Wednesday, September 28, 2016

CCSD's Ducker Too Dumb to Remain on School Board

Image result for tom ducker charleston sc

We know we set the bar low to qualify citizens for the Charleston County School Board of Trustees, but member Tom Ducker's actions have made the others look brilliant. Perhaps he confused the low standard for being eligible for Buist's lists (owning property in the district) for his own standard to remain on the school board.

See school-board-members-eligibility-questioned-as-governance-vote-looms

He could have continued to live in two houses, one inside the district, and remained eligible if he had kept his voter registration at the old address. Then he would legally be a registered voter in the district. It's not like he was pressured into changing his voting address. Now he's a registered voter in another county.


What to do now? Please resign and save us from this embarrassment.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

CCSD's Stono Park Finally Gets Its Just Deserts

Image result for stono park elementary charleston sc

In the six years since the Charleston County School District announced its list of winners in the "We Get a New Building" contest, Stono Park hung on patiently till the end--until the district said, "Oops, we didn't really mean that." 

The 65-year-old building suffered the same fate as that of Lincoln High--since enrollment declined, the district chose not to upgrade. Soon parents weren't sending their children because of classroom conditions--bugs, mold, all the usual suspects in a subtropical climate. 

Fortunately, the uproar of parents and community leaders, as well as lobbying by school board members, finally gained traction this month. Stono Park Elementary will get a new building as long as it redraws its sending boundaries to include more students. Couldn't boundaries have been changed years ago to stem the decline? 

Here's a thought. 

The district changed its mind due to pressure. Once the school board gives up its powers, will pressure to fulfill the community's desires even be possible? 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Elected to Give Up Powers? CCSD Board Forging New Ground

While the Charleston County School District's Board of Trustees has sometimes acted like the gang who couldn't shoot straight, the new governance plan proposed by outside consultants appears to strip them of almost all responsibilities. And they are the only voice that taxpayers have in the district.

"Appears to strip" because so far the proposal has so little detail that no one could make a judgment whether it is good or bad. 

See charleston-county-school-board-could-redefine-its-role 

The most obvious question is where the Board gets the authority to change its role in the district. Citizens did not vote for board members based on their vows to give up responsibilities to the superintendent. 

How does giving up responsibilities affect the role of constituent boards, also elected? Do they give up powers also? Was this the vision contemplated when the Act of Consolidation became law so many decades ago?

Voters should query this year's school board candidates: do yon plan on giving up responsibilities to the superintendent?

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

CCSD's Charter Schools Not Creators of Racial Disparities

Finally paying attention to the racial disparities in the Charleston County School District, our legislative delegation held a forum for CCSD Superintendent Postlewait and local by-invitation-only activists (presumably) Tuesday night. 

See legislative-panel-highlights-racial-disparities-in-charleston-county-schools

Why it was even necessary for anyone to "paint a dismal portrait" of how black students fare in the system remains a mystery. Perhaps they thought someone hadn't been paying attention. No, the real question is why the district has schools that are de facto segregated, a mystery that has puzzled me since I began this blog more than a decade ago. See, while I lived in other parts of the country, I just assumed that the city's schools were desegregated long ago. Silly me.

While Charleston County has a sizable portion of black students, the percentage doesn't begin to approach the 90 to 98 percent found in so many of the county's schools. The short answer is, when Charleston County's schools desegregated and consolidated decades ago, those in authority made a mess of it. We live with the results.

Only the most dense could disagree with Jon Butzon: 
“We cannot have a productive, effective, honest discussion about public education in this state without talking about race. It has to be front and center,” said John Butzon, former chairman of the Education Network. “If you doubt that, just look at the numbers. Look at the data. Get out of the opinion business and look at the data.”
Publicity surrounding the ACT results of the first time all SC students took the test has brought racial problems to the forefront. Since many of Charleston County's black students are poor, it's hardly a surprise that they attend schools full of poor students, given housing patterns in the county. Demanding low-income or Section 8 housing in, for example, Snee Farms or I'On hardly seems likely to succeed.

Yet the lack of veteran teachers and access to more varied curricula should be addressed more fully. Rep. Gilliard's claim of being "up against a different type of monster here" and statement that someone deliberately "designed" the lack of academic success among the county's black students, falls into the unfortunate category of race-baiting. It may sound tough to some of his constituents but sheds no light on solutions.

Rep. Limehouse, on the other hand, dismisses the disparities too lightly as not "all doom and gloom." The problem is not that all students should be college bound (although too many politicians think so) but that they at minimum need to be prepared for jobs available locally. Having CCSD "offer advanced manufacturing courses for students as early as middle school" would not only help the local economy but also help students to stay interested in school.

Board members Miller and Coats at least had proposals that the legislative delegation could address, unlike some other comments. Both loan forgiveness for new teachers and flexibility in allocating funding are within the purview of the legislature. 

No discussion would be complete, however, without mentioning the NAACP's war on charter schools. In fact, according to Joe Darby, such schools are the cause of de facto segregation in the district. Actually, they are a result and a symptom of failure. Darby seemed to call for demolishing all magnet schools such as Academic Magnet and School of the Arts. Not going to happen, Joe.

Although the legislative delegation plans another meeting in January, a rehash of CCSD's problems hardly seems productive. What will the delegation do in those six months? 

Will there be an accounting in January or simply hot air?  

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

With Waldorf, Charleston Reaches Critical Mass of Progressivism

Image result for waldorf school curriculum chart

With tongue-in-cheek, the Atlantic four years ago titled an article, "Is This Grade School a Cult? (And Do Parents Care?). See  Is This Grade School a Cult?

It's a weird charge to make regarding an elementary school that has branches all over the world with trendy parents fighting for places in progressive capitols such as New York. Yet if you read the background to this granola-based educational method, you can easily see the reason: it originally drew inspiration from a form of theosophy. Think communicating with the dead.

In the anti-tech world of Waldorf (name from a German manufacturer, not a hotel), children learn to read at eight or nine because their earlier education revolves around activities such as carpentry. Seems harmless since most of its middle-class students whose parents can pay the freight will learn from their relatively enriched environments anyway. Maybe some parents are even tuned to the "spirit" of the Waldorf.

Charleston County truly has arrived as a trendy place to live. The sole puzzle is why the school is in West Ashley instead of Mt. Pleasant.