Monday, January 30, 2012

As Compared to What, Kandrac Asks

Outer Slobovia? Suburban Port-au-Prince? Newark? Detroit?

The Charleston County School Superintendent is patting herself on the back for hiring another of the EDUBLOB to facilitate "goals" and "satisfaction" surveys for the district, at the rate of about $80,000 per year of OPM* for the next three years. The Studer Group facilitated a survey. For $80,000 it used its canned computer programs to run responses to its prewritten one-size-fits-all surveys. Then it announced that the satisfaction index in CCSD is greater than four other similar districts which must remain nameless, that is, nebulous. See above.

Superintendent McGinley blames some principals for not giving parents proper access to satisfaction surveys.

Wait a minute. Why would principals be responsible when Studer is paid the $80,000?

And why should anyone consider the results valid when fewer than 15 percent of parents responded to the survey?

* Other People's Money

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

McGinley Determines to Save Teacher Morale

Special from the turnip truck.
In a marked departure from her usual posturing, Charleston County School District Superintendent Nancy McGinley lambasted recent policies forced upon her by the CCSD Board of Trustees.

First, she complained that her salary and benefits were already too high, and the Board should not have awarded her a raise based on jiggered statistics in the district. Her protestations were met with stony silence by members Kandrac and Collins. Chris Fraser remarked that McGinley really should receive another raise in February based on her performance at the recent "shows"about district goals.

Stymied on that point, McGinley pointed out the unfairness of reducing teachers' salaries during the same period. She correctly pointed out that teachers have the closest relationship with the students (barring herself, of course), and if they appear bedraggled and hungry the students will be demoralized. Fraser and Oplinger immediately jumped on this idea, saying that teachers have taken a vow of poverty, so reduced salaries should make them even more energized in the classroom.

Finally, McGinley offered to reduce the number of associate superintendents by half and take on extra duties to show her solidarity with classroom teachers who now take additional students into their classrooms for supervision when others are absent. Showing an astute knowledge of arithmetic, she also pointed out that assuming 5.6 days of leave for teachers allowed three personal days and 10 sick days does not add up. Fraser silenced the board members who had become agitated at this point and requested that McGinley take a vacation as soon as possible.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tea Partier for CCSD Board

In surprise move, the Charleston County legislative delegation has selected tea partier and Drayton Hall parent Brian Thomas to replace the resigned Mary Ann Taylor. Governor Haley must act on the recommendation before Thomas can take his seat.

While readers of this blog know I hoped the delegation could see its way to select Henry Copeland, this outcome probably is about the best second choice. For one, Thomas is a charter school supporter (he is a Drayton Hall parent, after all). Also, the majority Republican delegation chose a Republican to replace a Republican (Copeland is a Democrat).

Which brings me to point out once again that the emperor has no clothes.

Our school board is (shock! gasp!) populated by partisans. Every election, the Democrat party backs its slate of "nonpartisans," and the Republican Party backs its slate of "nonpartisans."

I detest charades.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Academic Magnet Silence on Cheaters

It's mid-January. The second semester of the school year is well under way.

Why the silence by all involved on the dozen or so cheaters whose children are attending the Academic Magnet without being eligible?

Why do I surmise that silence means CCSD's consent?

Inmates Running Amuck in CCSD Again

What ever happened to common sense? Cowardice.

Cowardice on the part of Charleston County School Superintendent Nancy McGinley and the Town Council of Sullivans Island.

You see, the one-size-fits-all elementary school of 500 students adopted by a previous CCSD Board of Trustees enables Superintendent McGinley to avoid making decisions about size on the basis of common sense. She merely points to the Board's decision (which she initiated, by the way). Even the scintilla of common sense that might justify the policy, saving money by using the same architectural plans for each school, is nonexistent.

What will Sullivans Island become when its most salient landmark is an large, elevated elementary school?

How can a school district defend a $24.6 million building on a barrier island subject to hurricanes? Can anyone say "Hugo"? Don't you wonder what the yearly insurance will cost the district?

Then, there's the fact that only 85 students actually live on Sullivans Island. Let's think. Which is more cost effective: to bus 85 students to Mount Pleasant twice daily or to bus 415 students to Sullivans Island twice a day? Duh.

That said, why not please the folks on Sullivans and simply repair the building now being used. Why? Because McGinley can't take the heat of other parts of the county complaining that their smaller schools were closed because, McGinley claimed, they weren't large enough to be cost effective. Of course, we know other criteria entered into McGinley's school redesign as well--her statistics as superintendent.

