Friday, February 26, 2010

For That Imminent Earthquake, Why Wait Till Summer?

CCSD and its School Board don't care about the lives of students, teachers, and staff!

How else to explain leaving so many students at risk for dying in an earthquake until this summer? [See Quake Fears to Shutter Schools?]

Why, that means we have to worry about this catastrophe for another four months.

It could happen any day, any hour, any minute!

Where is the Superintendent's common sense?

This is a lawsuit waiting to happen!

And we thought Toyota was bad!

Why hasn't Bill Lewis reported her stubbornness to the proper authorities?

Parents should pull their children out of these unsound schools immediately.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Everything Old Is New Again

I don't often chortle at the breakfast table as I read the daily news from the P&C, but Monday morning's news was an exception.

Diagramming on the whiteboard! Studying prefixes as a way to learn vocabulary. And this is teaching English as a Second Language to those whose native language is English?

What next? Expecting ninth-graders to be able to read? [See Giant Strides.]

Dorchester 2 Deputy Superintendent Barbara Stroble points out, "It's the old way we used to teach English." Pathetically, the cadre of teachers who already know how to teach this approach steadily shrinks as they retire. Apparently that is why "The training for each teacher costs more than $1,000, and the kits for students are $60 each."

Wouldn't you love to know what's in those "kits" that's worth $60?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Exciting Ideas Without the Edublob

This week's article on the poetry recitations at Chicora Elementary [see Finding the Poet Inside] should remind everyone that inspiring children does not require specialized programs or technology sold by the edublob.

A creative teacher can take this blossoming interest in poetry and run with it in so many educational ways.

Partial magnets aside.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Intended Consequences of the PASS

In case you missed this Letter to the Editor of the P&C in Wednesday's edition. There's nothing unintended about what he has identified:

PASS test

I am surprised by the lack of outrage over South Carolina's change to the PASS test and dramatic lowering of standards for measuring school success. It's sad that these changes are made to make the historically failing schools appear to be adequate, but, further, it strips away from mostly poor, rural students the freedom to attend a better school. These students already face the greatest challenges to quality education.

It was stated that the PACT had to change because it was too hard to pass. South Carolina had only to meet 50 percent of the proficient and advanced goal of No Child Left Behind to pass.

On top of that, Historically Underachieving Group scores are adjusted significantly to help meet the requirement. When schools still couldn't meet the requirement for two years in a row, students were allowed to transfer to better performing schools. This program was a godsend to many families who couldn't afford private school tuition (the only other school choice option in many parts of South Carolina).

Now with the PASS Test, these historically failing schools will meet the NCLB requirements and thousands of children will lose this opportunity. The PASS test was established strictly to increase the number of schools meeting Adequate Yearly Progress.

This was done because federal funding is tied to these scores. But the state needs to recognize that students benefitted tremendously from this program. If the test is changed just to meet federal requirements, then enrollment needs to be opened up within school districts. Trapping students in schools that are not equitable to nearby schools because of arbitrary attendance lines is unfair.

South Carolina needs to do what is best for each individual child, not what is easiest to administer. This recent change is not in the best interest of the children of South Carolina.

Romain Road

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Why So Unattractive?

Thinking that the P&C must have photographed the new Sanders-Clyde from its most unattractive angle, I checked out the building myself this morning. [See Sanders-Clyde School Ready for Reopening in Sunday's edition.] After all, in the photo it looks like a maximum-security prison.

No, it turns out that this is one of the few angles where the mud-colored brick cannot be seen.

For an "arts-infused" school, is there any reason why it must be so ugly? Surely $26 million could have purchased design more pleasing to the eye!

Let's hope that inside it's more appealing.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Step Forward for Teaching Knowledge

For those of you who wonder why students don't seem to "know" anything about their world, many like me would cite the lack of a common core of knowledge that is taught along with reading.

Thus, the news from the Core Knowledge Foundation is great: "After more than two decades of publishing and distributing its K-8 Core Knowledge Sequence exclusively to Core Knowledge schools, the Foundation is planning to make its proprietary curriculum available for free online."

This breakthrough comes at a time when the Common Core State Standards are about to be released. The Core Knowledge website will be relaunched at the end of February. To read more, go to The Core Knowledge Blog.

Stay tuned.

Monday, February 08, 2010

CCSD Security Systems Result of Tax System

Probably more than a few readers of Monday's P&C are wondering how the Charleston County School District can afford to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on new security systems when cuts are proposed everywhere else--involuntary teacher and staff furloughs, proposed shorter school years, etc. [See Schools Plan to Update Visitor-security System.]

Is this the most important use for taxpayer money? Of course not. CCSD is doing it because it has the money.

It's the difference between the capital and operating budgets. The capital budgets have been largely unaffected so far by changes in funding for South Carolina's schools (hence the Taj-Mahal-like buildings you see all over the county and now its state-of-the-art security systems).

Teachers' salaries come out of the operating budget.

Such inequities show how flawed the system is. Recently proposed changes in the legislature are practically guaranteed to make the discrepancy worse.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Summerville Teacher Speaks on Literacy

Wish more teachers had the chance to post letters to the editor (of the P&C) like this one. Given the zeitgeist in the Charleston County School District, the likelihood of hearing from one of them remains low.

Unearned promotions cheat students

Sunday, February 7, 2010

When it comes to education, South Carolina continuously finds itself placed at or near the bottom, and yet South Carolina educators are looking to require fewer credits needed for graduation and to eliminate school days. Instead of cutting education, state legislators should focus on what needs to be done to strengthen South Carolina's educational system.

As a state, we might have some of the toughest educational standards and difficult standardized assessments, but have we looked at how students are performing against those standards and assessments?

I teach in a district where students continuously perform below those standards and are still pushed through to the next grade, where eighth-graders are reading and writing on fifth-grade levels. We need the state Legislature and department of education to start requiring districts to accept responsibility for the low performance of students.

Why are eighth-graders passed on to high school when they haven't demonstrated the ability to meet most of their middle school standards?

We are too worried about being politically correct and not hurting anyone's feelings to realize that we are sending students into the workforce unprepared.

We are sending a negative message to our students.

Blame the communities, the parents, the circumstances beyond our control all you want, but the fact of the matter is, we have the power to set a standard. And it might be rough at first, but once the standard is set, people start to conform to it.

Hold back the students who don't perform and give them the help they need because in the long run, what's worse -- promoting a student without any skills, or forgetting about feelings and political correctness and giving them a chance at a bright future?

Stacy Zeiger


Eighth Grade ELA/English 1

Wampee Curve


Thursday, February 04, 2010

McGinley "Needs" Fifth Associate Superintendent

Five and counting.

That's how many associate superintendents are now in the Charleston County School District, thanks to Superintendent McGinley's needs. [See McGinley Creates New Leadership Position in Thursday's P&C.]

With so many chiefs, McGinley can sit back to watch; when programs fail, she can blame them.

There seems to be no hiring freeze for bureaucrats, just for teachers and staff. Just maybe there's some better use for those Title 1 funds.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

CCSD Board To Appeal Charter School Ruling

Falls in the same category of news as "Sun rises in east." Ditto on the 6-3 vote. [See Board to Appeal Charter Ruling in Tuesday's P&C.]

The Board majority seems to have also written the article.