Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Picking on Kandrac Isn't Going to Work, Part 2

A new low in public relations and transparency for Superintendent McGinley--see What's a Board Member to Do?

In a meeting of 200 administrators and principals, the mere presence of School Board member Elizabeth Kandrac so frightened Superintendent Nancy McGinley that she slandered Kandrac in comments to the P & C. Although the reporter was not at the meeting, she gave the accusation by McGinley and "staff members" already unhappy with Kandrac's questioning of edicts issued from 75 Calhoun credibility in handling the information.

In a poor attempt to sound even-handed, Courrege wrote the following:

"'They actually believe I'm here to harass the superintendent," [Kandrac] said. "I'm here to represent my constituents in the county. That's why I'm here."

"She said others are lying about what happened in order to protect the superintendent and to make Kandrac look bad because they don't like her.

"Associate Superintendent Terri Nichols and Elliot Smalley, the district's executive director of planning, marketing and communications, gave consistent accounts about what happened."

So these people whose employment relies on good relations with the superintendent provide unbiased proof of what happened? Give us a break.

According to the smear campaign, "principals and administrators gathered at the district office [felt] intimidated, distracted and unable to have frank conversations." What a bunch of pantywaists. There were 200 of them and one of her. I hope they have more nerve when they're dealing with students.

Imagine this. Meyers and company are attempting to draft board policies that will prevent Kandrac from attending meetings in that "gray area." Once they have done so, and the majority of bootlickers on the Board have approved such rules, will they employ bouncers? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In for a Penny? So Says CCSD School Board

Do you wonder if anyone at the CCSD School Board of Trustees meeting on Monday night had the nerve to suggest that, perhaps, the residents of Charleston County would not be happy about a one-cent rise in the sales tax to fund more mini-Taj Mahals? If so, these doubts were not reported. [See Next Phase of Plan Considered in Tuesday's P & C]

The headline itself is a misnomer, unless you assume that the "plan" is to spend as much money as possible closing school buildings and building new ones in their places on into the twenty-second century. If so, the last "phase" was to close five schools under a cloud of suspicion that they were too poor and black to make the Superintendent look good in her stats, a move now actively being investigated by the Office of Civil Rights.

At least one Board member (unnamed by the reporter) dared to suggest that the closing schools--tax increase juxtaposition might be difficult to explain to taxpayers. Then, with his usual tin ear to the poor (from the well-paid), Mike Bobby, the district's chief financial officer reassured them that "'A sales tax increase would provide a longer-term stream of revenue and it would affect everyone instead of just property owners.'" True. A sales-tax increase would hit the poorest among us. This will be right after their schools have been closed.

Given lack of transparency in the past and present, who among us will trust the "district staff in evaluating the condition of buildings, collecting demographic information and assessing the use of district space"?

Aren't we thankful that "community input" will be allowed in April? So unnamed "community leaders" "seem supportive" of a sales tax increase, do they?

Let's hear their names, please.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Picking on Kandrac Isn't Going to Work

In a pathetic display of thinly-veiled spite, at the behest of Gregg Meyers, Toya Hampton-Green dragged the CCSD School Board's rules into the public forum of its open meeting Monday night. [See Board's Behavior Discussed in Tuesday's P&C.] You know, just in case anybody [not to be named] needs reminders.

Evidently, Board member Elizabeth Kandrac has become the elephant in the room--she who cannot be named--but who every last bootlicker for Superintendent Nancy McGinley is determined to silence, one way or another. It's the let's-try-to-embarrass-her-in-the-open-meeting ploy. What Meyers et al do not comprehend is that a seasoned middle-school teacher has endured tougher battles than these dilettantes can throw at her.

Let's look at the lead on Courrege's article: "Some Charleston County School Board members have been breaking the board's rules by giving orders to school staff, being disrespectful to employees and visiting schools unannounced." Serious stuff, right? But where are the specifics? Let's hear names, dates, and places instead of innuendos.

What is ripe, though, is that Meyers asked McGinley "to evaluate the board's behavior." Who's the employee here? The Board is made up of elected officials; the superintendent serves at their pleasure, not the opposite.

Then we learn that--holy cow!--Board members actually visited schools without giving the Superintendent advance notice! It's a rule, is it? Let's ask ourselves, what real purpose does it serve?

Meanwhile, the public is probably surprised to find that its elected representatives don't have the same rights as any resident of the county when it comes to visiting a school!

