Monday, August 29, 2011

CCSD's Taylor Speaks Truth to Power

Speaking truth to power is perhaps the oldest and, certainly, one of
the most difficult of ethical challenges because to do entails personal danger.
From the day humans descended from our ape-like ancestors until only very
recently, tribal leaders, clan elders, kings, and just plain bosses were men who
ruled by force. To question their decisions was to risk death.--
James O'Toole

Fortunately, in the Charleston County School District these days, speaking truth to power risks defamation of one's character, not death!

The latest attack perpetrated by Superintendent Nancy McGinley (with the total cooperation of the P&C) on a duly elected member of the Board of Trustees, Mary Ann Taylor, is the case in point. Imagine that a retired teacher with 27 years of experience in the classroom would dare to disagree with a graduate of the Broad Institute! What is this world coming to?

In a four-page letter to the superintendent, Taylor expressed her views concerning the role of the local NAACP chapter in running CCSD. Naively. Why, she actually assumed that the content of a private letter to the superintendent would not be bandied about the offices of the Taj Mahal at 75 Calhoun, handed directly to Dot Scott, or excerpted for the P&C! Strangely, Taylor assumed that McGinley was an honorable colleague who had the best interests of CCSD's students at heart.

We've seen two or three paragraphs from the letter so kindly reprinted by the P&C. Don't you wonder what the rest of the content concerned? Whatever it was, it wasn't good for slander.

Now Taylor has hired a lawyer versed in school board law to defend herself against Chris Fraser's additional ill-conceived and false accusations, which to this day McGinley's minions are distributing.

Clearly, McGinley's goal is to hound Taylor off the Board or shut her up. Not going to happen, Nancy.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

P&C HIt Job on CCSD's Taylor Coming

The P&C had to figure out just the right angle from which to attack CCSD Board member Mary Ann Taylor. That must explain the long delay in its reporting what has been in the wind for several weeks. The attacks on Kandrac and Collins over, on to discrediting Taylor!

The on-line teaser put out on Sunday hints at malfeasance without providing the least amount of information--how typical. As character assassination, the editor believes being a Republican is enough.

Fortunately, Taylor has been wise enough to hire a lawyer with expertise in the field.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

In Case You Missed P&C Attack on Collins

The P&C sees its mission as deflating the influence of anyone disagreeing with CCSD Superintent McGinley's policies. It might hurt Mayor Riley's re-election, doncha know?

As we learned last week, Chris Collins, an elected member of the Charleston County School District Board of Trustees, simply isn't deferential enough to Superintendent Nancy McGinley and her hangers-on. As a result, the P&C deemed it appropriate to publicize late rent payments that Collins's church owed the district.

Just in case you didn't read the first article, the P&C has a follow-up that the rent has been paid. Wow, inquiring minds want to know.

Such coverage coheres completely to the attitude Melanie Balog (a Brian-Hicks wannabe) expressed in a recent hatchet job on elected CCSD Board member Elizabeth Kandrac. (Kandrac isn't deferential enough, either.) Balog ignorantly follows the P&C line.

You might wonder why attacks have not been leveled at Elizabeth Moffly and Mary Ann Taylor. Ask the editors of the P&C. Moffly and Taylor will not hesitate (and have not hesitated) to call in their lawyers when drivel erupts from McGinley's lapdog Chris Fraser, Board Chairman.

Too bad Collins and Kandrac don't have access to equal resources.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

CCSD Tax Dollars at Work

Pictures the P&C couldn't bother to print.

Why, some old busybody who had nothing better to do snapped these pictures of perfectly good office furniture awaiting the garbage hauler! Shame on them! Where? Behind Wando High School, of course.

When notified, Diette Courrege quickly tipped off CCSD for damage repair. PR hack Elliot Smalley contacted Wando Principal Beckham, who "salvaged" a few useable items.

Whose head rolled for putting them out there? No one's, of course.

What percentage were really usable? Why do I think more than Beckham admitted. Her standards may be higher than a struggling nonprofit.

