Sunday, February 27, 2011

CCSD Salaries on Line

Yes, it's true. The salaries of anyone employed by the Charleston County School District who makes over $50,000 are available to the public, much to Superintendent McGinley's chagrin, no doubt.

Is there anyone besides McGinley who believes that her leadership of the district is worth over $200,000 per year plus benefits? Especially when she has several associate superintendents to do her job who each make over $100,000?

Sooner or later it adds up to real money.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bellyaching About CCSD Parents Unhelpful

Parental attitudes make all the difference for a child.

Who could argue with such a self-evident statement? Not I. How about this one:

Parental attitudes make all the difference for a child's educational attainment.

If the second proposition were also true, the quality of the child's school would not matter. Children of involved parents would achieve in direct proportion to the level of involvement; those of noninvolved parents would not.

Like it or not, the Charleston County School System has the responsibility to give the child of noninvolved parents a fair shot at achievement. CCSD's hand-wringing over parents who do not meet their responsibilities, such as attending CCSD's informational sessions on plans for North Charleston's high schools, will fix neither schools nor student reading levels, nor will it cause those parents to become more involved.

The playing field will never be even for those unlucky children, but schools must find ways to level out the most obvious mountains and potholes. Complaining about parents who do not show up to argue about a decision that has already been made (McGinley's sessions are aimed at parental 'buy-in') shows the emptiness of the glass of fixes sitting on the Superintendent's desk.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Superintendent Discovers Useful Social Media

Look out world!

The Charleston County Schools Superintendent has discovered that social media make effective propaganda. Now you can learn about CCSD's 100 percent success rate through interfaces such as Facebook and Twitter.

Step aside, P&C.

Or perhaps consider reporting aspects other than McGinley's press releases. People might even buy the paper.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Superintendent in Reverse: Watch Out

It isn't pretty.

Reacting to the community firestorm over combining Stall and North Charleston High Schools, Charleston County Schools Superintendent McGinley has put that proposal on hold "for a year." Now she claims to want community input, so here comes another PR campaign, no doubt complete with community representatives.

As long as she was in reverse, she decided to scotch the plan to assign principals to head more than one school. Maybe a few have figured out where that leads (remember a school named Fraser?).

Meanwhile, a Board of Trustees subcommittee has wisely decided to take back its proposed plan to keep students captive in their designated sending districts.

Wait for the other shoe to drop. The next step will be cuts to the budget that will be even less palatable.

None of them will involve McGinley's rejecting last year's raise or her travel budget or burgeoning staff. Why do I surmise that teachers will get hit again?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Combine & Conquer: One Less Failing School

The superintendent of the Charleston County School District is ready to do anything she can think of to fix North Charleston's high schools except what would actually work!

This comes as no surprise to McGinley-watchers, but the boldness of her latest move merely confirms that the superintendent, and not the elected Board of Trustees, is in control of what happens in CCSD. Why not? She has a ready contingent of bootlickers, including the education reporter for the P&C, who are willing to consent to any lamebrained scheme she throws at them as long as it comes replete with educational jargon--and a promise to get funds from the state .

Given the state (no pun intended) of South Carolina's budget, I wouldn't hold my breath on that one.

Basically, McGinley is giving her lackeys two weeks to determine the futures of 1500 high school students who are zoned for Stall and North Charleston High Schools. Despite their being no evidence that combining the two and separating the grade levels as she proposes has ever improved graduation rates anywhere, this is her solution to their on-going problems, many of which her own policies have created.

For example, how many magnet high schools are located near these two high schools?

She complains that parents actually choose to send their children to magnets!

Infuriatingly, three years ago millions were spent on upgrading North Charleston High School so that it could meet the needs of its 9-12 students, including career and technology aspects. Now she wants to can that and make it for improving reading and math skills for 9th and 10th graders only. And the technology and career improvements will need to be made (and paid for again) at the NEW Stall High School, which unbelieveably costs much more to run than its old 1960s building.

Explain that one.

Not even McGinley knows all this movement, change, and busing will improve these schools.

Hello. Common sense suggests that until both schools get a handle on discipline (and, in particular, the discipline of the unreasonably high number of students who have I.E.P.'s), nothing will change.

Truth is--because these schools have been failing for so long, the state has the right to step in and run them instead, thanks to NCLB, and, for McGinley, that would be the worst solution of all. She has to upset the fruit basket or face losing control.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

CCSD Citizens' Oversight Committee Letter

Just to make taxpayers confident that their dollars are well spent in CCSD's new capital building campaign, the district is soliciting members for a Citizens' Oversight Committee. Each community liaison should self-nominate by letter sent to 75 Calhoun (see Tuesday's P&C for details). Here's my suggested content for successfully being selected.

Dear Superintendent McGinley and CCSD Board Chair Chris Fraser,

I would so desire to serve on the Citizens' Oversight Committee. I know that my quarterly attendance to listen to presentations by the Superintendent and Bill Lewis will enlighten my entire community. Superintendent McGinley's words are always so wise, and Bill Lewis is such a commanding figure in our community.

I have no opinions of my own on the building campaign or its finances, so I have no conflict of interest in promulgating these inspiring messages to my community. In fact, since I don't understand finances at all and can barely balance my checkbook, for all I care, you can leave out that boring numbers stuff in your quarterly presentations.

I'm sure our committee will spearhead a new understanding and transparency between CCSD and the community.

Warmest regards,
Joe Toady

Thursday, February 03, 2011

McGinley Discovers Schools Are Segregated!

Strange to say, Superintendent Nancy McGinley of the Charleston County School District has managed to voice aloud what everyone already knew: many, if not most, of the schools within the district are de facto segregated in constituent districts where housing is not.

Take District 20, where if Burke High School students see a white face all day, it must belong to a teacher. If there's only one public high school on the peninsula (Burke) and the peninsula is majority white AND there are more white than minority children, then how can that be?

A dirty little secret. Parents can appeal to constituent boards to allow their children to attend schools outside of the district for convenience, and if the constituent board disagrees, they can appeal to the CCSD Board of Trustees who will rule on the matter in closed session and no one will ever know what the inconvenience was. And for the peninsula it was a means of keeping affluent students in the public school system, albeit elsewhere.

Interesting word, convenience. Taking the definition, it means " the quality of being suitable to one's comfort, purposes, or needs."

I'm sure there are cases where transfer is justified, but the wholesale transfer of white students out of a constituent district and the wholesale transfer of minority students in as necessary strains credulity. Which is why the Board's committee proposal to stop transfers on the basis of convenience makes sense--to a point.

Most likely McGinley hopes that her convoluted plans for mini-magnets within each constituent district will satisfy those parents unsatisfied with failing neighborhood schools. Now she wants transfers out "to have a sound rationale." Convenience suddenly no longer meets that standard.

You have to wonder: would McGinley, if she had any, send her children to a school that is failing to educate its students? Because the rest of the committee's proposal is to prevent students slated to attend failing schools from transferring out.

Justice? Where is the justice in that? Is it even legal, given NCLB rules?