Wednesday, July 30, 2014

CCSD Delays List for Projects Funded by Sales Tax Extension

What's the problem, folks? The Charleston County School Board, under the advice of Michael Bobby, has completed its list of projects to be funded by the sales tax extension up  for a vote this fall. Yet the list is so special that it can't be shared yet with the voters.

No doubt the propaganda campaign is still in the works. You know, the one that will guarantee that the measure will pass by giving every corner of Charleston County a reason to vote for its own pork.

No one disputes that some schools are needed, especially in fast-growing Mount Pleasant. Some of us thought two high schools were needed when they built the new Wando. But, please, schools of "advanced studies" at West Ashley and North Charleston High Schools? The latter, especially, has plenty of extra room already and was renovated recently. This need to spread the pork around for votes leads to unnecessary squandering of tax dollars. How about raising property taxes in parts of the district where schools are really needed instead.

Vote "no" on this sales tax extension. They can call it a "penny" all they want, but how many items do you purchase that cost a dime?


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Postponed Vote on Murray-Lasaine's Montessori a CCSD Stalling Tactic

The  Charleston County School District has two faces. First, that of Tom Ducker, who expected a vote on full Montessori at the July 28 Board meeting; second, that of Michael Bobby, whose minions press ahead with building and renovating a full Montessori program for the school. Of course, some might inquire why classrooms cannot be configured as either-or, but that idea is not on Bobby's radar screen.

Bobby: Full steam ahead; damn the torpedos; School Board: let's stall until these troublemakers lose interest since the building's going full steam ahead. NAACP: we don't care.

When did the Charleston County School Board ever pay attention to what parents actually want? What would parents know anyway? They're not educrats.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Selling Common Core to the Masses

Reported by Diane Ravitch:

Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post reported that the Hunt Institute in North Carolina received more than $5 million from the Gates Foundation to organize support for the brand-new, unknown, untested Common Core standards. Organizing support meant creating the message as well as mobilizing messengers, many of whom were also funded by the Gates Foundation.

In Layton's blockbuster article about how the Gates Foundation underwrote the rapid adoption of "national standards" by spreading millions of dollars strategically, this remarkable story was included:

"The foundation, for instance, gave more than $5 million to the University of North Carolina-affiliated Hunt Institute, led by the state’s former four-term Democratic governor, Jim Hunt, to advocate for the Common Core in statehouses around the country.

"The grant was the institute’s largest source of income in 2009, more than 10 times the size of its next largest donation. With the Gates money, the Hunt Institute coordinated more than a dozen organizations — many of them also Gates grantees — including the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, National Council of La Raza, the Council of Chief State School Officers, National Governors Association, Achieve and the two national teachers unions.

"The Hunt Institute held weekly conference calls between the players that were directed by Stefanie Sanford, who was in charge of policy and advocacy at the Gates Foundation. They talked about which states needed shoring up, the best person to respond to questions or criticisms and who needed to travel to which state capital to testify, according to those familiar with the conversations.

"The Hunt Institute spent $437,000 to hire GMMB, a strategic communications firm owned by Jim Margolis, a top Democratic strategist and veteran of both of Obama’s presidential campaigns. GMMB conducted polling around standards, developed fact sheets, identified language that would be effective in winning support and prepared talking points, among other efforts.

"The groups organized by Hunt developed a “messaging tool kit” that included sample letters to the editor, op-ed pieces that could be tailored to individuals depending on whether they were teachers, parents, business executives or civil rights leaders."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why the advocates for the Common Core standards have the same rhetoric, the same claims, no matter where they are, because the campaign was well organized and well messaged.

What the campaign did not take into account was the possibility of pushback, the possibility that the very lack of public debate and discussion would sow suspicion and controversy. What the advocates forgot is that the democratic way of making change may be slow and may require compromise, but it builds consensus. The Common Core standards, thanks to Gates' largesse, skipped the democratic process, imposed new standards on almost every state, bypassing the democratic process, and is now paying the price of autocratic action in a democratic society.

dianeravitch | July 10, 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Montessori Key to Integrating CCSD's Murray-Lasaine?

The percentage of black students at Murray-Lasaine has dropped from 80 to 68 since Montessori was introduced into this James Island elementary school. That result is exactly what the Charleston County School District hoped for. Not so the surrounding community of black parents who have sent their children to a traditional, mostly black school for decades. The NAACP, usually so vocal on such matters, remains silent on this one.

The reality is that black parents want control of "their" school. CCSD wants integration. After all, the attendance zone for Murray-Lasaine is now 83 percent white. White parents want Montessori so that their children can work at their own speed. Black parents want the community of a traditionally black classroom.

So why is CCSD so adamant in jettisoning the traditional classroom from Murray-Lasaine? Because it fears segregation within the school will replace segregation without. 

Superintendent McGinley and her cohort of "experts" are confident they know what's best for black students on James Island. They really don't care what present black parents think because they answer to no one except a school board loaded with a majority of McGinley sycophants.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Common Crore Basic Reading Standards Meant for Top Students Only

Even those who helped write the standards for Common Core are upset. Read on.

