Monday, August 27, 2012

Unfairness:CCSD Principal Versus Teacher Bonuses

Three-year contracts for principals at North Charleston and Burke High Schools do make sense. However, who is really on the front line at these schools? Whose daily efforts will make or break these schools' performances in their attempts to become "average"?

The principals are receiving tens of thousands of dollars extra per year for leading these at-risk schools. Are such bonuses paid to the teachers who agree to teach there? If the schools meet the goals (set by administration) over the three-year contract period, why do the principals, not the teachers, get the bonuses? Why wouldn't sharing be fair?

This is educrat-think at its worst.

Friday, August 24, 2012

P & C Silly Headlines Collection

Perhaps the P & C has a new headline writer; perhaps this person has a sense of humor. In any event, over the last few days, several headlines have been unintentionally humorous.

Yesterday's example:

"Tropical storm bears watching"--a previously-unknown breed, we presume, but whom are they watching?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Stopped Clock Right Again: Wando High School

Brian Hicks is right about a second high school for Mt. Pleasant. How did we get to such a stage that even Hicks can see what needs to be done?

Poor planning, plain and simple. Within a year of its opening, Wando High School was adding trailers for additional classrooms. Imagine: millions of dollars spent on a high school that was immediately too small. You would think the lunatics have been running the asylum. Well, in a sense, they have.

Superintendent McGinley (and Goodloe-Johnson before her) persuaded her lackeys on the Charleston County School Board of Trustees that Mt. Pleasant should have only one high school. Never mind that the school would be twice (and now three and one-half times) the size of the optimal climate for students. Never mind that the monster school would create monster traffic jams. The fiat came down. In fact, McGinley is planning to add to the traffic with another 600-student installation at the same location.

The result is the largest high school in the state (not something to brag about, by the way) that has twenty-five trailers, practically another school in itself, coping with the overflow. Of course, no one could have predicted the growth of Mt. Pleasant, or, to put it another way, no one could have predicted that the sun rose today.

Swails says, "You build the schools where the kids are."

Actually, McGinley has never considered that. She builds hubs so that thousands of students can be bused out of their neighborhoods to larger schools. Old Wando High School has been there all along, used by CCSD as "swing" space. Heaven forbid they should use it as a high school. Why, it might divide the town!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hampton-Green's "Service" Easily Forgone

In the beginning, Mayor Riley recruited Toya Hampton-Green, a District 20 resident, to run for a downtown seat on the Charleston County School Board of Trustees. She appeared such a promising candidate--a young mother with an interest in her local community and a law degree. However, as Green leaves the Board six years later, only the most ardent supporters of Superintendent McGinley mourn her going.

The most that Green ever accomplished on the CCSD Board was to get her children into Buist, a perk for Board members that mysteriously appears by lottery . Green made it crystal clear to her constituents downtown that she didn't represent them! District 20 was left without its voice on the Board. Seemingly, Green represented Green.

That the S.C. School Boards Association should hire Green as "director of policy and legal services" says more about the deficiencies of that organization than it does about Green's qualifications.

The P & C noted that she "often ended up in the same corner as [McGinley]."  That statement is false. Green never voted against any proposal from administration. Her mantra appeared to be "how high should I jump?"

Such slavish bootlicking will not be missed.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Unexpected Comments from P & C Editorial

Imagine my surprise to see the following comments in a Sunday editorial, after all the praise Superintendent McGinley has received in its news columns:
  • What is surprising — even galling — is that the number of low-performing schools here is growing instead of shrinking.
  • And what is equally distressing is that the number of Charleston County high school freshmen who read at a fourth grade level or below has grown since last year.
  • What is most baffling is that students whose reading skills are so poor are able to master subject matter enough to be promoted to the next grade. How do they learn history without reading well? How do they write papers? How do they work word problems in math?
  • The fact that they pass eighth grade raises a question about whether general academic requirements are rigorous enough.
  • Doesn’t the district have a policy against social promotion?
  • . . . there are dynamic alternatives the Charleston County School District hasn’t tried. And when the status quo continues to add schools to the Palmetto Priority Schools list, and when reading progress slips, it is time for more dramatic changes than we’ve seen proposed.
  • There is likely no silver bullet to fix high schools whose students failed to receive adequate elementary school educations. And certainly schools serving children who live in poverty have a more difficult job than those whose children don’t face challenges that come with being poor.
  • But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to shrink the number of low-performing schools. It just means deciding that failure is not an option, and taking the necessary steps to deliver all students an adequate education.
Is this school board up to that challenge? this superintendent?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

School Bureaucrats Compile Meaningless Statistics, Again

The State of South Carolina is touting that its Class of  2012 broke the record in "scholarship" money awarded by a total rising above $ 1 billion.

If you want to know why the statistic is meaningless, read the article carefully or go back to some of my previous postings. This craziness goes on every fall.

How much time and effort that could be directed productively is wasted on such drivel?

Friday, August 17, 2012

CCSD Pulls Plug on Registration Debacle in North Charleston

It was supposed to streamline data for the Charleston County School District, data on students attending its schools in North Charleston.

Someone in administration (Mike Bobby, Director of Finance, Nancy McGinley, Superintendent?) forgot to ask the principals involved if their plan was a good idea. Early days at the two centralized registration centers (at North Charleston HS and Northwoods Middle) were chaotic. Principals at the various schools were worried that untrained personnel at their schools would create more chaos.

Fortunately, level heads finally prevailed, and registration of students has returned to the individual schools, although Bobby puts the best face on the mistake by saying, "“Many of the outcomes we were seeking we achieved. We’d want to come back and see how to make better use of idea next year.”

