Monday, November 18, 2013

Shock & Awe in CCSD: Close Burke; Put in 2nd Mt. Pleasant HS

It's brilliant! Whoever came up with this outside-of-the-box idea should be running the Charleston County School District instead of Nancy McGinley!

Over the last 40 or so years, Burke High/Middle School has become a buzzword for failure. In hindsight, the die was cast when the powers-that-be determined under consolidation that the white High School of Charleston would close, and the black Burke High would take both black and white students, a tactic destroying any loyalty that white parents as graduates of the former would have for the new school district. Burke not only became the lone high school on the peninsula; it retained its name and loyal following. Probably this agreement was worked out between the fed's attorney, Gregg Meyers(later an influential member of the CCSD School Board), and the NAACP.

Superintendent McGinley's box of tricks that she learned at the Broad Institute have failed her and failed her. No one has confidence that Burke can become an integrated school under the present circumstances. By petitioning the constituent board for transfers, droves of parents have made the choice to send their children to high schools that have the advanced and career programs that all students deserve. As a result, about half of eligible students living on the peninsula attend Burke. It's easy to accuse these parents of racism, but the cause is one of district mismanagement after a stupid initial decision.

No one has confidence that Burke can even retain its recent standing as "average," a rating based largely on better record keeping and last-minute cramming. Other signs point towards the inevitable downward slide. The current principal, Maurice Cannon, does not sound as though he is a solution but actually part of the problem. His perception that Burke's students do not pay attention in class nor do their work because they don't like some of their teachers is asinine. The school clearly lacks good leadership; we all know who controls that variable: Superintendent McGinley.

When you have Arthur Lawrence, a Burke graduate and long-time community supporter of Burke, calling for the shut-down of the school, you know the situation has reached a nadir. Lawrence wants to close Burke and all its programs and take the overflow from Mt. Pleasant's overcrowded Wando High School into the building as a new Mt. Pleasant High School while the district builds the new facility for Mt. Pleasant. Why, look! That means that "Burke" will have an integrated student body and the programs that are impossible to sustain under the present structure.

Now, the NAACP won't like this because Dot Scott doesn't want an integrated high school; she clearly wants a de facto black high school on the peninsula. Of course, she lives in West Ashley.


Pluff Mudd said...

Burke school didn't fail. The superintendent's office and 45 years of CCSD mismanagement failed Burke when it made promises they knew they couldn't keep or wouldn't work. We trusted them and you know what happens when you trust people like that.

Pluff Mudd said...

Mt. Pleasant High School sounds good to me, but what will they leave for downtown students when they move into a new East Cooper high school around 2019?

Anonymous said...

It is unfair to blame Maurice Cannon so early into his tenure and to label him as part of the "problem." So what if he cleaned up the CGR denominator? That should have been done years ago. He deserves credit for that work. Every high school principal in his/her right mind in any state in the union tracks their school's cohort graduation rate. That is part of the job. And yes, that is progress despite what your one-sided epistle infers. He deserves the length of his contract. If test scores improve, student retention/dropout rates improve, and school attendance moves up, Burke students and the community should feel good about finally turning things around. Maurice Cannon is an optimist and is passionate about his mission. Burke has lacked passionate leadership for years. He deserves the chance. He has earned it.

Downtown parent said...

Maurice Cannon has been associated with Burke for over 7 years. He's not new to this scene. He was part of the school’s leadership team when it was twice threatened with closure by the state. His current 3 year contract runs its course at the end of this year.

The current Burke principal isn't really vested in the community any more than the last two principals were. He is loyal, yes, but it's to the superintendent who provided him with his $125,000 annual compensation package. Actually it’s more when you include all bonuses. The principal is part of the problem at Burke. The students, the school and the community deserve better. They have deserved better ever since Dr. Francis was dismissed by the superintendent, three principals ago.