Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Curtains for CCSD's Lincoln High/Middle?

The last act appears to have begun on the existence of McClellanville's Lincoln High/Middle. Those students will now feel the brunt of the Charleston County School District's $18-million shortfall.

Superintendent Postlewait needs a spectacular plan for the students being displaced. Throwing them willy-nilly into giant Wando High School is not a plan, nor are hours-long bus rides.

The School Board could sweeten the blow by planning construction of a new Awendaw-MeClellanville High School ASAP. It need not be behemoth--800 students makes sense. Population is moving up Highway 17 towards that area, so the Board could actually plan in advance of overcrowding (already happening at Wando).

They'd better put their heads together over this one!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

CCSD's Bridge to Nowhere Stolen

The title five days ago on this blog was "Postlewait Saves CCSD from Bridge to Nowhere." [see below] Today's lead editorial's title says, "That 'Bridge'  Was to Nowhere" and rehashes my thoughts. "Some teachers said from the start that the Bridge program to reward high-performance teachers was a bad idea."

You can read the rest here:

Friday, April 22, 2016

CCSD's Great News: Magnets + Unintended Consequences

According to US News & World Report's latest rankings, the Charleston County School District's Academic Magnet ranks No. 3 among magnet schools in the nation, No. 8 in high schools overall. and No. 1 overall in the State of South Carolina. You can't hope for a much better showing than that. Not to be outdone, CCSD's School of the Arts also performed admirably, ranking No. 2 in South Carolina, and Wando came in at No. 6 in the state.  Kudos to all!

Yet, while we're focusing on great achievements, we also need to remember the costs: CCSD also has the greatest number of failing schools in the state. 

How can that be? Is there a connection?

Imagine a bottle of milk that has not been homogenized. The cream is at the top, ready to be skimmed off for all sorts of good cooking. What's left behind is skim milk. There are uses for skim milk, but it will never be as nourishing as regular milk. 

Guess what: that's exactly what's happened to the remaining high schools in the district. When Gregg Meyers decided that his children needed a better option to prepare them for college, he proposed the Academic Magnet. It's been everything he hoped for and more. Could any parent pass on his or her child's chance to attend this outstanding school? In like kind, the School of the Arts offers a way to those with other abilities to escape failing schools. 

Problem is, high-achievers' needs were met without consideration of the effect on the original high schools. In some ways, it's a Catch-22, damned if you do and damned if you don't. It's high time now for the CCSD School Board to figure out how to enrich the remaining schools with (to carry the analogy further) some cream.

The generally middle- and upper-class parents of high achieving students will have their needs met, or the School Board will get an earful. Even now, Buist parents are protesting a cut of an assistant principal during these lean times for the district. The parents of disadvantaged students are rarely as loud or effective as the foregoing. The School Board must make it a priority to look out for them too.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Postlewait Saves CCSD from Bridge to Nowhere

Ask an experienced teacher: was Superintendent McGinley's pay-for-performance BRIDGE program going to work? If she had started  with teachers' opinions, she could have saved us the trouble.

To be fair to McGinley, the program was practically rammed down the throats of many school districts looking for grants under Obama's Department of Education. Not only was it a waste of millions, but if continued it would have cost the district millions more of its OWN money.

Let's be realistic. It's not the teachers, stupid.

On the other hand, now that more high-paying careers beckon to female college graduates, it is time to revamp teacher pay completely.

Does anyone have the nerve to make that happen? Here in South Carolina where no teachers' union exists should be a good place to start.

Hire teachers just as if they were bank employees, etc. Trash the pay schedules and let principals and parental input decide who gets raises and who gets fired.

It's not rocket science.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Ideas on Saving CCSD's Small Schools

A group of Charleston County School District principals and others promised secrecy have now recommended the closing of the district's small schools because they are not cost effective. Secret because they need protection from the outrage such closings will foment in the communities involved. 

Without knowing any names, we can make assumptions. These participants are not from the communities involved. They are not originally from Charleston County itself. In fact, most of them are not even from the State of South Carolina. Prove me wrong.