How would Beckham know they were useable or not? It's not part of her job. But CCSD does have a clear policy regarding trashing furniture. It wasn't followed. Are any schools following it?

Here's why the public doesn't trust the district when it says it needs more money.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rogue NAACP Wants All-Black Schools

From the comments of local NAACP President Dot Scott, people should logically conclude that Scott hates integrated schools; she hopes for all-black ones.

Scott happily supported Charleston County Schools Superintendent Nancy McGinley as long as McGinley kept appointing blacks to administrative positions. Now she is outraged that two high schools--Garrett and Stall--will have white principals. Someone should ask her: where is the tipping point? If the school is 49 percent black, should it have a principal who is half white and half black? If the school is 51 percent black, should the principal be black? Just plain silly.

What Scott should be outraged about is that CCSD policies have produced a pattern of schools that are 95 (or more) percent black! Instead, her goal is de facto segregation. The NAACP (and Scott) will control the public schools only if they are no longer integrated. Appointing principals based on race should put the icing on the cake.

No wonder the local NAACP has the lowest percentage of white members of practically any chapter in the country! Measured by Scott's statements, it's composed of a bunch of racists.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

P&C Sits on Taylor-Fraser Confrontation

As if.

As if it weren't enough to print press releases from 75 Calhoun as though they are news reports, or carry out the wishes of the CCSD Board Chairman to disparage only members who disagree with his high-handed attitude, now comes the clincher.

What justifies the Post and Courier's sitting on the blockbuster news of an illegal threat of removal made to Board member Mary Ann Taylor by Chris Fraser?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Machinations in CCSD

Do you believe in fairy tales?

If so, you must be one of the few readers of the P&C that believe the assertion that Chris Collins's failure to pay rent to the Charleston County School Board as been widely publicized as a public service and not as payback for challenging Chris Fraser's miserable performance as an independent CCSD Board chairman.

You must also believe that Elizabeth Kandrac's continued opposition to the proposals of the majority of the Board of Trustees has no connection whatsoever to the P&C's "expose" of her training expenditures. The P&C clearly believes that only rich people like Chris Fraser should be on the Board, and then they wouldn't bill CCSD for their expenses.

Of course, Chris Fraser himself is low spender because he doesn't need to attend any educational classes; he takes his orders straight from the superintendent and then asks how high to jump.

Or so it seems to many observers.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

One More Try at AP Proficiency in CCSD

Over the next three years the Charleston County School District will receive nearly $2 million in federal tax dollars to prepare for and improve Advanced Placement classes at five high-minority and high-poverty middle and high schools in North Charleston. Since CCSD's policies of placing so many magnet schools in North Charleston have drained achieving students from these schools over the last decade, the news should be welcomed.

The College Board's Advanced Placement program does indeed have much to recommend it, not the least of which is that the exams are not locally graded; hence, no dumbing down to get the desired results as so happens with state testing. A solid background that begins at least as early as middle school (and preferably in elementary school) must precede the rigorous requirements of high school AP courses. One need look only to Burke for the poor results in its AP academy, caused not by its teachers, who do yeoman service, but by the weak backgrounds of students entering such courses.

If CCSD uses its dollars wisely (always questionable), such a large sum of money should go a long way towards alleviating discrepancies with other areas of CCSD. Why, even Superintendent McGinley has suggested that "she also would like to identify more gifted and talented students in elementary schools, so they can take more accelerated classes."

Does she really mean what she says? Taking children who are on or ahead of grade level and separating them from the majority of students who cannot read well? That would require--horrors--tracking. Educrats of the last two or three decades would roll over in their graves.

Of course, having a First-Grade or Third-Grade or Sixth-Grade Academy amounts to the same, just in different schools. Maybe the old ways weren't so bad after all.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

CCSD Board: Trust, Not Verify

Monday night the Charleston County Board of Trustees voted on an evaluation instrument for Superintendent Nancy McGinley. The Board members did not receive a final copy of the evaluation form on which to vote. Shame on you, Chris Fraser. You've had nearly two months to straighten this out.

