Monday, September 21, 2015

Single-sex Education for Middle School Works--In Ways Not Always Measurable

Today's article on single-sex education in the Charleston County School District focused on Morningside Middle School in North Charleston. Paul Bowers makes several points that need to be clarified.

First of all, while it is true that public school single-sex education became legal in 2001, in the nineteenth century, and well into the twentieth, practically no one blinked an eye at separating the sexes for educational purposes.

Second, if "lack of parent interest" in CCSD has caused the number of offered classes to drop, the blame lies solely with CCSD, not parents. The district simply hasn't made the effort to educate parents about its benefits.

Further, the exodus of students to other schools is not necessarily due to Morningside's being single sex. Bowers writes, "Parents can send their children elsewhere in the district if they do not want their children to attend a single-gender academy, and in the 2014-2015 school year, about one-third of parents with middle schoolers in the Morningside attendance zone did so. The largest share of those students, 122, transferred to Military Magnet Academy." That may be true, but what number does "one-third" represent? Did the majority transfer to MMA? What percentage of the one-third sent students to that magnet?

Finally, the effects of single-sex education may include higher test scores, but that goal is only one aspect of education. Anyone who has taught students at this level knows the great disparities in maturity that exist between boys and girls of this age. An older educator once suggested to me that having girls in a classrom of boys "civilized" the boys. Maybe so, but the effect on girls is not so salubrious. Are girls less likely to speak out in a coed classroom? You betcha! In fact, even in high school girls are reluctant to speak out around boys.

In other words, single-sex education greatly enhances the self-confidence in girls, and that self-confidence will carry over into the rest of their lives.

You can't measure that with a test score.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Fixing CCSD's North Charleston High School Overnight

Finally, thanks to a somewhat biased series of articles on the Charleston County School District's students who have been left behind, the logjam in the district seems to be breaking up. Not only has the proposal been made to put the Lowcountry Tech into Burke (the NAACP's Dot Scott must be apoplectic!!!), but School Board member Michael Miller has made the most revolutionary suggestion of all: stop overloading NCHS with students reading at (or below!) the fourth-grade level.

The feeder schools for the high school should not be sending students reading on that low level on to the ninth grade. Major intervention needs to occur. It's cruel to send such students into a situation where they cannot succeed! That's more cruel than repeating a year containing intensive reading instruction.

Of course, NCHS needs more varied courses for its students. However, loading it with all the courses in the world will not solve the problem of seriously deficient freshmen.

This solution is so politically incorrect, Michael Miller, that I'm surprised the newspaper reported it!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Postlewait Promises CCSD "Miracle on Enterprise Street"

Among the 40 goals proposed by new Charleston County School Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait is the following:"Postlewait wants to ensure at least 10 percent of each eighth-grade class meets the academic criteria for admission to Academic Magnet High School in response to concerns over the increasing lack of diversity at the top-ranked high school in the district and the state."

Shall we talk turkey?

AMHS has diversity; what it does not have is many black students. "Diversity" is seemingly the new code word for integration of black students--this year only 12 out of 650 at the school.

Board member Michael Miller seems the voice of reason:
Postlewait’s 10 percent plan “sounds good in theory,” said board member Michael Miller, but he’s worried about implementation.
“How do you make that work?” he said. “Don’t get me wrong. Maybe she will bring us information to tell us how we’ll get to that point, but as of right now, there ain’t no way in hell you’re gonna get 10 percent of those kids in those schools just because those schools don’t offer the classes those kids need to score well enough at Academic Magnet.”
Data from the school district shows that students from predominately black and lower-income middle schools rarely apply and are rarely accepted into Academic Magnet. For example, at Jerry Zucker, Sanders-Clyde and Northwoods middle schools, none of the 18 total students who applied to go there this year were accepted. At Burke, not one eighth-grader submitted an application.
As usual, the devil is in the details. All of us wish that the top 10 percent of every eighth grade in the district would meet the criteria. Does that mean the criteria will change and the district will institute a lottery system? Will Postlewait perform miracles with the sixth- and seventh-graders now in the system? Even with her experience in Horry County, as Coats suggests, it's hard to foresee that outcome in the near future.

