Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Note to SC's Spearman: Teachers Not Leaving Because of Low Salaries

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How to solve a problem? Throw more money at it, of course.

That's the thought behind State Superintendent Molly Spearman's push to raise teacher salaries by 2 percent and those of beginning teachers by 6 percent. All increases are welcome in an underpaid profession, but the rationale behind her proposals is full of holes.

Other southern states have forged ahead of South Carolina in teacher pay. So? You mean to tell me that beginning teachers head for different states based on salary alone? You must be joking or incredibly ignorant. And aren't those same beginners leaving the profession in roughly the same percentage as they are here? Of course. It's not the money.

One of the disappointments concerns the flatness of the salary scale, and Spearman hopes to make it even flatter. After 25 years of teaching I'll make how much? You must be kidding! How about putting the six percent on the salaries of those who've weathered the storms for 10 years or more? They're more likely to stick around for 10 more.

Spearman needs a reputable survey of those leaving the profession, one where respondents need not fear repercussions for truth telling. It's too easy to say that the salary was too low instead of pointing out that the district's discipline policy makes teaching a nightmare or that scripted lessons from district staff insult the intelligence.

Please, throw money at the teachers, but remember that, in itself, will not solve the problem.

Monday, October 30, 2017

UPDATE: Garrett Academy in Balance: Attend Nov. 1 Community Meeting

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For those interested in what happens to Garrett Academy! This info not on CCSD website!

"Hello Community Members,

"[. . .] proposals from Kevin Hollinshead.  One is to put the CAS at the current Garrett campus and revitalize Garrett High School.  The other proposal would place the CAS and Garrett at a new campus at property located at Dorchester and Montague which is currently being purchased by CCSD (would also house the new football stadium).  Both proposals would keep Garrett Academy open and shift it from full magnet status to a partial magnet in order to prioritize zoned neighborhood access."

"There is a third proposal out from Cindy Bohn Coats that would place the CAS at Stall High School There is not a clear plan for Garrett Academy in that proposal.[. . .]"

"My information is that the Community Advisory Committee, which is led by Kevin Hollinshead, Cindy Bohn Coats, and Chris Collins, will meet on Wednesday, Nov 1, at 6:15pm at Garrett Academy.  I think that the committee members and 3 board members will vote on which proposal to recommend to the full board.  The full CCSD Board will hold a Special Board Meeting on Tuesday, Nov 2, at 5:00pm, at 75 Calhoun Street to vote on the placement of the CAS.  Both meetings are open to the public.  I cannot find official notification of these meetings on the CCSD web site."

"If you have contact info for people invited to serve on the Community Advisory Committee, please do forward this to them.  That information is not published anywhere, but I think it would be good for them to have this ahead of Wednesday evening."

Kristen French

Contact the above if you wish copies of the proposals.


From: Kristen French [mailto:frenchkl@gmail.com] 
Sent: Monday, October 30, 2017 9:08 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Update: Garrett and CAS

First a correction:  Here is the info I have on the two meetings this week: 
  • Community Advisory Committee, which is led by Kevin Hollinshead, Cindy Bohn Coats, and Chris Collins, will meet on Wednesday, Nov 1, at 6:15pm at Garrett Academy; proposals for locating the CAS with Garrett at the current location or at new property at Dorchester and Montague, or locating the CAS at Stall will be discussed.  The mission of the meeting is to come up with one recommendation for the Board.
  • CCSD Special Board Meeting on Thursday, Nov 2, at 5:00pm, at 75 Calhoun Street to vote on the placement of the CAS; The NCHS location is still on the agenda, but recommendations from the Community Advisory Committee will be reviewed first.
Also, Kurt Taylor, who is a member of the Community Advisory Committee, is happy to hear your views on these proposals.  His email is: wkt1023@gmail.com 

The word on the street (hard to confirm) is that if the CAS is not located with Garrett, Garrett Academy of Technology will be closed by 2020.  In addition, if the CAS placement is not decided this week, it is unlikely that the facility can be completed in time for opening August 2020 (according to CCSD Staff).
Kristen French, Ph.D.

Friday, October 27, 2017

When HaLevi Speaks, Postlewait Should Listen

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Stop disrupting; start collaborating!