In addition, not to put too fine a point on it, the Town Council of Sullivans Island needs to be voted out of office for agreeing to lease the land to CCSD before using its collective brains. Now, because it is too cowardly to call the citizens' petition too-little-too-late, the Council has chosen to pass the hot potato to a judge

As I said previously, the inmates are running amuck in the asylum that is CCSD. Where are the grown-ups?

Sullivans residents: Can you say "charter"?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Balog's Column Attacks Zais for Teachers' Union

Did you wonder what the "South Carolina Education Association" was when you read Melanie Balog's Thursday column attacking Mick Zais?

This Jackie Hicks,  whose opinions Balog treats as the gold standard, is president of what is called South Carolina's "union representing public school teachers in the state [which is] affiliated with the National Education Association" (NEA), an organization that never met a fiscal conservative it liked.

To say that Balog uncritically swallows the union line doesn't put too fine a point on it.

Apparently she's been taking lessons from Brian Hicks.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

CCSD's Smalley Finalist for East Baton Rouge District

Poor babies.

That's the students in the East Baton Rouge Parish School District if CCSD's communications chief, Elliot Smalley is chosen as their new superintendent.

You must seriously wonder about the goals of its school board even to pick Smalley as one of six finalists for superintendent. Maybe it's all about public relations after all and not about education.

We can envision the fanfare now, similar to Maria Goodloe-Johnson's send-off to Seattle a few years ago. Fraser and McGinley are already congratulating themselves on the quality of the administration at the Taj Mahal.

We know how Seattle's intelligent choice ended.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

CCSD Rolls Out "Goals" Dog-and-Pony Shows

The Charleston County School District wants (right!) public feedback on its goals for 2016. So Monday night you can attend a meeting at Wando High School where you can listen to a power-point presentation, or even see a video perhaps, that shows the goal that by 2016 in CCSD 93 percent of third-graders will be on grade level in math, etc., etc.

Don't you wonder what legitimate feedback would consist of? Are you going to stand up and complain that only 90 percent should be the goal, or are you going whole hog and proposing 100 percent? What if CCSD polled the district and voters said that they wanted 95 percent? Would CCSD change the goal?

Perhaps someone will inquire why the district needs goals, or another will demand a 10-year plan. How about a one-year plan? Is someone going to ask how much each additional percent will cost the taxpayers?

You can see that this exercise gets sillier and sillier.

These meetings are a public-relations substitute for transparency in the district, pure and simple.

Allow me to substitute a goal: decrease the administrative overhead in CCSD by 15 percent per year for the next five years. Hire more teachers with the savings. Then eliminate the superintendent. Her salary alone should hire another 10 or so.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Copeland for CCSD School Board Appointment

Time for a reasonable replacement for Mary Ann Taylor on the CCSD Board of Trustees!

Henry Copeland on the Savage Report

Friday, January 06, 2012

Hicks's Column Shills for CCSD's McGinley

What ever happened to independent criticial thinking among newspaper columnists? It still can occasionally be found on the op-ed pages of the P&C, but certainly is missing from columnist Brian Hicks's ruminations on the discontent about the proposed new elementary school among residents of Sullivans Island.

Friday's entire column reads as though emailed by Superintendent Nancy McGinley's minions at 75 Calhoun. Hicks seems to swallow even the canard that Sullivans Island taxpayers shirked their duties when the new school was first proposed. Clearly he hasn't attended one of these dog-and-pony shows where McGinley allows the public to breathe minor objections (rarely answered) after all major decisions have been made.

Wrong-headed and stupid. That's Hicks, not the residents of Sullivans Island, who object to McGinley's one-size-fits-all approach to Charleston County schools. This same non-discriminating approach gets us to the child expelled for bringing a butter knife in his lunch. But maybe Hicks believes that's appropriate.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Update on Stall's Heating Problems: Negligence

The most likely reason for the gas problems that closed down Stall High School this week is poorly installed lines (plumbing). This conclusion is possible thanks to Superintendent McGinley's comments on a radio talk show Thursday morning. McGinley did not deny that a gas leak had occurred. SCEG was called in to fix it and the district had to await inspectors before school could be reopened.

Bill Lewis must be called to account for what has occurred in a building less than two years old. Who was responsible for putting the entire student body of Stall High School in danger for over a year? As he is supervisor of construction, the buck stops at Lewis's desk.

