Sunday, February 14, 2016

Why Can't CCSD Fix Failing Schools Without Private Sponsorship?

As another of the Charleston County School District's elementary schools, Burns Elementary, falls under the management of Meeting Street Schools, Charleston County residents have cause for hope and cause for questioning the organization of the district with its at-large, elected, nonpartisan school board and appointed superintendent. As Board member Michael Miller has pointed out, "With all the minds and degrees and experience of this district, . . . we have to rely on them to do our job. That is sad."

Not only sad, but costly. The jury has not come back with its final verdict on the efficacy of Meeting Street Schools, but initial results show incredible promise for students who, for too long, have been locked into a cycle of poverty and ignorance. We can disparage the failings of No Child Left Behind, yet one positive result, if you can call it that, was that required testing meant schools such as Burns could no longer be swept under the rug. What Miller said rings true: "We've been doing Burns wrong for so long that we can't wait another second to get it right."

Let's hope that CCSD analyzes what actions it can take to make all its elementary schools as effective as Meeting Street Schools' management promises. How much difference does making hiring and firing decisions independently make? Or is it the longer school day and year and careful involvement of parents that make the difference? Is it possible to replicate their results by changing policies without handing over the district's schools?

Just a cautionary tale. Let's also not forget that a certain principal at Sanders-Clyde worked wonders until false test results emerged. 

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