Friday, May 08, 2015

Darby's Confused Plans for CCSD's Burke High School

In Wednesday's op-ed ("Heed Burke's Past Lessons While Deciding Its Future"), the Rev. Joseph A. Darby typically wears his two hats--one as a presiding elder in the AME church, the other as first vice-president of the Charleston Branch NAACP. Darby seems to believe that "progress" is about to close Burke High School.

Never mind that Darby, who graduated from high school in Columbia, bases his Burke opinions on second-hand information. It would be nice, however, if he could separate politics from religion occasionally. Burke's fate will not be decided by the AME Church; his is a political opinion on a secular topic!

Darby is "concerned" by what he calls "the sudden interest in Burke" on the part of District 20 parents (that's the peninsula for those of you from off), a mixed group of black and white. This constituent school board wants to consider all options to improve what is a de facto segregated school.

Good grief, man! Don't we want parents to take an interest? And is this really "sudden" interest?

No, what really concerns Darby is that someone mentioned the word "charter." Further, somehow he equates the use of the phrase "proud history" with white takeover. Darby seems to forget that the High School of Charleston had its own proud history, and "progress" favored the all-black Burke over the originally all-white school. Darby fears that, given the majority of students living on the peninsula are white, somehow that majority will make Burke into something new. Well, an integrated school would be new for this decade.

Given its list of failures ad nauseum over the last  few decades, maybe something new for Burke isn't bad.

In his own version of "waving the bloody shirt," Darby reiterates the old "game plan" for Burke when established in 1911: to produce "cooks, maids, and delivery boys"--and how the school itself foiled that plot.  Instead of parroting the  past, how about giving that oft-quoted statement 10 minutes of critical thinking? Why would cooks, maids, and delivery boys need high school? Transmission over 100 years has garbled the past. Imagine that!

No one could quarrel with Darby's stated future plans for Burke as a center of excellence. If he ever wonders what explains the reluctance of white parents to send their children to "predominantly black schools" besides racism, he should contemplate the poor rating of every predominantly-black school in the county! Why would white parents with choices send their children to failing schools?  No parent wants his or her child to be an educational experiment, white or black.

Darby cites past lack of funding as the the root cause of Burke's demise. Unfortunately, if more money were the answer, Burke would have pulled out of its nose-dive years ago. His is a typical liberal solution to a much more complex problem.

Darby still lives in the past, where fifty years ago racist white parents avoided integrated schools and where more money was always the solution. Burke will not reach his goals based on those ideas.

Meanwhile, under the present administration and policies, a proud high school goes down for the count.

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