Sunday, October 31, 2010

Vote in CCSD: Ascue, Moffly, & Taylor

Now that the P&C has followed my lead and reported that the Charleston NAACP does not support the sales tax increase (albeit in the quietest and least read part of the Sunday edition), it's time to get out the vote against the tax.

First of all, CCSD has put every conceivable project into its proposal, including the kitchen sink, in order to pander to as many groups as possible--it just hasn't worked with either the Charleston NAACP or GOP (Imagine, those two on the same side of an issue!).

Second, no guarantee exists that the new CCSD School Board will not pass a property tax increase on top of the sales tax if it does pass. It's also not clear that threats to impose a rise in property taxes as an incentive to vote for the sales tax are legal. One thing for sure: the sales tax falls most heavily on the poor.
Superintendent McGinley's manufactured seismic issues are the laughingstock of other neighboring districts. We don't need to follow the lead of the existing School Board, which, like a bunch of sheep, ratified changes trusting that the money would come from somewhere.
Finally, in the Board races where opposition exists, for whom do we vote? For those who dislike like the drift of the current Board or suspect Superintendent McGinley does not walk on water, the choices are poor, but obvious. Remember, we all vote for candidates in all districts!

In Mt. Pleasant,
  • Craig Ascue, who will probably kowtow to most proposals but at least is a native of the Lowcountry, attended CCSD schools, has served on the constituent board, and withholds judgment about the Superintendent; and

  • Elizabeth Moffly, who flopped in her run for S.C. Superintendent of Schools with some weird ideas but is the most likely not to lap up the Superintendent's words like a cat laps cream.
In West Ashley,
  • Mary Ann Taylor, who, as a retired CCSD teacher, knows the inside of CCSD better than anyone else in the race and opposes the sales tax increase.
In North Charleston,
  • None of the Above: Why bother to cast a vote here? Coats runs unopposed and spouts rhetoric that sounds like it was written by McGinley.

Friday, October 29, 2010

P & C Favors Higher Taxes over News

The Post and Courier wants you to vote "yes" on raising sales taxes in Charleston County. In fact, the news, not just the editorial page, has weighed heavily in that direction for the last week.
  • Item: Editorial explaining why readers should vote for the new sales tax.
  • Item: Prominently displayed Letter to the Editor by Joe Riley, Jr., praising the new sales tax.
  • Item: P&C reports that the NAACP is challenging cut-backs in CARTA service but withholds bigger news that the NAACP rejects the new sales tax.

Think that CCSD doesn't have the P&C in its back pocket? Think again.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

CCSD Superintendent's Hubris Is Showing

It's snowing down south. That's what girls said to each other when a slip was showing below a girl's skirt, back in the dark ages when girls wore slips.

Charleston County Schools Superintendent Nancy McGinley's slip, or to put it another way, her hubris, is showing. Such is the conclusion to be reached by her latest power grab in CCSD. While everyone else pays attention to Yes4Schools and potential new board members, McGinley quietly has asserted that she has the power to reschedule School Board meetings to suit her fancy.

What ever happened to the idea that the Superintendent serves the Board and not vice-versa? Does this mean that she now has the power to change meetings whenever she pleases? Will the Board change meeting dates to suit Board members' schedules in the future?

We're headed down a slippery slope. The Board needs to reassert itself and do its job as previously scheduled.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fun and Games at 75 Calhoun

They're laughing it up at the Taj Majal these days. It seems that Charleston County School Board member Elizabeth Kandrac sent in her evaluation of the superintendent by mail. Strangely, 75 Calhoun reports it was never received, so Kandrac's comments could not be used for the superintendent's evaluation this year. These would have been the only negative comments. The minions at the office suggest that she should have phoned to make sure it arrived.

Yeah, right. Blame the Post Office.

Word of advice to new board members, whoever you may be: if you disagree with the superintendent, sent everything by registered mail.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

"CCSD Is on a Roll"--Downhill?

The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce (CMCC) wants you to pay more taxes.

In fact, it wants you to pay more sales taxes, rather amazing considering that paying more sales taxes drives local customers more and more to the Internet. Probably we can assume the CMCC doesn't care about small businesses, just those standing to benefit from the massive construction projects supported by the Charleston County School District.