The message from Meyers, Green, and McGinley to their favorite Board member: Don't ask too many questions. Don't visit schools to see what we are doing. Don't interfere with the good thing we've got going here. Don't rock the boat. And, for pete's sake, when the Superintendent speaks, smile and just say, "Yes, m'am. You are so right."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Well-Meant Meeting on NCHS Goes Awry

What can community members do to improve North Charleston High School? Apparently, local politicians and religious leaders decided that holding a meeting of parents would help. See Sunday's P & C for Forum Draws Few Parents.

That was the first mistake. It may have been compounded by confusion about the meeting place (old North Charleston City Hall versus new North Charleston City Hall), but I doubt it. Those who showed up at the wrong place could have easily driven to the correct one.

No, parents who care have been worn out by the Charleston County School District's version of community meetings. Those are the ones where Superintendent McGinley speaks, answers no questions from the floor, and breaks up attendees into groups to share their "concerns" with CCSD-appointed leaders who report their findings, they trust, to McGinley once the meeting is over. Attempts by parents to take over CCSD meetings about restructuring of schools earlier this year are symptomatic of the cynicism born of such tactics.

Never mind that the meeting wasn't sponsored by CCSD. According to the article, "State Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, said the forum was a way that he and fellow organizer state Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, decided to try to help parents concerned about what is going on at the school where 26 students were arrested in one day." In fact, the majority in attendance were invited by the organizers, including "Three school district officials [. . .]to provide an outline of their work in North Charleston schools." They had no names that the reporter could provide.

Parents with children at NCHS know perfectly well that one more meeting with politicians and school district officials will not change the system. No, parents at NCHS aren't perfect; parents aren't perfect anywhere else either.

If the instigators of the Sep. 2 brawl are classified as special education students, as suggested by readers, not much can be done to them.

It's the system, stupid, not the parents.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Is CCSD-Mandated Curriculum Effective?

Unfortunately for Charleston County Schools Superintendent Nancy McGinley and the CCSD School Board, they just approved spending $186,000 for a "new" curriculum (entitled Creative Curriculum) for its prekindergarten classes. These classes are aimed at students who are most at risk to be unprepared for kindergarten. See Pre-kindergarten Programs Focusing on Literacy in Sunday's P&C.

According to the district's new early childhood education director, Lerah Lee, former principal of St. James-Santee Elementary School, "It marks the first time in years that all pre-kindergarten classes will have the same, standardized curriculum. Teachers are being trained to use it, and that should enable them to better address students' problems."

I say "unfortunately" because not quite a month previous to McGinley's remarks praising the curriculum, the well-respected federal What Works Clearinghouse issued a report on it that was unfavorable. According to the WWC report, "The Creative Curriculum® was found to have no discernible effects on oral language, print knowledge, phonological processing, or math." This "new" curriculum CCSD just bought into has been around for eight years, in case you were wondering.

Intervention at an early age is extremely important so that identified children will be successful in reading in the early grades. Making sure that all students at the end of the third grade could read was the original impetus behind No Child Left Behind, whatever its flaws. But making teachers use a mandated curriculum that has failed to prove its worth in any study so far cannot be the answer.

See for the full report.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Either Middleton or Zumalt Has 'Splaining to Do

Arrested for what? Being black while outside the cafeteria?

Everyone in the Lowcountry is breathing a collective sigh of relief that during Wednesday's fight at North Charleston High School no one used a knife or gun. The 26 arrests made by the police and the school-wide lock down were enough to quell the brawl. See Police Boost Presence at School in Friday's P&C.

Now, according to NCHS Principal Juanita Middleton, very few of the 26 will be expelled because "most of those arrested didn't actually fight."


Please explain why they were arrested. Someone.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Good News for Charter School for Math and Science

Brian Hicks approves.

At least, that's the gist of his P & C column in Wednesday's paper, School Has Marks of Success. Hicks makes several points about CSMS that makes me wonder if he's been reading this blog:

  • "It's hard to understand why anyone would have a problem with another good school, open to the public, on the peninsula. But ever since a group of parents had the idea for the Charleston Charter School for Math and Science, people have been taking potshots."
  • "The truth is, Math and Science couldn't be more diverse: 49 percent of the students are black, 44 percent are white."
  • "Principal David Colwell, who was formerly at North Charleston High, has never failed to increase diversity in his school staff."
  • "The student body and, frankly, its board look like Charleston."
One quibble from me: the school needs to start using its blog to communicate the good news.

The Good News and the Bad News for NCHS

Depends on how you look at it: 26 Students Charged in Fight.

At least administration called in the law.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Will Use of False Addresses Continue?

Headline: No Change for Buist Admissions