"We'd want to" but we're not going to? That's what Bobby implies.

One principal pointed out that
"The only drawback he saw was families not being able to see the physical school facility, which is new and a point of pride, he said. Once school started, it also would’ve been difficult not to have a data clerk on site, and parents would’ve had to make an extra trip to the registration site then to the school, he said.

Uh, someone should have thought about that before now.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Murky Hiring at Northwoods Middle Not Encouraging

Perhaps Dan Conner really will be an effective principal for Northwoods Middle; however. Charleston County School Superintendent Nancy McGinley has some 'splaining to do.
  • If Conner was such an effective principal at Stall High School for four years, why did he leave, and why did Stall just make the list of lowest performing schools in the state?
  • Why did Conner feel the pull to become a principal in Iowa? Why was his tenure there so stormy?
  • Are jobs as principal in middle and high schools really so interchangeable?
  • Why was Conner  named interim at Garrett when he came back from Iowa (presumably with his tail between  his legs), and why is Garrett's popular band director now out of a job?
  • Why wasn't Northwoods Middle allowed some consistency by keeping on its interim instead of naming Conner in August, just at the beginning of the school year?
Does this situation sound like mismanagement to you?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Principal Tic-Tac-Toe in CCSD

Why has Dan Conner been principal of three schools since 2009, the latest being his appointment to Northwoods Middle?

Monday, August 13, 2012

CCSD Setting Reading Goals Too Low

While the Charleston County School District laments that the percentage of entering high school freshmen who read below the fourth-grade level has crept upwards this year, the rest of us wonder what percentage can actually read their high school textbooks.

High school materials are available to assist students reading at the sixth-grade level, at least for some courses, such as biology.  Therefore, what statistic would really reveal what percentage of entering freshmen potentially will drop out because they can't read their textbooks?

Sensibly, CCSD should publish the statistics for ninth-grade students reading below the sixth-grade level.  A student reading at the fourth-grade level in the ninth grade faces a virtually impossible task in deciphering his or her textbook. Further,  the subject teacher faces a virtually impossible task teaching specific subject matter and must teach reading instead.

What about comparing the reading scores of tenth-graders with their reading scores entering the school?  How about the reading scores of seniors? Are any of them still reading at the fourth-grade level, or have all reading-deficient students dropped out prior to senior year?

"Chipping away" is not solving the problem; it requires major intervention in those high schools where non-readers (and that's really what we're talking about) constitute more than a quarter of the entering class.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Why Hunley Park Elementary?

Someone please explain to me why an elementary school on an Air Force Base would have a majority of free and reduced lunch students. Is CCSD not counting free housing and medical care for the military?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thinking Outside the Box on Stall and Greg Mathis

Sadly, both Stall High School and Greg Mathis Charter are on the list of Palmetto Priority Schools, those South Carolina schools that are failing so badly that the state has taken a special interest in them. The Charleston County School District now has nine out of the 35 schools on the list. Is that the most of any school district in the state? Probably.

The administration and boards of trustees of CCSD have brought us to this sorry place over many decades of problems. No one has any reason to believe that somehow Charleston County lacks the resources that other districts have to be successful. Perhaps we go to the top of the list in our excellent facilities, but we go to the bottom in academics.

The upcoming school board election is another chance to fix the problem by electing trustees that actually know how the district works and can hold administration accountable.

Principals at Stall and Greg Mathis have their hands full, but tweaking the lessons taught by teachers, as one suggests, is not the answer. Greg Mathis is a charter school; therefore, why should its charter be renewed if it is failing? Stall has a beautiful new state-of-the-art building. Now, if Superintendent McGinley allows its administrators and teachers to use experience and common sense to address its problems, perhaps they will arrive at solutions that state "experts" couldn't possibly imagine. One might be to throw out edublob thinking.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

CCSD Tourism Runs Amuck in North Charleston

“Go tell that man we ain’t a bunch of trees.”
“I said to tell that man to get away from here with that camera.”
Anyone who has read Toni Cade Bambara's "Blues Ain't No Mockin Bird" might chuckle over the Charleston County School District's attempt to show new teachers North Charleston "communities where their students live." In fact, administrators at the Taj Mahal might benefit by reading the story themselves.    

However, the tour is not funny. How would you like it if a bus rolled through your neighborhood in order to show how "the other half" lives?  Condescending, to say the least.    

How I wish Mr. Cain had showed up to request that these intruders leave.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Miracle on Calhoun Street

While I was vacationing, a miracle occurred on Calhoun Street:

According to the new system of measurement enacted this year, Charleston County's failing school system received a "B" . In fact, the mediocre unsung schools of the whole State of South Carolina received an "A-" !

Surely these grades will dazzle any newcomers to the state and CCSD into believing how excellent our schools are.

On the other hand, despite educrats' best efforts, the Charleston County School District still falls below the average for the state. What could that mean?

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Fire Academic Magnet Principal!

After all the accusations, recriminations, lawsuits, and rumors circulating about out-of-county cheaters at Academic Magnet High School, Principal Judith Peterson "forgot" about the August 1 deadline for new students to provide proof of residency.  That means over 40 percent of its incoming freshman class have yet to show their papers.

Compare that to the statistics for the School of the Arts, only a stone's throw away: three of 225 students, or about one percent, have yet to comply.

Outraged yet?

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Short Notice to CCSD Board

What personnel matter could be so pressing that Superintendent McGinley gives the Charleston County School Board of Trustees only a 24-hour notice of a special telephonic meeting?