CCSD Charter Enemy Support from Riley & McGinley

As I write, Mayor Riley (he who has no legal power in the Charleston County School District) and Superintendent McGinley (she who hates Mary Ann Taylor's ideas and probably her guts) are lobbying the Charleston County legislative delegation to appoint former CCSD Board Member Brian Moody to the seat vacated by Mary Ann Taylor.

Moody has a record of serving the district all right--to its detriment. First of all, why should the Chamber of Commerce be given even more power on the school board?  Chris Fraser already gives a blank check to the superintendent. Is that what the voters wanted when they elected Taylor? No.

Second, Moody opposes public charter schools. Yes, opposes. Our legislators should pay attention to what their constituents want: more charter schools, not fewer. Take a poll of voters if you don't believe me. The present charter schools in CCSD are practically beating off students with a stick. While on the Board, Moody voted for the moratorium on new charter schools in the district.

Disgruntled voters in the sending district for Drayton Hall Elementary have just learned that their efforts for a more creative charter school in its place have been squashed by litigation from CCSD. Moody voted in favor of funding that litigation.

Supporters of Moody can point to his experience as a CPA all they want; the record shows that Moody was asleep at the switch in the 2005 train wreck that raised property taxes. Moody admitted a year later that he just took the word of administration. He didn't do the job that he was elected to do. The district raised property taxes that year by nearly 30 percent while telling the voters it was doing just the opposite.

Administration has lulled the toady majority of the Board into the same shell game in 2011. Legislators, do you really believe Moody would have held his ground against the administration this time around? As legislators you should care about rising taxes--unless you wish to be pegged as in favor of them!

The reality of Moody's prior service to the district is that he was a place marker. If the legislative delegation chooses to appoint him over someone like Henry Copeland, who will take his position seriously, it deserves defeat in the next elections.

Call or email your representatives now to give them some backbone to repel Riley's and McGinley's attempts to put a travesty back on the Board of Trustees.

Senate: Larry Grooms 803-212-6400; Michael Rose 803-212-6056; Glenn McConnell 803-212-6610; Robert Ford 803-212-6124; Chip Campsen 212-6016; Paul Campbell 803-212-6016; Clementa Pinckney 803-212-6148

House: David Mack 803-734-3192; Chip Limehouse 803-734-2977; Wendell Gilliard 803-212-6793; Mike Sottile 803-212-6880; Seth Whipper 803-734-3191; Bobby Harrell 803-734-3125; Peter McCoy 803-212-6872; Robert Brown 803-734-3170

Anyone with email addresses for this delegation can append them in a comment. Time is of the essense!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Problems at CCSD's Stall High

The new Stall High School building was closed Wednesday due to potential loss of heat during the coldest weather so far this winter.

Please tell me that it is not so shoddily built that it's already having problems!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Sullivans to CCSD: We're Not Happy

Imagine! Those pesky residents of Sullivans Island don't want to go in lockstep with Superintendent McGinley and the Charleston County School District Board of Trustees. It seems that its former mayor and more than 200 petition-signing residents think that one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter schools don't fit the island.

Never mind that CCSD plans to build a 500-student school on a barrier island prone to hurricanes, or that the island is served by a swing bridge that will interrupt the busses traveling daily bringing more than half of the student body onto the island.  The major complaint is that the school will be out of scale for island life and change the character of its surroundings.

Funny. That's exactly what Superintendent McGinley has planned for all of Charleston County, and, thanks to her toady majority on the Board of Trustees, she's well on her way to accomplishing it.

The petition drive for a referendum of island residents is well meant but too late. Better to focus on the next school board election and getting the sycophants off the Board. Better yet to contact your legislative delegation this week and tell them that they should appoint someone to fill Mary Ann Taylor's vacant seat who will not be a rubber stamp.

That's what caused this problem in the first place.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Copeland on Savage Report This Week

Local attorney Andy Savage is not known for asking puffball questions.

Tune in to the Savage Report this coming week on Channel 2 at either 11:30 a.m. or 8:30 p.m. to see his interview with Henry Copeland, candidate for the open seat on the Charleston County School Board of Trustees. Also questioned are resigned member Mary Ann Taylor and Elizabeth Moffly, still a member of the Board.

The Charleston County delegation will make its choice later this month after interviewing all of the candidates.