Yet the effervescent form claims to be virtually identical to last year's instrument, the one designed by McGinley for herself! You can't make this stuff up.

The way the evaluation works statistically, it is virtually impossible for the superintendent to get a failing grade. Wow. Sounds like some of our students' social promotions.

All this drama precurses another salary increase and contract extension for McGinley. Considering the economy and her performance as judged by the community at large, let's hope she can't cow the present Board into either.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Common Sense in P&C Editorial on NCLB

"And if the Adequate Yearly Progress reports remind educators of how crucial it is for schools to educate all students, they have served a worthy purpose."

So ends the lead editorial in Monday's P&C. Since I so frequently criticize the P&C's coverage of local education, I find it only fair to compliment this writer. When NCLB was adopted into law, everyone knew that the targets would be difficult to reach and more difficult as time marched on, due to increasing expectations for every year. The rationale behind such Draconian measures was that the students presently in school couldn't afford to wait for decades for the schools to improve.

Nothing's changed except increasing cries of outrage that the goals are too tough. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is worried that 80 percent of American schools "could face penalties" unless standards are lowered.

Penalties? You would think we were talking about walking the plank! The penalties, as we in CCSD well know, involve required tutoring, allowing students to transfer to non-failing schools, and after several years of failure, restructuring of the school. Horrors!

The editorial writer is correct in assessing that students with disabilities have for too long been pushed to the sidelines in terms of attention. And CCSD has students with many differing degrees of disability that have not been challenged properly despite the heroic efforts of special education teachers.

Despite its flaws, NCLB tries to live up to its name.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Bragging About Financial Need

In a yearly ritual that should have died out with black-and-white TV, school districts around the country have finished toting up a meaningless statistic usually referred to as "college scholarship earnings." Thursday's P&C touts the setting of a new record by the Class of 2011.

Who will break with tradition first and shout, "The emperor has no clothes"?

I have blogged on this nonsensical practice previously, so I won't bore you with the process of how the sausage is made. Suffice it to say that the monetary total is not earnings, will not be received by the student, and frequently has nothing to do with scholarship. Oh, yes, the student will enroll at one college and receive its financial aid package, usually a combination of grants and work-study, all based on demonstrated financial need. The only "scholarship" involved is that the student was accepted to the institution.

Forget the overall totals. Every year someone who usually performs valuable service is set to work to gather all the numbers for publication, thus taking away time that could be spent usefully. We haven't always done it this way, and I haven't had the interest to find out when the practice started and spread like a cancer.

It's time to stop and gather statistics that are actually useful, starting with how many students who graduate from the high school in question have graduated from college four or five years later.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

South Carolina Discovers Reading

Maybe the P&C should pat itself on the back.

After all, the Charleston County Schools District discovered reading only when it ran a series of articles on how CCSD students can't. Former academic bureaucrat Nancy McGinley took up the challenge when she discovered through those articles that reading was important to students' scoring well on tests! Imagine that.

Now State Superintendent Mick Zais wants the news to spread to all districts in the state, to let every district superintendent know that reading is important. Golly.

Unlike Superintendent McGinley, Zais believes that, with a bit of flexibility, districts can improve reading skills without getting extra money.

Who invited him to the edublob?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

This Too Will PASS

For the 2009-10 school year South Carolina instituted a new state-wide test that supplanted the PACT. Developing the PACT cost five and a half million dollars; we can assume developing the PASS was likewise costly.

Now the state must drop the PASS by the 2014-15 school year, due to the adoption of the Common Core Standards. That means that the now obsolete PASS will have cost a million per year to develop. Did you ever sense that the developers of such tests are like pigs at the trough?

Another "homegrown" test for the Common Core Standards will surely cost as much to develop as the PACT did. Why would the state even consider developing its own when others are already in the works. Let's be comparable for a change!

Despite worries about giving up control of curriculum, Common Core Standards make sense. It's the CORE, stupid. South Carolina can add whatever it wants to supplement the core, as undoubtedly other states will do. The days are gone when all students stayed in the same school system or even in the same state for K-12. Not having a Common Core hurts them.