"The public should ask, disrupting who, and what? Do they mean removing well- regarded principals like Lee Runyon at West Ashley High School and Jake Rambo at James B. Edwards Elementary School?

"Do they mean using test data in ways the testing company itself explicitly says it is not designed for? Even if we accept their premise that district leaders used disruptive management to make necessary cuts to the district office — a premise which does not stand up to scrutiny — the real disruption they are promoting in the district is happening in the form of incoherent and unethical management.

"Instead of celebrating disruption, board members would be wise to promote engagement and collaboration with teachers, parents and the community. Working collaboratively with teachers and school-based educators is far more likely to promote academic gains that are sustained over time.

"Engaging parents and the community in a meaningful dialogue about the educational challenges facing our community will almost certainly result in the good will necessary to carry out the change that the writers claim they want.

"Disruption as a strategy is simply “chaos” dressed up as management strategy — an excuse to make changes without a coherent plan. Educators, parents and community members know better, and we expect much more from the school board.

Andrew HaLevi
Board Street

Thursday, October 26, 2017

State Charter Schools Quarrel All About the Money

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When you're forced to state it's not about the money, it usually is. 

Erskine College's entry into the charter school oversight game has ruffled some feathers in the SC Public Charter School District that oversees nine charter schools hoping to switch managers. Most of the quarrel concerns whether the SCPCSD has overreached its contract with the schools. 

Some of the schools, several online, are "in breach" of standards they say are bogus. Others meet all those standards but wish to change anyway.

If the exodus is all about accountability, why would schools such as Oceanside Academy in Mt. Pleasant, one that meets all standards, wish to change?

"Aside from students' academic performance, a lot of money is on the line. Two of the online schools alone, SC Virtual and Cyber Academy, received a combined $33.5 million in state tax funding last school year, with some of that money going to the nationwide private charter management company K12 Inc. And whoever authorizes the schools in South Carolina gets a 2 percent cut."

"But [SCPCSD Board Chairman Don McLaurin]said the fight over transfers has nothing to do with his district's financial interests."

Yeah, right.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

CCSD Specialist's Remarks on Teachers Par for Course

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Patronizing. Disparaging. Arrogant.

Those three adjectives characterize remarks made by Amy Winstead, part of the administration of the Charleston County School District. Although Winstead probably didn't realize her faux pas, she's absorbed the attitude of administration versus teachers endemic at the Taj Mahal. 

Teachers aren't enthusiastic enough about another round of technological change? "'Sometimes the change makes them hesitant. Once they realize it’s not going to bite them, it’s fine.'”

Not surprisingly, someone with more than six years teaching at an elementary school responded in a Letter to the Editor last week. 

[. . .]
"While there are some teachers who are afraid of new technology, the vast majority love to learn new things and are shining examples of the “life-long learners” that CCSD claims to promote.

"Most “hesitant” teachers are thinking of the time that will be required of them. Time beyond their eight-hour school day. Time beyond the things they already do on evenings and weekends, like grading papers, record-keeping, emails, phone calls and conferences with parents, collaborative planning with other teachers, and attending after school events and meetings.

"The school district expects them to spend most of their time during the school day teaching and supervising students, with very little planning time to accomplish non-teaching tasks.

"They are hesitant because they know they will not only need to learn how to use the new platform, they will want to create lessons that use the technology to its fullest potential and in a way that improves student learning.

"They will need to take all of the hundreds (or maybe even thousands) of Smartboard lessons that they recently created specifically for their curriculum, which will be unusable once they no longer have a Smartboard, and convert those lessons to the new Promethean platform.[italics mine]

"This is an example of a pervasive problem in CCSD, and maybe the entire state. There is a lack of appreciation and a wanton disregard for teachers’ investment of time.

One way to improve this situation would be for the school district to identify teachers who are proficient in the Promethean platform and pay them to create lessons specifically designed for the district’s curriculum and textbooks. These teacher-created Promethean board lessons could then be provided to teachers when they get their Promethean board (not after), allowing them to modify the lessons to suit their students’ needs.

