Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Feckless CCSD Board Chairman Has Tantrum

Frustrated because the superintendent never told him there would be days like that, Charleston County School Board Chairman Chris Fraser walked out on the board members' discussion at Monday night's meeting.

Fraser has struggled to cope with his ignorance of, and inability to apply, Robert's Rules of Order from the beginning of his term. He has no executive presence.

When, if ever, will Fraser comprehend that elected members will sometimes disagree with his (i.e., Superintendent McGinley's) agenda for the district? What does he think should happen to members who actually perform due diligence on matters facing the Board? Apparently, they should remain quiet in their ignorance as other members do, or even absent themselves altogether in the name of harmony, as member Ann Oplinger does frequently.

Furthermore, why is the Board meeting about contracts that should have been approved before the school year began? Only one more instance of mismanagement by the administration.

If you want to blame anyone, Chris, blame your boss.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Why No College Summit in CCSD?

Cross High School. Berkeley County. Eighty percent free or reduced lunch. Students from the small communities of Cross, Ridgeville, Pineville, Pinopolis and Sandridge. Forty seniors this year.

Where am I going with this one? Not where you would expect.

Named one of America’s Best High Schools by U.S. News & World Report in 2010.

Maybe its participation in a program named College Summit contributed to that recognition. To quote the P & C,
  • At Cross, college planning starts in earnest during the spring of junior year, when students are encouraged to take the SAT or ACT. That way, they can meet early decision deadlines, which is Oct. 1 for many colleges.
  • Most of the 40 seniors at the school have submitted at least one [college application by now].
  • The seniors got a jump on the process thanks to a program called College Summit, a class they all take.
  • “We lay out for them how to get into college,” said Seay, who teaches the College Summit program and is chair of the social studies department. “We want them to have a post-secondary plan, but this community is not a wealthy community and we find that some of them will turn down college to go into the military or get a job.”
  • For that reason, all of the students also take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, the military’s admission test, and attend an annual career fair with local industry.
  • “One of the things I love most about College Summit is that they are very persistent in making sure the students get what they need,” Davis said. “Although not all of the students wind up going to college, it has created a college-going culture here.”
Well, amen to that. Why not Burke or North Charleston High Schools?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

CCSD by the Numbers: AMHS, NCHS, and Garrett

Just in case you were wondering what ever happened to all those vacancies at the Academic Magnet last year, they grew.

The latest statistics for the 2012-13 school year show that AMHS has 76 vacancies, up from the 70 that it had at the beginning of the prior year. Talk about a tin ear. No doubt the Charleston County School Superintendent will claim that no where in the county could students be found who wanted those seats and would be successful. Don't you believe it. That's a vacancy rate of 11 percent.

Think how valuable those empty seats are.

In addition, Garrett Tech's enrollment is also falling. For now only 676 students fill 896 potential seats; that's a 25 percent vacancy rate.

Not to be outdone, North Charleston High School, recently remodeled to hold 1000 students, now holds 467, a vacancy rate of 53 percent. In other words, the building is half empty.

While NCHS's poor reputation and availability of alternative schools can explain the vacancies there, what is to explain the drop in enrollment at Garrett, a school with a good reputation, and the vacancies at Academic Magnet, where we are told students are lining up to get in?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

NAEP Writing Results Undermine PASS Statistics

If, as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, writing test results just announced show that across the nation 73 percent of K-12 students do not have standard or advanced results, what does it say about the PASS, South Carolina's new assessment of its students' writing skills, that it finds 75 percent of CCSD's students meet or exceed its standards?

That's 73 percent failing to meet NEAP standards in the United States.

That's 25 percent failing to meet PASS standards in Charleston County.

Wow, CCSD must be doing something right? We should share our good news with the rest of the world. The P & C did just that by publishing PASS scores for the NAEP story.

How dumb does it think its readers are?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Deerin's Group Shills for CCSD's McGinley

You think that seats on the Board of Trustees are non-partisan? When did you fall off the turnip truck?

In a thinly-veiled attempt to stack the Charleston County School District's Board of Trustees with supporters of the status quo, especially CCSD's Superintendent McGinley, Ginny Deerin, long-time Democratic Party operative, has cobbled together Citizens Working Together for Great Schools, or CWTGS.

CWTGS' main plank is pro non-charter schools, or to put it another way: anti-charter schools. Anti parental choice.

Deerin recently attended the Democratic Convention in Charlotte as a delegate along with her close friend, Mayor Riley. Let's not kid ourselves. This slate is an overt try to elect Riley supporters, and thus McGinley supporters, to the School Board, no matter what Deerin claims.

Two of the slate, John Barter and Jim Ramich, will be delighted to vote, if elected, on the Kiawah TIF desired by Riley: both of them own homes, if not reside year-round, on Kiawah itself.  Chris Fraser, present Board Chair and another TIF supporter, already is congratulating them for running.

Mattese Lecque was defeated for the Board in the last election but hopes the "second time is a charm" by joining the Democrats' team, so difficult for her, since she is a former officer of the Charleston County Democratic Committee. Also, as a Charleston County employee she knows on which side her bread is buttered.