Such is the case with the op-ed commentary from Yes4Schools supporters J. Ronald Jones, Jr., and Patrick Bryant, a bankruptcy attorney based in Berkeley County and a video production services manager. They actually believe the propaganda put forth by Superintendent Nancy McGinley and her minions. What else could explain their opening statement that "Charleston County Public Schools are on a roll. Almost every day there are reports of impressive progress."

Gag me with a spoon. Surely they don't run their businesses with as little critical thinking.

They assert that "the buildings targeted by the referendum are on average 60 years old." Wouldn't you love to see the math on that one? Meanwhile, the list of schools needing major renovations and/or replacement includes Wando, West Ashley, and Academic Magnet High Schools.

Holy Toledo! When was the Academic Magnet building completed? West Ashley and Wando are how old?

If new school buildings were as closely correlated to student achievement as this duo suggests, Burke High School would be a model of progress today.

Meanwhile, nothing can stop the Charleston County School Board from voting to raise property taxes to cover district operating costs even if the sales tax passes. The sales tax won't pay for the district's most pressing concerns.

What turkeys.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CCSD's Sales-Tax Advisory Committee

Confident that the taxpayers will be stupid enough to pass an additional one-percent sales tax in two weeks, the Charleston County School Board has approved the creation of a Citizens Advisory Committee to "monitor and oversee the spending of money generated by the sales tax." According to the Board, this move "will build trust and credibility with the voters."

Sorry, I just fell off my chair laughing.

Sales tax or the threatened property tax if it fails: how about a serious audit to improve that trust and create some credibility?

Ask school board candidates for their views.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bait-and-Switch Wording on CCSD Referendum

Several years ago Charleston County Schools Superintendent Nancy McGinley promised to develop Lowcountry Tech at the old Rivers High School campus in order to stymie plans for the Charter School of Math and Science. Even weeks ago, McGinley reaffirmed this plan, though the success of CSMS has made potential quarters tight. She had to; otherwise, her sales tax push would have lost the endorsement of the NAACP.

Lo and behold! As the P&C has discovered, part of the referendum on the ballot next month indicates the "Renovation of and additions to the Rhett building at Burke High School campus for Lowcountry Tech Academy." Now McGinley is calling "Lowcountry Tech" a "catch-all term."

In truth, money for the renovation of the Rivers building for Lowcountry Tech has already been set aside. Not enough room exists there to hold all of the proposed tech classes as well as CSMS, which is adding a grade per year. By using Burke as well, McGinley ends up doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. Parents at Burke have clamored for more vocational classes for years.

But it is a case of "bait-and-switch" to use that wording on the ballot!

Monday, October 18, 2010

CCSD's Seismic School Workshops

District 20 taxpayers: mark your calendars.

According to a notice sent from the Charleston County School District administration to the Board of Trustees and the District 20 Constituent Board members, the project team for the four downtown "seismic schools" will meet with "City Staff members" Tuesday and Wednesday of this week at the Civic Design Center at 85 Calhoun. No time given.

Community meetings for these four schools are scheduled for October 26 and 27 "to get feedback from the community regarding their issues."

They want to hear "issues"? Please give them an earful.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wilcox: McGinley Cheerleader for CCSD Board

Second in a series on candidates for the Charleston County School Board of Trustees. Craig Ascue was profiled earlier this month.

Everett Wilcox knows Charleston County as well as you can expect of someone who retired and moved to I'On in 2003.

As a lawyer for IBM, Wilcox specialized in outsourcing after a long career as a corporate attorney. He and his wife have been involved with nonprofits as early as the Atlanta Olympic Games and with Democratic politics at least since his early support of Jimmy Carter for President in 1976. Though of the generation that saw service during the Vietnam War, Wilcox avoided the draft by remaining in school throughout the period from 1962-66 (Bachelor's degree), 1966-68 (Master's degree) and 1968-1971 (law degree).

Evidently, Wilcox is a product of the schools of Clearwater, Florida, has never had a child in CCSD (or in any public school that we know of), and never showed any interest in CCSD until "friends" encouraged him to run for one of the Mt. Pleasant seats on the Board.

While none of the above disqualifies Wilcox from a seat on the Board, you have to wonder just what viewpoint he will bring to the table. Thanks to the P&C's softball questions last month, you don't need to wonder: McGinley Cheerleader fits the man nicely.