Cynthia Smith
Pelzer Drive
Mount Pleasant

Retired teachers can respond. Maybe next time Winstead will think before she speaks.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Kicking the Can? Pick Garrett for Center for Advanced Studies

What is it with the Charleston County School Board? It continues to try every which way to discourage building the Center for Advanced Studies at Garrett Academy, even to the extent of sending Teddie Pryor to a community meeting to suggest traffic problems. 

Is there some secret agenda?

Does anyone believe that Garrett Academy will survive once CAS is opened elsewhere, at Stall or wherever?

Did anyone in the district pay attention to the following Letter to the Editor? It begs for reposting.

Stall High School, indeed!

Build new Center for Advanced Studies at Garrett
By Jon Hale, Kendall Deas and Jesse Williams 
On Monday, the Charleston County School Board will vote to determine the location of the new Center for Advanced Studies (CAS) program in North Charleston. The Quality Education Project supports building the new CAS at Garrett High School as opposed to a different location.

First, building the new CAS in a location other than Garrett will jeopardize the future of this school, which serves over 400 students. This is yet again another proposal to close a school in a predominantly black neighborhood whose enrollment has been primarily African American. Moreover, this will negatively impact the community around Garrett High School. Building a school at North Charleston High School will benefit Park Circle, a neighborhood that is being gentrified.

Second, Garrett is already designated as a county-wide magnet school that focuses on trades. If the district has invested time and money into a trades program, it is unclear why a new trades program would not be housed at Garrett, a school that is a designated trades high school.

The above trades program has proven to be successful in helping students earn jobs and own businesses. For this reason, staff are vested in supporting Garrett Academy of Technology. We must build upon this legacy as opposed to letting it fail.

Third, alumni, parents, students and teachers at Garrett have spoken in favor of building the new CAS at Garrett. However, their voice appears to have been left out of deliberations among board members in board meetings. We believe that listening to the voice of the community is a crucial part of governing schools.

In addition to building the new CAS at Garrett, QEP believes that the board and district should develop a strong academic program to complement a trades program connected to a thriving local economy. The success of Academic Magnet High School has demonstrated that a rigorous academic course of study will attract students.

Lastly, in order to avoid past mistakes, it is important that Garrett Academy of Technology programming is marketed to middle school students and district staff are held accountable to the school board and community leaders as to what processes are in place to build a diverse pipeline of students across race and class lines attending Garrett.

We also feel that the choice process should be investigated by a committee to ensure that specific families have enough time and a reasonable process to enroll at the school. A line item budget should also be put in place to fund Garrett along with securing capital improvement dollars to provide appropriate funding for maintenance of Garrett Academy.

Finally, we also feel that Garrett Academy should not change or be converted in any way, and that this language is reflected within the new policy voted upon by Charleston County School Board.

Jon Hale and Kendall Deas are co-directors of the Quality Education Project and Jesse Williams is co-chair of the Quality Education Project’s Political Action Committee.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Just Make Lucy Beckham a High School

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Does it ever seem that the Charleston County School District makes a big show of soliciting community input in regard to actions that the community really doesn't care about and then ignores input when the community does care?

Such is the case with the scheduled events to ask if Lucy Beckham High School should begin as a ninth and tenth or go whole hog at the beginning and include the eleventh and twelfth grades. 

"Beckham High will be the second public high school in Mount Pleasant, helping to relieve overcrowding at Wando High, which is projected to serve more than 4,700 students by 2020. When the planned $94 million Beckham campus opens in the southwestern part of town at Whipple and Mathis Ferry roads, it will have a capacity of 1,500 students."

If it's relieving overcrowding, perhaps it should do that at every grade level.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Frierson Elementary Montessori Will Integrate Classes

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When an overwhelmingly black elementary school, such as Edith Frierson Elementary on Wadmalaw Island (92 percent) changes into a Montessori school, "racist" white parents will sent their children there. That's the background for a grass-roots effort to offer Montessori at that public school.


This phenomenon has already occurred at James Simons Elementary downtown. 

The answer is obviously politically incorrect. Middle-class parents of every ethnic background want their children challenged to achieve and fear the drag of a classroom composed of those from poor and high-risk backgrounds. Montessori answers that fear.

"At a Charleston County School Board committee meeting [earlier this month] members of the Frierson Elementary School Improvement Council, District 9 Constituent School Board and Johns Island Community Association, [. . .] endorsed the Montessori plan."

