Wednesday, July 09, 2008

CCSD's High-Tech High: Pie in the Sky

Did anyone seriously believe that CCSD would start a high-technology high school for dropouts in two years? Has CCSD ever reneged on promises before?

The outlines of the intended program and the sources of its funding, not to speak of the population from which it would draw students, were always so nebulous that it was obvious from the beginning that 75 Calhoun used it as a ploy to explain why the Charter School for Math and Science (CSMS) couldn't have access to the Rivers building. That didn't work. Now comes Tuesday's P & C's report that the so-unimaginatively-named Lowcountry Tech High is on hold. See High-tech Program on Back Burner.

Why is it not obvious at 75 Calhoun that, while CCSD needs more vocational and technical courses in its middle and high schools, it is not necessary to package them all in one school? Furthermore, those who are good prospects for high-tech training are NOT students who have already dropped out. "Hands-on" training does not cure their problems. Businesses needing workers trained in high-tech skills will tell you that those students must first be adequately educated in BASIC skills.

Has anyone at 75 Calhoun canvassed the high-tech needs of local industries? Have any local industries come to CCSD asking for programs? Successful high-tech programs are always sponsored in conjunction with large employers in an area. For example, furniture-making programs around High Point, North Carolina, produced workers for that industry years ago. The superintendent made the following noises in this regard:
"Schools Superintendent Nancy McGinley said she's committed to starting the program, which will teach hands-on lessons to prepare students for technology-based careers in areas such as advanced security, automotive fields and aviation." [off the top of her head, or have these been identified as needs in our area?]

"But McGinley said she's not sure how the program will be funded. Plans call for Lowcountry Tech High to have more than $1 million even as officials are projecting a bleak funding situation. [?? have a million? what does that mean? Didn't the beginning of this article state that next year's budget includes no funding?] She said she will explore public-private partnerships and "progressive solutions" to pay for the program." ["progressive"? ah, yes, taxpayers' pockets, somehow; "private" partnerships should have been explored from the beginning!]

"'We think Lowcountry Tech is an important career academy for the community and students," she said. "The thinking we did on this concept is still valid. I'm committed to making it a reality.'"

"The school district got a grant from the World Monument Fund to begin planning Restoration High, a program to teach preservation arts, and the Broad Foundation matched that money. A project director, paid entirely from grants, will begin working with the school district in August to plan that program. McGinley said she hopes that person also will help develop Lowcountry Tech High."

How much was the grant? Why would the project director know anything about high-tech programs? Notice that the reporter failed to ask where the Restoration High program will be located, and McGinley did not volunteer that information. She also did not volunteer the "one-page overview of the program" that Bynum says was developed for high-tech high.

The most obvious concentration of need for "preservation arts" is on the peninsula; the most obvious place on the peninsula for the program is--drum roll--Burke High School. Given the logic, you can guarantee Burke High School is NOT where the program will land. Nor will it blossom at Garrett Academy, although, given its present orientation, it would be another logical place.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like an old radio drama. As the announcer repeats the teaser: "High hopes persist in the world of low expectations for the much touted Low Tech High." McGinley was also the one who came up with the ridiculous title of "Lower Dean" of "Burke Middle-High", too. I agree. Why not work for a really top-notch world-class historic preservation and high tech building conservation program at Burke? I'll tell you why they don't and it should be obvious by now. These enlightened, educated, open minded intellectuals don't believe Burke can succeed. Nothing like prejudging an entire community without considering its history.

Anonymous said...

OK, I'll say it. McGinley is a racist. She and a lot of other people who agree with her in control of CCSD are deep seeded racists. They wrote off Burke years ago. We can roll over and take this put down like we have for years or we can stand up to these ignorant experts and finally say, "NO MORE!" If McGinley hasn't sold Burke out completely already, then she should start using logic and commit this potentially successful program where it putting it into the hands of the people who are part of the legacy that built this city's greatest landmarks in the first place.