present School Board is totally out of sync with public opinion, still smarting over Rivers' use by CSMS and still determined to stymie CSMS's success at every turn.

The P & C's just a bit too trusting of how the proceeds from capital asset sales will be used. No reputable business would take the proceeds from selling off capital and put them into the operating budget! So why does CCSD not deserve opprobrium for having done just that in the past? What is to stop it in the future?

Why shouldn't CCSD be required to put the proceeds from sales of capital assets back into the capital fund? Then maybe CCSD would not need to raise either of its taxes next time around.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Getting Around the Tax Laws, CCSD-Style

The CCSD equivalent of what brokers call "churning" an investment account for profit (the broker's, not the client's!).

Unable to continue to raise taxes for its overweight operating budget, CCSD has a better idea: sell off properties paid for with capital funds; put that money into the General Fund, where it can be used for operating expenses. Then raise taxes for the capital budget (building schools).

This is a scam that will never run out. Every few years new flaws can emerge in "old" school buildings that will demand that those buildings and the land they sit on be flogged in the real estate market and that new schools be built on cheaper (farther-out-of-city-center) land. Busing costs be damned!

Genius! Who cares if prices ebb? See Schools for Sale: Prime Sites to Be Listed in Monday's P & C.

"The Laing Middle School campus on Highway 17 will be the first to go on the market.

"'It's worth the most,' said Bill Lewis, executive director of the district's building program. 'We've already had numerous informal offers or expression of interest. … Even though the market is not great, there aren't many pieces of property like this left in East Cooper.'"