"Proponents of the idea say it could improve results for students, attract white families to local public schools from Wadmalaw and neighboring Johns Island, and boost enrollment at a school that has faced threats of closure in recent years due to low student headcounts."

Start up costs can be a problem, but in a district that can afford to squander millions on "improved" smartboards, we're talking about peanuts.

As one private Montessori school puts it, "Montessori programs are normally more expensive to organize and run than conventional classrooms due to the extensive teacher education needed to become certified and the very high cost of purchasing the educational materials and beautiful furniture needed to equip each Montessori classroom."

It's not like CCSD doesn't have the money! 

Has anyone asked, "Would you prefer new smartboards or getting a Montessori classroom?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Berkeley County Values Special Needs Students with Project Search

Special needs students who reach 18 in the Berkeley County School District have something to celebrate. Those who don't attend college or trade school can now participate in a well-tested program begun at Cincinnati Children's Hospital more than twenty years ago. It will allow individuals into "a school-to-work program that takes place at the workplace, where the students get classroom instruction and hands-on training." In this case, the Berkeley Council has stepped up to the plate and will begin the program at its county administration building.

"The immersion program targets students who are at least 18 and in their last year of school. Berkeley will start with about eight students who will be chosen through an application and screening process."

“'These are the kids that truly are sitting in some of our self-contained classrooms that are not earning a diploma but they have potential and they have skills,' said Kelly Wulf, district director of special services. 'Their strength may not be reading, but their strength can be fixing a car or doing something else.'”

"The students will start their day in a conference room at the county administration building that will double as a classroom and then spend the bulk of their day at work in any of the county’s departments. They will have three unpaid internships during the year that could be doing office work or manual labor."

“'What we know about our kids is that it might take them a little bit longer to learn a skill, but once they learn it, they know it and they can do it with true precision,' Wulf said."

“'To me this is just such a valuable experience for our kids that we should have one in every industry in the county,' Wulf said. 'It shows that the county is invested in our kids, and if the county can do it, hopefully other businesses will see that they can do it, too.'” 

More power to them! Let's hope other employers are paying attention. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

CCSD's Dumb and Dumber Moves with Smartboards

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Wow! Imagine having next-generation technology! We could change it every year! After all, we're not paying; it's other people's money!

Do you ever wonder how often these thoughts wander through the empty heads in the halls of the Taj Mahal? Every time a salesman from the edublob calls, I suspect.

The question is, has any research shown that using any kind of interactive smartboard actually increases learning? Bet not! It does increase work for teachers, however. 

"In addition to some new cutting-edge features and a sharper display, the Promethean panels will not require information technology workers to replace expensive projector bulbs, which have a tendency to burn out every few years."

Let's see: replacing "expensive projector bulbs" "every few years" compared to spending millions to replace the entire system. Hmm

Did anyone mention when installing the present $30 million smartboards that they would last only five to seven years? And now we hope for 10 years out of the replacements?

"The new technology has its skeptics, including school board member Michael Miller, who joined the unanimous vote for the upgrade in April. He said he has yet to see data that show previous technology upgrades, like the one that brought Chromebooks and iPads to every school in 2014, have improved student learning."

No kidding, but he voted for the expenditure anyway. 

Unanimous. Remember that when the next school board election comes around.

When voters approved the half-cent sales tax, did they really think the money would be squandered? It turns out that what voters want to spend money on, like increasing teachers' salaries, can't be funded with the tax. It's called "bait and switch" or the "fog of elections" or something like that.

The district was too embarrassed to provide the full cost of the replacement for what originally cost $30 million, stating it would be "at least" $14 million. For $4000 per classroom surely more effective ideas than replacing what already works can be found.

"Moultrie Middle English teacher and Charleston Teacher Alliance Director [and my hero] Jody Stallings remains skeptical, as well. He said most teachers use their SMART Boards as basic whiteboards or to show videos and Powerpoints — feats that could be accomplished much more cheaply. He doubts an expensive upgrade will change teachers' plans."