Please, prove me wrong, Gerrita!

CCSD School Board Mops Up After Herring Fiasco

Charleston County School Board members must be breathing sighs of relief this week: Lisa Herring, who had been put forward as a potential new superintendent and then snubbed in the final process, promised not to sue them. According to the agreement reached between Herring and the district, "Herring agrees to 'execute a general release of claims against CCSD, its Board of Trustees and each trustee individually, officers, employees and agents.'”

A new position of deputy superintendent was created for Herring, with a salary of $140,000 per year plus benefits. The district will also pay her legal fees amounting to about $35,000.

It's been a steep learning process for Board Chairman Cindy Bohn Coats. Let's hope she's learned from the process.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Burke's Stoney Field is CCSD's Shame

How much has the Charleston County School District spent on renovations and new buildings in the last few years? Tens of millions of dollars. Yet Burke High does not yet have a "level playing field" (pun intended) for its football team. And it appears that CCSD plans no renovation of Stoney Field for the near future.

And they wonder why students choose to go elsewhere?

Now Burke will be playing its "home" games at the stadium built in West Ashley for St. Andrews Parish High School only 55 years ago. That should help with attendance from the local neighborhood. Not.

What makes renovation of such low priority? Is there some kind of conspiracy here, or is CCSD run by idiots?

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Park Circle Friends Boost North Charleston High Athletics

For those of you not on Facebook:

Park Circle Friends Nurturing Public Schools
I met with Principal Grimm today who said the game last Friday night brought in nearly $1500 after their pay out to security, etc. They typically profit $0. These funds go right into the athletics department! Let's continue to show North Charleston High School our Cougar Pride! Go to the games and invite your friends! It's a simple and fun way to support the school.

CCSD's Herring Back in Controversy: CAO, DSFA, or Gone?

The gang that couldn't shoot straight, AKA the Charleston County School Board, has Lisa Herring, Chief Academic Officer [CAO], in its sights once again. You may recall the fiasco caused by naming her as one of three finalists for the position now held by Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait and then backing down because she had no experience as a superintendent. It should come as no surprise that Herring has hired ex-Superintendent McGinley's lawyer.

Now plans are afoot to renegotiate the terms of her contract, an issue discussed in executive session at a special meeting on Tuesday. Board member Chris Collins, a candidate for mayor of North Charleston, spilled the beans, or most of them, to reporter Deanna Pan. Accordingly, the following news appeared Wednesday:
"Board member Chris Collins, who abstained from voting [to approve a confidential motion], later told The Post and Courier the motion included several proposals regarding Herring’s employment in the district, such as “some type of settlement” that would allow her to continue working through the end of school year and a “clean buyout.”

“The overall goal was to try to get rid of her. But there was one offer to restore her position,” Collins said.

"Herring’s contract was last amended in November following McGinley’s resignation. She was promoted to deputy superintendent for academics [DFSA] and given a $4,200 monthly supplement to her salary. Under the terms of her contract addendum, Herring is “entitled to continue employment as in a position comparable to her former role as CAO” as soon as the board hires a new superintendent or in the event she that “is no longer designated as DSFA.”
Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall at these executive sessions?

Sunday, September 06, 2015

What Ever Happened to Dorchester District 4?

Here's a question for reporter Brenda Rindge and our erstwhile newspaper: Did you forget that Dorchester District 4 exists?

How else to explain that under the headline, "Tri-county enrollment continues to climb," would you list totals for Dorchester 2, Berkeley, and Charleston County schools. Tri-county means "three counties" the last time I checked.

Maybe Rindge should consider that the stats for Dorchester County versus the other two look so good because that county is split in two? I don't recall seeing any stories about the problems of the other half of that county, either. Maybe that has something to do with the larger black population of Dorchester District 4; maybe our reporters are geographically-challenged.

And while I'm wondering if our local paper has any editors, the following grammatical atrocity did not escape notice. In writing about the new St. Andrews Elementary, the reporter noted that "The school has roughly the same amount of students as it previously did."

She weighed them?