Saturday, November 23, 2013

Councilman Gilliard Stokes Mean-Spirited Rumors About Burke's Closing

Wendell Gilliard has the floor, or at least the op-ed page, Saturday to respond to ideas proposed by the District 20 (downtown) constituent board. Most of his ideas mimic the usual platitudes emanating from Superintendent McGinley. However, one vitriolic section reads as though NAACP President Dot Scott thought it up. 
"My constituents are saying that there is a faction in the community that wants Burke closed so that it can be reopened as an exclusive academic magnet school for a select few. This group has already suggested the name of “Academic Magnet-South.” Group meetings are being held with handpicked special interest groups that want to close the school, change the school’s name and re-open anew. 
"The general community feels that the school is being neglected — that so-called advocates appear to be involved, but that movement on any real plans is running at a snail’s pace. This actually would allow for a further drop in enrollment and therefore the school’s closing.
"Such actions are unfair and cater to those who wish to exclude children who have every right to be at Burke.
Conspiracy theories, anyone? Gilliard uses the classic "straw man" strategy: set up a false premise and then demolish it.

  • "so-called advocates" are unnamed because Gilliard didn't want to publicize Arthur Lawrence's support;
  • "exclusive magnet school" and "select few" suggest that any change is meant to exclude the present students;
  • "handpicked special interest groups" translates as community members not selected by Superintendent McGinley
  • "change the school's name" slops over into the "red herring" category, since no one has suggested doing that.
The "snail's pace" Gilliard complains about can be laid squarely at the doorstep of the very administration he claims is doing so well for the school as it is.

Nowhere does Gilliard state what he really wants: an all-black high school. 

12 comments:

Pluff Mudd said...

AMEN.

Superintendent Nancy McGinley is killing Burke slowly as it is. Peter Lawrence has rightly sounded an alarm, but Ms. McGinley would rather hold a pep rally for Burke and then change the subject.

Anonymous said...

While this site is expectedly quick to espouse the success and transparency of the charter schools while continuing to rip the secrecy of the McGinley administration, I think that is a bit of "the pot calling the kettle black." Example: Why haven't ANY minutes from monthly board meetings held by CCSMS been posted on their website for the public since August 19th? I pay taxes. I'd like to know. Perhaps one of the numerous loyalists of the school can respond here in the same timely manner in which you do so frequently to criticize the secret dealings of CCSD. I'm waiting...

CCSMS Parent said...

Well, only about 40 minutes after you pose the question, here's an answer.

As required by law, charter school board meeting minutes must be retained for public inspection as soon as they have been approved by the board at a subsequent meeting. There have been 3 regularly scheduled board meetings since Aug. 19th. The posting of the approved meeting minutes on the school's official website is to provide a convient way for the public to access the minutes, but a hard copy is legally required to be available in the school's front office for all to see upon request during normal business hours.

CCSMS is reviewing its website after receiving complaints about its format, accessibility and content. School leaders have said they hope access to public records relating to board activity is one of the areas that will soon be improved.

It is difficult to create a new culture for charter school transparency when the most convenient model is CCSD, but we try. There is a reason for the saying "the apple doesn't fall far from its tree". This is a constant challenge for public schools in Charleston County. Even startup charter schools are still operating under the cloud of CCSD's corporate culture.

Clisby said...

"My constituents are saying that there is a faction in the community that wants Burke closed so that it can be reopened as an exclusive academic magnet school for a select few. This group has already suggested the name of “Academic Magnet-South."

Fascinating. I can't swear this isn't true, but I'm a little skeptical. Why? I'm white, middle-class, live right down the street from The Citadel, and have one child in a charter school and one at Academic Magnet. You'd think I might be part of the target audience for such a group, but I haven't heard a word about it. If this group exists, it sure isn't casting its net very wide.

Pluff Mudd said...

Don't you love it. This is the bitter fruit that has come as a result of all the crazy magnet programs Charleston has planted. They don't care. They're everywhere and have almost no meaning except to exclude. Magnet schools in Charleston now stand for separate and exclusive. In most other cities, magnet schools are designed to do just that, bring people together. Like so much of what CCSD does, it's bass ackwards.

Anonymous said...

To CCSMS Parent: Thank you for your feeble attempt at serving as a messenger for the Charter School for Math and Science. Excuse me for sounding cynical, but I find their explanation ridiculous. For years the minutes have been conveniently posted on their website. Now you are telling me (or they are telling you) that it might be more convenient for those of us (taxpayers) who are interested in reviewing the board minutes that it will be easier to stop by between office hours to view a printed copy? I believe many of us who work long hours would prefer, in your words, the "convenient" method of having them regularly posted on their website as opposed to being inconvenienced with a trip to King Street to view a "hard copy." And why is it "difficult to create a new culture for charter school transparency when the most convenient model is CCSD?" C'mon, now. Certainly you can do better than this. Now you/they are blaming CCSD for your own school's lack of transparency. This is laughable.

Anonymous said...

A word (actually, two words) of caution to any educator deciding if charter is the right way to go for a position: "At will." Sometimes, as is apparently the case at James Island, the principal cannot even hire a football coach without drawing the ire of his board. Another descriptive word worth mentioning": "Micromanagement."

Alex Peronneau said...

There are a couple of issues here reflecting bigger problems in public education in Charleston County. This is much broader than what is going on in one charter school. The exact same situation exists within the Charleston County School District.

Almost all employees of the district are employed "at will". There are very few who have firm employment agreements and these are usually only the highest paid administrators with multi-year contracts. Though the county superintendent has tried to circumvent due process rights, "at will" employees do have legally protected rights to appeal and to request a board hearing as part of an appeal. County charter school disputes can even be appealed to the county school board. Bet you didn't know that.

Micromanagement is another problem that is endemic throughout the public educational environment in Charleston. Principals and teachers are on the short end of the stick, regardless of who is doing the micromanagement. Sometimes it's a board and sometimes it’s the administrative bureaucracy, either way, attempts to micromanage schools from the outside almost always damage the integrity of the academic setting and the educational mission.

Burke High School is now the poster child of the damage done when incompetent outsiders try to micromanage a school for their own self-serving reasons. Teaching to the test, placing endless testing over classroom instruction and then evaluating teachers based on student test results are all examples of micromanagement imposed on the classroom. Most of it is being done by outside experts (usually with no teaching experience). Just saying it’s micromanagement doesn’t make it so. Accurate information is needed before there is a rush to judgement.

Something else jumps out in the JICHS report. Public communication surrounding this charter school board and its recent actions appears to have been less than what it should have been. That's a big problem as well. It's one that CCSD has had for years.

JICHS, as much as we might like to say otherwise about this parent driven charter school, is still just a chip off the old CCSD block. It remains a challenge for all charter schools to rise above the minimum and genuinely try to be innovative by breaking away from the low expectations of the one-size-fits-all super-sized county school district.

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Anonymous said...

CCSMS is now THREE months behind in posting minutes from their past three board meetings (September, October, November). So much for transparency. Let's see if they can make it four months.