"'I'm sure there are a number of teachers who use them in more complex ways,' Stallings said in an email, 'but the reality is many (if not most) teachers either don't find the high-tech aspects useful for their curriculum and/or they do not have adequate time to prepare the complex, interactive lessons that the boards are capable of providing.'" 

Which begs the question: did anyone consult the teachers? 

Of course not.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Common Sense in CCSD Menu Revamp

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Why would anyone want to eat lukewarm cooked spinach, green beans, or carrots? When adults remember their most disliked school cafeteria meals, those sides rank right after mystery meat. In fact, does any adult have fond memories of public school lunches? If so, we'd like to hear about them. 

So it is a relief to hear that "Over the summer, Nutrition Services Officer Jeremy Tunstill helped set up test kitchens at North Charleston Creative Arts Elementary and Charleston County School of the Arts. During summer camps at the two schools, cafeteria staff brought small groups of students into the kitchen to rate a bevy of choices from US Foods and Limehouse Produce, which supplies fresh fruits and vegetables."

"'We reduced the hot vegetables,' Tunstill said. 'We found that they get thrown in the trash.'"

No kidding.

The Charleston County School District budgets nearly $30 million a year on food. That must make it one of the largest meal providers in the state. Of course, most of that comes from the feds, with a small portion paid by those few remaining students who actually pay their own way.

My youngest would have gone with the peanut butter and jelly sandwich everyday regardless.😄

Monday, October 16, 2017

Historically Black Neighborhood Gets Boeing's Support for Schools

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Nelson Rivers hopes to keep Liberty Hill a black community; Boeing's inadvertently trying to help.

"Liberty Hill was bought in 1864 by a free black man and his wife, who sold it to four families whose descendants still live there. But the neighborhood is now surrounded in the East Montague area by new development, much of which is unaffordable to those longtime residents, Rivers said."

If left to market forces, Liberty Hill might become unaffordable to its present residents; it might even become integrated, or the latest buzzword, "diverse." Rivers is struck with horror at the thought of gentrification. 

With the assistance of Rivers's Charity Foundation, the Charleston County School District, and Boeing, "special programs in science, technology, engineering and math at three schools serving the city's Liberty Hill community: North Charleston Elementary, Morningside Middle and North Charleston High" are planned.

"The education initiative is just one of four parts in a larger community revitalization effort called Transformation: Liberty Hill. Boeing, the Charleston County School District, the Coastal Community Foundation and the Charity Foundation are partnering with a mission 'to transform Liberty Hill into a community of multi-generational and economically stable individuals and families,' according to a press release."

"Under the agreement, Boeing will contribute $150,000 to the STEM project this school year, with the option to extend the program based on results. The school district will contribute $350,000, which a district spokesman said was approved in its 2017-18 budget."

"The money will support the use of STEM curricula from Project Lead the Way, a nonprofit that provides programs for schools across the country." 

The edublob gets its hands in the till as usual.

"North Charleston High already has a Project Lead the Way program. Boeing’s donation will support that as well as new Project Lead the Way initiatives that began this school year at North Charleston Elementary and Morningside Middle.Middle schoolers will use a curriculum called PLTW Gateway to Technology."

"With the agreement signed and workforce development in place, organizers will focus on the next component, affordable housing, Rivers said. The community has more than 240 vacant tracts, he said. About 160 homes are owner-occupied, and another 100 are lived in by non-owners."

"'Frankly, that sets Liberty Hill up to be gentrified, and that's what we are concerned about,' Rivers said."

"North Charleston and North Charleston Housing Authority currently have few affordable housing programs, but Rivers said they have shown interest in his group's plans."

Few programs because North Charleston already has plenty of affordable housing? More than any other area close to downtown?

"The plan calls for buying lots to build or renovate with a "Liberty Hill home," a 1,200-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home with a garage, he said." 

Who's paying?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Clear Bag Policy Headed for CCSD Schools?

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Once upon a time the only bags in classrooms were pocketbooks and pencil cases. Today's classroom has such large book bags that walking the aisles can be a hazard. Can anyone else remember carrying books openly or balancing them on a hip? Everyone could see what you carried on your person. Not so now.

The necessity for clear bags in the classroom has crept up on us gradually. The recent decision by Goose Creek High School to require clear bags at football games is the beginning of the end of hiding stuff in book bags. That stuff can be as innocuous as toy cars and dolls and as dangerous as guns and ammunition and drugs. 