Here's a sample:
  • "Dr. McGinley is doing an excellent job after inheriting a district with financial constraints, facility issues, and years without superintendent leadership." Was there ever a district without financial constraints? Did McGinley create her own "facility issues"? Is Wilcox slamming Goodloe-Johnson or merely repeating what one of his "friends" has said?
  • "Decreased federal and state funding make it more difficult to catch-up previously underserved students." What decreased federal funding?
  • "Much of my time as an IBM executive was spent dealing with substantial budget cuts because of the economy" Yes, but outsourcing is unlikely to solve this problem.

Gregg Meyers's doppelganger.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

CCSD's Meyers: Never Saw a Lottery He Didn't Like

Hold onto your seats. Exiting Charleston County School Board member Gregg Meyers has determined to leave his mark on the admissions process for every magnet school in CCSD.

Academic Magnet High School: this means you.

Meyers, meeting tomorrow, will railroad his CCSD Policy Committee into confirming a lottery process for any students in excess of capacity of any magnet program. With stars in his eyes and at one fell swoop, Meyers creates a Buist-style lottery for every popular magnet program in the district. No more merit-based admissions.

Remember? the old smoke and mirrors game for the favored few?

But wait! There's more!

The new policy will promote racial diversity by allowing the use of zip codes rather than race as criteria.

Let the jockeying for position begin.

You may now understand why Meyers has chosen to leave after this term. You may also understand why CCSD continues to violate open-meeting laws as it considers these changes.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Ironic PE Grants to Charleston County Schools

The Charleston County School District has been awarded $825,ooo over the next three years to develop better physical education programs at eight of its more impoverished schools. [See Schools Awarded Federal PE Grant.]

Despite delight at welcoming our own tax money back (minus bureaucratic overhead), let's remember what physical exercise CCSD chooses not to promote, namely, walking to school. The timing of announced grant drips with irony, since this week is "Walk to School Week."

Given its policies over the last decade involving transfers, magnets, and mega-school buildings, not to mention chicken-little policies regarding earthquakes, CCSD has done its part to see that as many students as possible ride a bus to school. Local developers and city councils have cooperated by avoiding the expense of sidewalks. In many cases, students would take their life into their hands to walk along well-traveled roads without sidewalks, even when the distance is short.

Believe it or not, walking to school is good exercise too. It doesn't take federal tax dollars, either.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Suspicion About Excess CCSD Books

Surely someone besides me wonders if the 15,000 books being used have any value still in the classroom:

See A Monster Pile of Books in Tuesday's P&C.

Does this beat piling them in the dumpster?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Craig Ascue, CCSD School Board Candidate

It's not accidental that Ascue's Paint and Body Shop sits near Charlotte Jenkins's Gullah Cuisine restaurant on Highway 17. That excellent caterer and chef happens to be Craig Ascue's aunt.
Ascue is one of three choices voters have in November for the two East Cooper seats on the Charleston County School Board of Trustees. Ascue's small business was begun by his father and passed to Craig as manager in 1996. Craig himself has a B.A. in Marketing from South Carolina State University.
Now, 14 years later Ascue aspires to move from the East Cooper constituent board to the "big time."
It's worth taking a closer look at Ascue's responses to the P&C's softball questions in its September 22th article on the school board candidates.
First of all, Ascue, unlike one of his opponents, Everett Wilcox, chooses not to grade Superintendent McGinley before being elected to the Board. Instead Ascue states, "At this time, I am not in a position to rate the superintendent." Politically saavy, perhaps, but a bit weasely.
Not surprisingly, Ascue hones in on "literacy" as the biggest problem facing the district, but his suggesting that having 43,000 students as its "biggest asset" doesn't make a whole lot of sense. How about its tax base, its buildings, its administration, its teachers?
For his goal if elected, Ascue echoes other candidates who all say, one way or another, that they will "work to ensure that all children have an opportunity to obtain a quality education." How about some specifics?
Let's face it. Not much in this article tells the reader whether or not to vote for Ascue. Does he approve of public charter schools? Is he, for example, in favor of the six-year one-percent increase in the sales tax to fund the building program? Would he vote for a property tax increase if it fails?
How about, would he support a full-scale audit of CCSD's books?
Now, these answers would be of real interest to the voters. Too bad the P&C is too chicken (0r too corrupt) to ask them.
Remember, everyone votes on the East Cooper seats, not just those living in that area.