Tuesday, May 31, 2016

No Downside to Takeover of CCSD's Burns Elementary

Reading the latest state report card for Burns Elementary could make you cry. Despite the best efforts of teachers and administrators, its at-risk performance continues to stun with horrific percentages of children not meeting standards in any subject. For a look at these statistics, see the following PDF:
Burns Elementary Report Card 2015

What will change the dismal-looking outcomes for Burns students? Not more of the same. It's been tried to death.

So it's mysterious why objections have been raised to a program that seems to be working in an outstanding way for two other schools: According to a recent editorial, "Millicent Brown, co-founder of the Quality Education Project, worries that the school would not be accountable to the district, although it would have a board of trustees comprised of representatives of both Meeting Street Schools and CCSD — one of them Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait." 

Who is Millicent Brown? From her biographical note at the Avery Research Center, 
"In 1948, Millicent Ellison Brown was born in Charleston, South Carolina to MaeDe and J. Arthur Brown. Her father was the local and state president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1963, Millicent replaced her older sister Minerva as the primary plaintiff in a NAACP-sponsored lawsuit Millicent Brown versus Charleston County School District #20. Filed to desegregate the Charleston public school system, the lawsuit resulted in Brown becoming one of two African-American students to integrate Rivers High School in 1963. Graduating from Rivers High School in 1966, Brown the attended the College of Charleston and received her B.A. in History, 1975. She  received her M.Ed. in Education from The Citadel in 1978. From 1989 to 1991, Brown served as the Director of Exhibits and Museum Education at the Avery Research Center. Brown earned a Ph.D. in History from Florida State University in 1997, writing her dissertation on history of civil rights activism in Charleston from 1940 to 1970.
Dr. Brown's remarks must carry some weight in conversations about the history of desegregation in CCSD--she lived it. However, it's been 50 years since she attended Charleston County public schools. Does she really believe that a conspiracy is now afoot in the district? A conspiracy to do what? Re segregate schools? That's already happened! Burns Elementary is a good example. How would a public/private partnership make things any worse?

Even the NAACP's Dot Scott agrees such a partnership is worth trying at Burns. So far, it's working at Brentwood. 

Who would've thunk it?

1 comment:

Clisby Williams said...

One downside is that it would be illegal under current state law. That's why the state Education Dept. staff recommended against it - the state law allows a district only one School of Choice.

Another is the lack of transparency. Where is the documentation of the testing gains? Remember the miracle worker of Sanders-Clyde? We should all be a little skeptical of this.

Also - the whole point of setting up a state-approved School of Choice ought to be to try out something different with the idea that, if it succeeds, CCSD itself could replicate the program. So, what do we know about Brentwood? We know CCSD is spending about $13,000 per student. How much is MSA (or Sherman Financial Group, or other private donors) contributing? Unless we know that, we don't know how much it costs, so we have no frame of reference to decide how financially feasible that model is.

If CCSD were acting with due diligence, the Memorandum of Agreement would specify at least 2 things: Everything to do with Brentwood is subject to the FOIA; and CCSD is either administering or monitoring all relevant testing.