It's a "safety measure" whose time has come. Best to phase it in when students change schools--from elementary to middle, from middle to high school. 

No kidding. Such a policy could avoid future tragedies.

“'As Goose Creek High School is currently our largest high school, it was the best location to pilot this new safety measure,' said Tim Knight, Berkeley County School District’s security coordinator."

"The procedure allows staff and on site law enforcement to easily identify prohibited items, reducing delays that result from bag searches, Knight said. 'We want our fans and guests to enter and enjoy our facilities with the peace of mind that we are taking proactive steps necessary to ensure their safety.'”

"Prohibited items include weapons, drugs, alcohol, tobacco and electronic cigarettes.Goose Creek's move is similar to those at many college football games, including Charleston Southern University, which implemented a clear bag policy this year." 

"In January, a student with a handgun and .32-caliber bullets was arrested at Goose Creek High. Last month, two students were caught with guns in separate incidents at North Charleston High — including one teen who suffered a gunshot wound when his firearm discharged in a classroom. Also, a Stall student was arrested after a Facebook post showed him brandishing a gun in the school's bathroom."

'Nuff said.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Make Vetting of Student Teachers Mandatory

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When a school district hires a teacher, all kinds of background checks are required. What happens if the person in the classroom is a local student performing "student teaching" requirements for a teaching certificate? 

What happened recently at Stratford High School in Berkeley County suggests such persons may be slipping under the radar. Note that the local rag carefully omits the name of the university the suspect attends. Anyone not Google-challenged can affirm it as Charleston Southern.

"A 23-year-old man interning as a student teacher at Stratford High School has been accused of sexually assaulting a student, authorities say."

"Kendrick Rashard Roach Jr., of Field Pine Avenue in Hopkins, was arrested Monday by Goose Creek police. He is charged with one count of sexual battery with a student 16 or 17 years of age, without force or coercion."

"Roach was a student teacher for the school's physical education program and oversaw the girl's class, according to an affidavit. Police allege he made sexual advances, which included touching her buttocks during class. On Sept. 14, the girl said Roach followed her and a witness to a vehicle in the parking lot after school and got into the back seat. He is accused of touching her inappropriately, exposing himself and asking her to perform oral sex."

"He has not returned to Stratford, according to administrators who learned of the allegations."

Charleston Southern University and the Berkeley County School District need to study this incident carefully. Lawsuits.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"Diversity & Cultural Competency" Coming to Charleston County Schools

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It seems that the Charleston County School District will soon be on the cutting edge of liberal think.

In a little-noticed addendum to last month's meeting, the School Board "voted to engage with Clemson University to create a Diversity and Cultural Competence Assessment, which will analyze the 'climate of diversity and inclusion' and identify sources of tension in the district, according to board documents."

No wonder so many parents are choosing to home school in the district, and not merely for academic progress!

Ready to claim your identity? Ready for your child to claim his or her identity?

Presumably the Superintendent proposed the assessment, and the Board went along with it because no one wanted to be accused of prejudice against "diversity and cultural competence."

As they say, "Garbage in, garbage out."

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

SC to "Hold Back" Worst Non-Readers in Third Grade

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Everything-old-is-new-again department

A few of us are old enough to remember when students who failed to thrive in one grade were forced to repeat it. Was that fifty years ago? 

Our state legislature has addressed the problem of high school freshmen reading on the fourth-grade level or below with the "new" idea that "Starting in the 2017-18 school year under the Read to Succeed Act, third-graders can be held back if they score below a certain threshold on the reading portion of the state-administered standardized test." Such decisions were once the bailiwick of teachers and principals.

But enough of that.

Five percent of all third graders met the criteria for retention. Of those, some possibly will advance based on performance in a summer program or fulfilling "certain exemptions."

Let's argue that only three percent actually repeat the grade. That three percent will not be evenly distributed throughout the state or even a particular school system. What will happen in the Charleston County School District's most failing elementary schools when the percentage approaches a quarter of the class?

CCSD's response will be interesting.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Three School Board Members Defend CCSD's Postlewait

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Was there ever a Charleston County School Superintendent who wasn't under attack? Most of them deserved it.