Shelia Anderson's Letter to the Editor in Monday's paper is worth reading. While you may disagree with her conclusions about neighborhood schools, busing and choice, she is from Charleston County. Her questions are cogent: see
"What about allowing these schools to be all-purpose community facilities? Why not use some of that square footage for government offices, law enforcement satellite offices and clinics? We use them for voting. Why not expand on that?"
Well, Charleston County officials, how about it? 

Sounds like a plan to me. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Editorial Ignores Role of CCSD's Small Schools in Community

How do you measure in dollars a school's importance in a small community? Last week's editorial berated three state lawmakers--Robert Brown, Mary Tinkler, and Wendell Gilliard--for proposing that the state legislature ensure that schools important to small communities do not go first on the chopping block of financial reform.

The editorial seems to assume that the state never gets involved in the business of legislating rules for individual school districts. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, the composition of the Charleston County School District with its constituent boards is a case in point.

The proposed rules may not be a suitable answer to what should happen to small schools, but neither is the mantra that keeping them open for the community should be based solely on money. What the editorial board forgets is that much of Charleston County--the parts they rarely see--have a rural history that should not be erased by a school board elected based on county-wide results. Why should a majority of the population of Mt. Pleasant, for example, decide who represents the small community of McClellanville? That's not true representation.

Schools such as Jane Edwards on Edisto, Lincoln in McClellanville, and Baptist Hill in Hollywood are centers of community life. Take them away and the communities surrounding them will suffer greatly. As our culture becomes more and more fractured, such centers create value in themselves.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Spearman: Dumb Down GPA Because Everybody Else Does

Wouldn't it be startling if decisions about education in the State of South Carolina were made to improve academics? 

That idea's not even on the radar screen!

Without a dissenting vote, at Molly Spearman's bequest, the State Board of Athletics, excuse me, Education, voted to move to a 10-point grading scale so athletes who can't compete with the seven-point grading scale now in use will be able to show improved GPAs. The move does nothing to improve their ACT or SAT scores, which reveal true academic ability rather than sloth.

No doubt nonathletic students share their delight in this dumbing down of expectations. After all, more of them will qualify for in-state scholarships. Never mind that the academic standard to receive one of those rewards for hard work has been attenuated.

Never mind that the amount of money in South Carolina's scholarship fund won't cover the increased cost of providing those scholarships. 

All we need do is convince the poor to buy more lottery tickets to fund these semi-academic achievement awards for the middle class.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Another Boring CCSD Op-Ed

After two op-eds in the last month that seemed to disagree on the roles of charter schools and outside management such as Meeting Street Schools, the Charleston Couny School District Board of Trustees Chair, Cindy Bohn Coats, got her two cents in.

Actually, the op-ed wasn't really worth two cents. In her clumsy attempt to be conciliatory, Coats made the following points:

  1. Everyone in CCSD wants the best for its children.
  2. CCSD has many options that might work.
  3. Let's all agree to work together.
There, that took three short sentences. 

Monday, April 04, 2016

Joseph Darby Reveals His Prejudice on CCSDOnce Again

Yes, you probably realize that our local paper has little choice but to publish the op-ed rantings of the Reverend Joseph Darby, Charleston Branch NAACP's vice-president (of one of the most segregated branches in the country!). Since his opinions stay the same, no matter how obvious the facts, you might also wonder what percent of readers who start reading the op-ed actually read to the end of it. 

Darby's opinions in a nutshell: Everything that everyone does to try to improve public education is motivated by prejudice. Public-private partnership, charter school, magnet--they're all cut from the same cloth, and that cloth is the bloody shirt of segregation. Wouldn't you love to hear some specific improvements he supports besides the umbrella mantra of providing more support? You would think he'd welcome results such as those shown by Meeting Street Schools, but he doesn't. His silence might cause people to ask if a good education for black children is really what he's interested in.

Public school supporters have feared prejudiced people like Darby for too long. It's time to ignore the op-eds.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Wimpy Small Schools Editorial Sheds No Light on CCSD

Well, it's a little of this and a little of that. 

You've got to wonder why Sunday's editorial on closing Charleston County's small schools (Lincoln High and Jane Edwards) was published. Just to tell folks to think about it? Apparently so. 

And why let low-enrollment Burke off the hook?


The writer seems to believe that cost-per-student is the Holy Grail of determining whether or not schools should exist 

This business model of thinking needs to go into the trash along with this useless editorial!