Todd Garrett, the fourth member of the team, already has the political edge given to him by the Charleston County legislative delegation: they appointed him to fill Toya Hampton-Green's empty chair for a month. No politics there. We wonder if Garrett knows he's being used.

Too bad the Post & Courier is on the mayor's payroll. The taxpayers at large will never know what's going on, if the local rag can prevent it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Kandrac: CCSD's Uppity Woman

If there is one thing that makes Brian Hicks see red , it's an uppity woman. In particular, an uppity woman on the CCSD Board of Trustees. Who could disagree?

After all, Elizabeth Kandrac had the insolence to sue the Charleston County School District over racist treatment she received as a teacher in the district! Other teachers would have faded away quietly because they didn't have the money to sue. Then Kandrac had the temerity to accept the monetary damages when she won the case (by trickery, no doubt). Why, she should have immediately turned the cash over to the superintendent "for the children."

How infuriating!

Then, Kandrac, assuming the role of uppity ex-teacher, ran for a North Charleston seat on the CCSD Board of Trustees. Talk about adding insult to injury! Ex-teachers should know their place, after all, and these Board seats are the honorary purview of the rich, not the hoi polloi! Teachers don't know any more about education than members of the Chamber of Commerce!

It only goes to show, as I'm sure Hicks would agree, just how ignorant and red-necked the residents of Charleston County are, given that Kandrac was actually elected to that seat. Why, she wasn't even endorsed by the Democratic Party!

Suitable to her low status, Kandrac should have followed the more experienced members of the Board and learned to "bootlick, be seen and not heard" or, even better, "bootlick, be not seen and not heard," since they know that the Board trustees are mere figureheads serving in an honorary capacity. Ask Ann Oplinger or Toya Hampton-Green.

This misunderstanding on Kandrac's part led to her ridiculous attempts to attend as many training sessions and meetings as possible to educate herself on how school boards (and districts) should run. Why does she think trustees should have opinions? Why doesn't she understand that what the administration of the district says doesn't need challenges?

Hicks must be greatly relieved that his headache named Kandrac isn't running again.

But wait. . .

Has he noticed Elizabeth Moffly (see, they even share the same name!), who's developing another case of not knowing her place in the hierarchy?

Stay tuned.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Burke Middle/ High: Becoming a Basket Case

On the seventh day of classes this year, enrollment at Burke Middle/High stood at 467.

Harvey Gantt, Burke High graduate and former mayor of Charlotte, originally designed the new campus for 1800. While changes in configuration have brought the capacity closer to 1300, even at that number enrollment is a joke. And the school sits prominently on the state's list of failing schools.

How did this once proud high school reach this nadir? It didn't happen overnight. Parents in District 20 deserve better. Will the Charleston County School District ever provide the leadership to climb out of this abyss? Why is the NAACP so quiet?

Sunday, September 09, 2012

McGinley Wants Closed CCSD Meeting on Kiawah TIF

What's going on behind the curtains? Maybe just a little man playing the mighty Oz?

In this case, its the chair of the Charleston County School Board of Trustees, who doesn't move a muscle without the superintendent's permission. Even though the County Council met in open session on the question of granting a Kiawah TIF, McGinley/Fraser has put it on the agenda for closed session.

What do they hope to hide from the public?

We hope enough Board members refuse to play into this scheme.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Only Two of Five CCSD Wannabes Real

The disgrace of District 20 representation in the Charleston County School District continues.

District 20 is located on the Charleston peninsula. Erstwhile resident and Board member Toya Hampton-Green, once the darling of the Riley administration, has moved to Columbia and vacated her post. Not a great loss, since Green didn't care to represent District 20 and had no mind of her own.

But worse, neither of two District 20 candidates' petitions qualified for the November ballot for the downtown seat. Now five residents wish to be appointed for Green's remaining, hardly two-month, term.

Both Todd Garrett and Tony Lewis at least had the energy to attempt to get on the ballot to be elected to Green's slot. Why should a bunch of politicians (and Niki Haley) appoint one of the three others (Jo Cannon, Bruce Smith, or Lewis Weinstein) who couldn't be bothered with petitions but now see an easy way to get a seat and then run a write-in campaign from a position of strength?

Let Green's seat remain vacant for the remaining meetings of the old Board. We'll hardly be able to tell the difference between her being absent while she's on the Board and being absent while she's off the Board.

Appointing anyone else besides Garrett or Lewis doesn't pass the smell test.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

CCSD's Sullivan's Question Not Going Quietly

How big should the new Sullivan's Island elementary school be?

The Charleston County School Board of Trustees (slavishly following the lead of Superintendent Nancy McGinley) has ordained that the school as it exists is too small to be viable; therefore, CCSD plans to bus in hundreds of students from the Isle of Palms and Mount Pleasant to create the standard 500-student elementary school that it finds so desirable.

The Sullivan's Town Council was snookered into going along with this plan before really considering the wishes of residents of the island; hence, unrest among the natives, threats (and realities) of lawsuits, and bad tempers all around.

Never mind the undeniable fact that spending millions on a school on a barrier island subject to the vagaries of hurricanes remains a quixotic idea.  CCSD and the Sullivan's Town Council have a tiger by the tail.

It's hard to drum up sympathy for them in their war on neighborhood schools.