CCSD School Board members Todd Garrett (downtown), Eric Mack (Wadmalaw} and Kate Darby (Mt. Pleasant) signed an op-ed recently that took up the defense of Superintendent Postlewait. What happened to the other six members--Coats, Collins, Staubes, Hollinshed, Miller, and Jeffrey? Did they authorize the article?

The op-ed succinctly summarizes the district's worst problems:

"Last year, 84 percent of our black students and 41 percent of our white students were not reading on grade level by 3rd grade. At graduation, only 3.7 percent of our black students and 38.6 percent of our white students met the Gold Work Keys level, the equivalence of which Boeing requires to apply for a position. Half of the kids in nearly every grade fail to improve by a grade level each year. Consider year after year of this scenario and what do you have? Students who are several years behind in skills by the time they graduate. We know this because 90 percent of Charleston County School District graduates at Trident Tech had to take remedial classes last year before being able to start a course for credit."

Basically, the three point out that for change to come, the status quo must be crushed, and when that happens, "pushback" appears. Postlewait has focused on the district's financial order, student growth rates, and rewarding teachers and principals. Reading the article, you must wonder why anyone would argue.

Clearly, the response does not address concerns that have appeared over the Superintendent's performance. 

So, what's the problem?

Friday, October 06, 2017

Ft. Dorchester HS Teacher Wants to Teach!

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In his Letter to the Editor, Willie Dasinger, a teacher at Fort Dorchester High School, remarkably has the audacity to tell it as it is for classroom teachers. Too bad administrations aren't composed of former classroom teachers!

"No one can be surprised that over 6,000 teachers didn’t return for the school year, or that fewer than 2,000 are in the pipeline to replace them."

"Ask around and you’ll find that we are subjected to a barrage of meetings and new programs to implement, often by people either unrelated to our profession or with minimal experience in it."

"We are burdened with documenting every meeting and encounter to demonstrate that we’re actually professional enough to do our jobs. New teachers are treated as if they didn’t just get a degree."

"It all comes down to one thing: we’re not treated as professionals. Decisions are made for us to implement because our jobs have been politicized and downgraded by policymakers who concoct easier ways to bypass normal avenues into the profession."

"We do whatever people addicted to the “newest” fix on the market dictate. If it’s technological we’re supposed to be wowed by it and run off to implement it immediately because, well, it’s computer-based and 21st century and all the other typical buzzwords associated with a long line of hucksters and billionaire philanthropists and their subsidiaries, all selling a misinformed public on something new and exciting and bogus." [italics mine]

"The public is often informed of fallacious statistics and not on how much money is wasted training the already trained to do what they already know how to do in the first place. We just have to take it. Those unaccountable, low-wage teachers and their state-budget busting pension plan need reforming anyway. Right?"

"The public should demand that we be allowed to teach kids instead of dealing with the latest in test-prep, computer-driven, buzzword junk on the market. It’s time to let us teach and start holding those who buy into every new, costly program accountable. Maybe then, with that respect afforded to us, kids will want to be teachers again in this state."

"Unless you want the gap in the pipeline to get bigger, and your children and grandchildren to learn nothing in school but how to Google their way into a cheap certificate at the end of four years, the public needs to pressure policymakers to unburden the professionals entrusted with their kids before they begin dealing with a crisis bigger than a nuclear plant failing. (By the way, the lesson there is that they’ll act when it’s too late.)"

Willie Dasinger
Trevor Street
North Charleston

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Rambo for CCSD School Board?

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Is this the first strike of the get-rid-of-Postlewait brigade?

"Principal Jake Rambo became a household name this spring during a clash between school employees and the district office.The embattled ex-principal of James B. Edwards Elementary in Mount Pleasant says he is seriously considering a run for the Charleston County School Board in 2018."

Rambo's main point is that Postlewait is a liar. Strong words. He provided his letter of resignation to the public, stating "that the superintendent had lied about employee evaluations." It's the "value-added" nemesis that's under fire, and rightly so.

Whose seat is he going after, that of Christ Staubes or Kate Darby? 