CCSS Writer Blasts CC Basic Reading Standards

by dianeravitch
Dr. Louisa Moats was part of the team that wrote the foundational reading standards for the Common Core. In "Psychology Today," she strongly criticized the standards.
Among other things, she said:
"I never imagined when we were drafting standards in 2010 that major financial support would be funneled immediately into the development of standards-related tests. How naïve I was. The CCSS represent lofty aspirational goals for students aiming for four year, highly selective colleges. Realistically, at least half, if not the majority, of students are not going to meet those standards as written, although the students deserve to be well prepared for career and work through meaningful and rigorous education.
"Our lofty standards are appropriate for the most academically able, but what are we going to do for the huge numbers of kids that are going to “fail” the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) test? We need to create a wide range of educational choices and pathways to high school graduation, employment, and citizenship. The Europeans got this right a long time ago.
"If I could take all the money going to the testing companies and reinvest it, I’d focus on the teaching profession – recruitment, pay, work conditions, rigorous and on-going training. Many of our teachers are not qualified or prepared to teach the standards we have written. It doesn’t make sense to ask kids to achieve standards that their teachers have not achieved! "

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bill Gates Owns Common Core: How that Happened

According to Diane Ravitch,

Horton: Not a Conspiracy Theory: The Gates Foundation Bought Control of U.S. Education
by dianeravitch
A year ago, Paul Horton wrote a letter to Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, asking him to conduct hearings on the Common Core and Race to the Top, and specifically to inquire about the role of the Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation in shaping federal education policy. Nothing happened. Now that the world knows that the Gates Foundation, working in alliance with the U.S. Department of Education, underwrote the creation and promotion of the Common Core standards; now that we know that Bill Gates bought and paid for "a swift revolution" that bypassed any democratic participation by the public; now that we know that this covert alliance created "national standards" that were never tried out anywhere; now that we know that the Gates Foundation's willingness to invest $2 billion in Common Core enabled that foundation to assume control of the future of American education: it is time to reconsider Horton's proposal. How could Congress sit by idly while Arne Duncan undermines state and local control to the chosen designees of the Gates Foundation? How could Congress avert its eyes as public education is redesigned to create a marketplace for vendors?
Public education IS a marketplace for vendors. Now one of them has cornered the market!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

P & C Ignores Important Facts About "University of Charleston"

We have either wilfully ignorant or totally biased reporters at the P & C. That much can be gleaned from a College of Charleston professor's op-ed in Wednesday's paper. During all the hoopla did you ever hear that CofC would lose important grants if it became an R1 institution? 

Read the following and be enlightened.

McConnell right not to push expanded University of Charleston
Jul 9 2014 12:01 am
On June 21 The Post and Courier's Diane Knich reported that a Commission on Higher Education official informed incoming College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell that the College need not seek legislative authorization to initiate Ph.D. programs as a Research I University, because the CHE has the authority to grant that status itself.
Mr. McConnell's public response was understandably cautious, and he expressed interest in submitting another bill to the General Assembly.
Columnist Brian Hicks, in the June 27 Post and Courier, was much less cautious, and less prudent, effectively declaring that, since the General Assembly was behaving so parochially in this matter, Mr. McConnell and House Speaker Bobby Harrell should bypass the General Assembly and seek CHE approval.
In his opinion piece, Mr. Hicks also cast Jim Merrill and Leon Stavrinakis as local heroes in the cause of promoting a University of Charleston bill. But they proposed a forced marriage between MUSC and the college, two institutions with very different missions, faculties and staffs.
They acted without consulting with constituencies at either institution or the CHE.
It was a ham-handed, ill-considered political stunt, and set a very bad tone with the Legislature for subsequent debate on the issue.
Mr. Hicks might be right that parochial forces are at work in the General Assembly on this issue, but they are not all in the Upstate.
Further, the C of C faculty has not been consulted as to which graduate programs might be worthwhile endeavors for a University of Charleston.
What discussion has transpired on such matters has taken place entirely at the level of local politicians and general business interests. It does not seem to have occurred to Mr. Hicks or to The Post and Courier editorial staff that those might not be the only useful or informed perspectives.
There are, for example, significant student/faculty research grant opportunities associated with undergraduate status for which the college would no longer be eligible, were it to be assigned Research I designation.
And while R1 does open new avenues for grants, the college would be unable to compete effectively in that pool without major investments in graduate program infrastructure.
One of the biggest concerns for C of C faculty (and administration) has been the issue of funding the college's current operations. Then-outgoing C of C President George Benson summarized the problem neatly in his June 19 letter to the editor: "Of all 121 public universities in the country that are roughly the College's size, we receive the lowest state appropriation per student."
Given that longer legislative track record, and the more recent history of failed attempts to push University of Charleston legislation through, how likely is it that legislators would adequately fund expensive new programs at the College of Charleston?
Not very, if President McConnell and Speaker Harrell were to attempt an end run around the General Assembly.
The General Assembly doesn't adequately fund the College now. Incoming President McConnell is quite right to proceed cautiously in this matter.
Department of Philosophy
College of Charleston
George Street

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

CCSD Gets Ready to Soak the Poor Again with Sales Tax

Perhaps the new education reporter for the P&C doesn't realize that new schools can be built with property tax money? Certainly, her reporting on the ongoing shenanigans of the Charleston County School Board and the district's chief financial officer, Michael Bobby, seems to ignore the possibility.

Once again CCSD will promise new building projects all over Charleston County in order to get enough votes to renew the one percent sales tax. The district will try to tell you that tourists will contribute mightily to the coffers under this system. Don't drink the Kool Aid. Sales taxes are regressive and fall most heavily on the poor. Apparently CCSD believes that the poor, not the property owners, should pay for new buildings and technology. 

Don't hold your breath until CCSD runs out of schools to raze or improve to the tune of millions of dollars. Yes, Mt. Pleasant needs more schools. Why inflate what's really needed to get votes from all corners of the county?  So that the school sales tax will pass.

Where's the outside audit when we need it?