Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sore Loser Rex on Education Funding

He didn't win his bid for governer, not even close. Now he's leaving office as SC's Superintendent of Education. You noticed how much it improved on his watch, didn't you?

Jim Rex has been quite vocal in recent weeks regarding the shortcomings of those who won. Today's latest gripe was about losing federal funds.

As one SC senator pointed out, we need to clean up the mess created by miserably written bills passed in the Congress. Did they read them before voting? Probably not.

You lost, Jim. Give it up.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Preparation Essential to Burke's AP Success

At Burke High School's much-touted AP Academy, only one of 103 AP exams resulted in success last year. Very sad for the students, but hardly surprising.

Preparation for Advanced Placement classes starts in middle school if students have a hope of being successful in gaining college credits. Say what you like about the faults of Advanced Placement, the fact remains that no amount of bluster and spin by local superintendents can sway the results: either the students qualify according to this national standard, or they don't.

Why the Charleston County School District's efforts at creating the AP Academy at Burke High School should have cost $200,000 is something of a mystery. Are these expenses for additional teachers, new books and materials, or training for teachers? Thanks to CCSD's lack of transparency, we'll never know. However, it is not a mystery why only one out of 103 tests were passed.

The number of dollars dedicated to AP will not guarantee success. No amount of money will compensate for poorly prepared students facing the rigors of such courses. Not the most inspired teaching and/or dedicated studying will compensate if students are too poorly prepared entering the course. No books or materials will make up the gap between what should have been learned prior to the course and the actual AP course content.

Poorly prepared students will learn in the AP course, just not enough to qualify on a college level. Success on the AP exam does not require brilliance; it requires a certain level of competence entering the course and rigor and student dedication during the course. With more than a dozen years of AP teaching under my belt, I speak from experience.

CCSD for its own propaganda purposes started at the wrong end of the horse with Burke High School's AP Academy. At the latest AP prep should begin in the seventh-grade at Burke's feeder schools. Such preparation will require a Pre-AP track (gasp!), an anathema to the politically correct like Superintendent McGinley.

Then the question becomes, does she want a successful program at Burke or one just for show?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Refurbish the Taj While Teachers Furlough?

As if we didn't know where the priorities stand at 75 Calhoun, the Charleston County School District offices, Superintendent McGinley made it crystal clear Monday night with her request to double the amount being spent on renovations with another $135,000.

Do you think she's surprised at the controversy that arose? Maybe it was just a test to see how far she could push the new board members.

In other news. . . almost $100,000 per school will be spent on "surveillance and access-control technology," taking our local tax dollars and adding to them our federal tax dollars.

Does that strike you as a tad expensive? Don't you wonder who gets that contract?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Vagueness on High School Diploma Credits

Instead of ranting against the reporters at the P&C, for a change I must take issue with one for the Associated Press. Never mind that the state legislative beat remains uncovered by our local rag.

A prefiled bill for the next House session creates a two-tiered diploma for South Carolina. One track would require 24 credits for those planning on college, and one require 20 credits for those not. Ostensibly, this is a cost-cutting measure, although it may turn out to be good policy.

So far, so good, as far as reporting goes.

But wait. Which four credits are deemed unnecessary by this bill? Nary a word. Is this a secret, or does the reporter (Seanna Adcox) show a remarkable lack of curiosity?

You decide.

Monday, December 06, 2010

75 Calhoun at Fault; Not CCSD Principals

Are they too protective of their jobs to say so?

Why should CCSD's high school principals track the movements of students who graduated from their feeder middle schools so that they can calculate graduation rates? This information should be supplied by the district administration. They are the ones who know who was in CCSD eighth grades!

Still, it is remarkable that only one-third of students from feeder schools for West Ashley actually graduate from that high school.

Funny. That was about the graduation rate for St. Andrews 50 years ago when school attendance was not required.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

CCSD: No Teachers' Advice on Test Scores

A yearly survey by the Charleston Teacher Alliance has discovered that the majority of its responding teachers do not want to be judged by a single multiple-choice test of their students. So reports the P&C in Saturday's edition.

The Charleston County School District has not seen fit to conduct its own survey of all classroom teachers whose students take such tests.

Why not?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Speaker Harrell: Transparency Starts in CCSD

What a great idea House Speaker Bobby Harrell has: require public colleges in South Carolina to post all expenditures on line--transparency!

WAIT! Doesn't that idea sound familiar?

Of course. The same was proposed for CCSD by David Engelman when he was a member of the Charleston County School Board. They were going to "look into it," although 75 Calhoun anticipated too many problems and expenses would probably be involved.

Yeah, right.