At least as a former educator he's more qualified than most.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Destroying Garrett and a Football Stadium in CCSD

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If the Charleston County School District wants the good opinion of its inhabitants, destroying schools should not be on the agenda. Garrett Academy has been a cornerstone of technology in North Charleston for decades. "Garrett, a county-wide magnet school that already offers technical programs including pre-engineering, cosmetology and architectural design, draws most of its 401 students from North Charleston attendance zones." And North Charleston likes it that way.

As reported last March, " Beverly Gadson-Birch of the Charleston Area Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance said she supported the idea of a North Charleston CAS, but not at the expense of closing Garrett and razing the stadium."

"'Now that (Garrett) is predominantly black and no longer one of your showcase schools, you want to close it, merge it with North Charleston High, close down a stadium that's important to that community, build another stadium somewhere else, spend more taxpayers' money to construct a new stadium,' Gadson-Birch said. 'Stop using these children as pawns.'"

You have to ask yourself, why do administrative staff in the district wish to eliminate Garrett? No one at the Taj Mahal consulted those affected when they devised the 2014 county ballot item. Apparently it never occurred to them that the lowly peons in North Charleston might want to keep what was theirs.

"One proposal was to build the CAS on the current site of a football stadium beside North Charleston High. Another option was to build the CAS by adding on to the campus of Garrett Academy of Technology."

"District staff recommended that the board stick with its original plan, which would involve eliminating Garrett Academy, and build the center next to North Charleston High. Several Garrett Academy alumni implored the board to keep their school open and move the CAS to its campus in the Waylyn neighborhood."

The school board "voted unanimously Monday to put off a decision and instead create a steering committee with North Charleston community leaders and elected officials."

Forming another committee hardly solves the problem. The vote postponed last March and now postponed again this September will never buy enough time for those most affected to change their minds.

Time to bite the bullet. Put the Center for Advanced Studies with Garrett and keep your hands off their beloved football stadium. 

Is it too much to ask that district administration do what the people want for a change?

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

North Charleston Schools Dumping Grounds for Gun-Toting Students?

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Forget the metal detectors. What the public really deserves to know is why students with guns at North Charleston and Stall High Schools are at those schools in the first place.

Our lovely daily paper becomes tight-lipped when producing details regarding the students involved in three gun incidents since school began this year. At least one of them lived in West Ashley. Another is suspected of living in Goose Creek. What about the third? Does he actually live in North Charleston? 

If not, we have prima facie evidence that CCSD is steering troubled teenagers into North Charleston's high schools. In Mt. Pleasant they think North Charleston is made up of thugs anyway, so why not?

It should occur to readers that some sort of gang war is spilling over into these schools, or should I say "drug" war? Heaven forbid that the word "gang" should ever be applied to youth in the tri-county area!

No, surprise searches, transparent bags, and sniffer dogs tower over metal detectors as an antidote to guns, but also the Charleston County School District needs to weed teenage gunmen out of the classroom.

Superintendent Postlewait has muzzled both principals so that they cannot speak to the press.


Board member Priscilla Jeffery announced loudly that she is a dingbat. 

"Board member Priscilla Jeffery, a former school teacher in Colorado and Vermont, said metal detectors would only create a  'prison-like' environment while failing to address why kids bring guns to school. She suggested more violence prevention programs starting when students are young."

How helpful! Why didn't we think of that?

Monday, October 02, 2017

$20,000 Robots for Autism in CCSD

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No one knows why so many children are now diagnosed with autism since the cause remains mysterious. Parents must hope that intervention will allow their children to function normally in society. Now the South Carolina Department of Education has decided that robots may be one of the answers. 

Taxpayers hope that robots costing $20,000 each are not merely expensive toys. According to State Superintendent Molly Spearman, "The hope is some children will find it easier to talk to the robot than to people. 'It’s just a fantastic tool that we’re putting in the hands of therapists and teachers across the state,' she said."

How does she know? 

The jury remains out on whether such robots will indeed make a difference. On the other hand, companies who make these devices stand to gain big bucks from our schools. The desire to try anything to fix things trumps once again over cold, hard research. How will the effectiveness of these devices be revealed?

Yet another example of what's wrong with the educational establishment's approach to education. Sold a bill of goods with the latest trendy innovation.