Monday, June 21, 2010

Oh, Duh! So That's the Reason

What would CCSD and its superintendent do without the P&C and its articles on literacy (that is, the lack of it) in the district?

Apparently, according to a story in Monday's edition, they would still be scratching their heads and puzzling over why so many students fail the state English language arts exit exam! [See Exam Illustrates Literacy Hurdles.] It seems that "two-thirds of the Charleston County high school students who flunked the state English language arts exit exam entered high school unable to read better than a fourth-grader."

In fact, according to the article,
"Of the 447 students who failed, officials could find the eighth-grade reading scores for 329 students. More than 30 percent of those students read on a fourth-grade level, while 20 percent read on a third-grade level. Twenty percent were either on a beginner, kindergarten, first- or second-grade reading level. Only 3 percent of the students who failed read on a ninth-grade level or better."
Ask yourself this question: how did more than 60 students failing the exit exam get through high school (presumably passing their English classes) when their eighth-grade reading scores showed that they "were either on a beginner, kindergarten, first- or second-grade reading level."

Scary, isn't it?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Burke's Sinking on CCSD's Rising Tide

Longtime readers of this blog will remember that two or three years ago we discovered that principals at suburban high schools such as Wando and West Ashley were encouraging their most unruly students to go to Burke High School rather than be expelled. Reports in the P&C [see Literacy Rates Show Improvement ] now show that in a gently rising tide of literacy, Burke is sinking.

CCSD uses the scores of this year's eighth-graders to predict the percentage of students entering each high school who cannot read. Notice I said "who cannot read." While I recognize that reading on a fourth-grade level constitutes literacy, it does not translate into being able to read a high-school textbook, even the ones that are written on a sixth-grade level (yes, they are out there to meet the demand).

With CCSD's loose transfer policies (the same ones that created de facto segregation at Burke), an inquiring reader wants to know how many seventh graders transferred out of Burke Middle last year in order to escape its chaos. They would be the ones who could read. How many transferred in from other middle schools who couldn't?

Until CCSD tracks each student and uses those statistics, the game as she is played will not tell the true story.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Want SC to Be Laughed at? Vote for Moffly

Hard. Soft.

That's what the choice between Nick Zais and Elizabeth Moffly boils down to. [See 2 in Schools Runoff Vastly Different]

Now, I don't know either of these candidates and actually believe that the State Superintendent of Education should be appointed by the governor. (Well, those running for governor talk about improving the schools--how are they going to do it?)

Nevertheless, some stark facts stand out when comparing these two.
  • One graduated from West Point and has a doctorate; the other never finished college.
  • One wants to improve safety and behavior in the classroom; the other says she had children in public schools for 15 years but doesn't state the reason for homeschooling them now.
  • One is interested in more transparent accounting of dollars spent on education; the other hasn't managed to file the campaign finance report that was due more than two weeks ago.
Did I say that one candidate wants to reduce the number of credits required for graduation, that is, water down SC's diplomas?

Gee, I wonder which one that could be.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

LOL: CCSD's Teacher In-Services

Unsurprisingly, the Charleston Teacher Alliance yearly survey shows that teachers in CCSD believe their taking pay cuts as a result of five furlough days has been chosen as the easy way out to cut spending. [See Teachers Don't Want Furloughs in Wednesday's P&C.]

I'm still wondering about Superintendent McGinley's extra monthly stipend received ever since gasoline was over $4 per gallon. Just pro forma, of course, but why doesn't she show her sincerity by giving it up?

Meriting the old horse laugh, however, is the preference of 60 percent of teachers surveyed who would rather take furloughs on teacher in-service days rather than on teacher workdays. They probably wonder about the sanity of the other 40 percent.

f you've ever experienced one of these in-services (covered earlier on this blog), you know how useful they usually are.


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

DD2's Obfuscation of Events?

Sometimes the reported facts don't add up.

Take the case of the Summerville High School teacher who was recently charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a student at Summerville High. The salacious details of sexting have been all over the news. [See FormerTeacher Faces Charge in Tuesday's edition of the P&C.]

Apart from the mind-boggling situation with a 25-year-old's behavior, one part of the report does not ring true:
Banner had been at Summerville High for three years but had opted not to continue her contract after the current session ended, said Pat Raynor, public information officer for Dorchester District 2. The district is conducting its own investigation of Banner, she said.
Banner thus has been a "former" teacher for a matter of days, not weeks. Misleading headline.

Any teacher will tell you that no teacher in her right mind would give up a job at a school like Summerville High when she was about to get tenure. That is, this was her third year of teaching. If she were to teach there next year, she would have tenure.

Of course, we could argue that since she was not in her right mind over 16-year-old boys, she was not in her right mind in general.

We could, but the most likely scenario is that she was not offered a contract for next year.

Why? Does Pat Raynor know more than she is saying? How about a little transparency?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Languages? Go Charter!

Followers of this blog know how much South Carolina lags behind in the study of foreign languages, or, as they are known today, world languages. What a delight to hear that a group of West Ashley parents not only feel the same but are willing to jump through the hoops to do something about it! [See Charter School in Works in Monday's P&C.]

The success of this private preschool that hopes to transform itself into a public K-4 charter school is addressed by parents interviewed:
Parents such as Tamara Heck say they are pleased with the education their children have received and want that to continue. Heck is a member of the charter school's organizing effort, she said her 5-year-old son is reading on a first-grade level, adding and subtracting, using computers daily, and speaking in Spanish.
Why should such a good education be available only to those whose parents can afford to pay private tuition? If the established public schools won't provide these opportunities for all children, then charter schools should fill in the gaps. It's all very well to state that the present schools are improving, but that's not soon enough for the children who could take advantage of these challenges right now.

Another member of the organizing committee of the proposed school, Alicia Brown, stated, "We just want our kids to be more equipped to be able to go out in the world and to be equipped to apply for jobs locally and internationally."

Speaking from personal experience, I can assert that Brown is thinking ahead of the curve for these children. Both of my grown children, who speak several languages each, have been able to avoid unemployment in down economic times by having that extra qualification!

The Southeastern Elementary Institute of Global Studies deserves support.