Thursday, October 31, 2013

Common Core: The New York Fiasco

Now that New York State has rushed to implement the Common Core standards, parents, teachers, and administrators are appalled. Here is a quote from a principal, in fact, New York's High School Principal of the Year in 2013:

I am amused by all of the politicians and bureaucrats who love the Common Core and see it as the salvation of our nation.  I suspect they are supporting standards that they have never studied. I wonder if they have ever read the details that ask first-graders to “compose and decompose plane and solid figures” and “to determine if equations of addition or subtraction are true or false.”  It is likely that much of the support for the Common Core is based on the ideal that we should have national standards that are challenging, yet the devil in the detail is ignored.
When one actually examines the standards and the tests like the sample I provided, it quickly becomes apparent why young students are crying when they do their homework and telling their parents they do not want to go to school.  Many New York children are simply not developmentally ready to do the work. Much of the work is confusing. When you add the pressure under which teachers find themselves to quickly implement the standards and prepare students for standardized testing, it becomes clear why New York parents are expressing outrage at forums across the state.
It is time for New York State to heed, at the very least, the New York State United Teachers’ call for a three-year moratorium on high-stakes testing, thus providing time for New York to re-examine its reforms, and change course.  New York, sadly, has been a canary in the Common Core coal mine, and if we do not heed the danger a generation of students will be lost.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

CCSD Board Members' Sour Grapes over Lowcountry Leadership Charter

If for some reason the state inspection of new and renovated facilities for the Lowcountry Leadership Charter School finds construction problems, four members of the Charleston County School Board want to throw its 400 students into the snow. Well, not into the snow; in Hollywood that would be into the sand.

The mean-spirited message sent by members Coats, Ascue, Collins, and Miller is typical of those who see a racist under every proposal they didn't make themselves. Here all the school wants is to remain in the same place from month to month until its own building is ready. And it pays rent that would revert to $0 if the building is unused. Revenue from this lease even goes to other Hollywood schools.

The situation is too reminiscent of the old jingle used by the John Birchers to defeat fluoridation of water: "It's all a Commie [insert racist here] plot, you see, / To get us internally."

Sunday, October 27, 2013

SCEA: Mayhem Meet Chicken Little, aka Jackie B. Hicks

As president of the South Carolina Education Association, Jackie B. Hicks, a math teacher from Clover, can't stand Mick Zais. No doubt she's still puzzling over the election of a Republican to the post of State Superintendent of Education, one usually claimed for Democrats. Her latest salvo appeared in the local paper today as an op-ed. Interestingly, she strongly resists the devolution of power from the State Board of Education to local school districts. Of, course, that's not how she characterizes it!

Don't you wonder why? Easy--she's a big-government fan. She believes that the state should tell local districts what they can and cannot do. She doesn't trust local voters, but she does trust state educrats, almost all Democrats, that end up on the unelected State Board of Education. 

That's why, in an Obama-like fashion, Hicks tells us that sending power back to local school districts means the end of effective education in South Carolina. We'll have 50-student kindergarten classes as the sky falls. 

Hicks picks on two provisions of the 40 that she calls "essential." Don't you wonder about the other 38? 

Hicks sees Zais as attempting to destroy the state's schools. She also calls his recommendations "a thinly-veiled attempt to pave his way to re-election." Logically, she is suggesting that destroying the state's schools appeals to the majority of voters.

Well, nothing about this op-ed is logical anyway.

Friday, October 25, 2013

South Carolina Education Association Meets to Denigrate School Choice

Who is the SCEA, and why is it making such wild accusations at a North Charleston meeting of a senate panel? It's a liberal organization that fulfills the part of a public school teachers' union in a state where there is no teachers union. And it's hysterical over the idea that a tax-credit bill promoting some minor school choice will pass the South Carolina senate.

How hysterical? Here's a direct quote from the president of SCEA, Jackie Hicks: "“This seemingly innocuous measure opens the door to subsequent pro-segregation laws diverting taxpayer money to the private sector.” This attitude matches up well with that of Joseph Darby, who believes that every move to support choice is really a Ku-Klux-Klan-like plot to segregate schools. No doubt Darby agrees with Eric Holder, who wants to take choice away from black students trying to avoid failing schools in Louisiana.

These people live in la-la-land. How much more segregated could schools such as Burke High/Middle and Charleston Progressive Academy be? Would you please take the beam out of your own eyes?

My favorite quote comes from Kathi Regalbuto, who reports herself as a "former Berkeley County educator and parent of children who attended public and private schools": she states that "private school vouchers are 'a retreat from our collective responsibility to educate our children' in public schools."  

"Collective responsibility"? Speak for yourself. You're not speaking for parents. Their private responsibility is to get the best education possible for each child, even if that means a private school. Make your own children guinea pigs, if you wish.

EdFirstSC put in its two cents as well. According to its leader, Drayton Hall teacher Patrick Hayes, the evil one, Howard Rich, of New York, is funding conservatives who support school choice. Maybe Hayes hasn't heard yet of Bill Gates and Eli Broad on the other side? And the League of Women [read: liberal] Voters agreed that Larry Grooms's efforts are designed to avoid "a free and quality public school system" in South Carolina.

Maybe these ideologues were in the majority at the meeting, but they don't represent the majority of parents.

Architect's Dream Building Misplaced, Citizens' Nightmare

According to well-connected local architect Dinos Liollio, nothing could be better for the Charleston landscape than the "pierced concrete" monstrosity Clemson wishes to build near Marion Square. To quote the "expert," "There is no question that with the continued evolution of its design, the Paolozzi Center will become a modern masterpiece, in the same context as our U.S. Custom House and Old Exchange Building are historical masterpieces. . . .The Paolozzi Center is a great concept, the detailing will make it a great building, and the dialogue will continue to make us a healthy community."

Good. Then let Clemson build it next to your house, Mr. Liollio. Did the U.S. Custom House and Old Exchange Building disrupt the character of their communities? No. Context is everything.

BTW, the Liollio firm has hidden the Courtney School building, a well-known landmark, behind the more generic facades of Charleston Progressive Academy on King Street. 
At least it's not made of "pierced concrete."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Clemson Architecture Thumbs Nose at Traditional Charleston

The Washington Light Infantry Building sits on one corner of Meeting and George Streets. A typical College of Charleston building sits on another; a newer but traditionally designed office building sits on a third.

Clemson wants to put a modern architectural monstrosity made of glass and "pierced concrete" on the remaining corner, replacing a one-story traditional building ironically named "Graduate Program in Historic Preservation."

Some of us remember the controversy over the pink marble library building on King Street.
We were told it was an exemplar for the future. Yeah, right. 

It appears now that Charleston's Board of Architectural Review (BAR) has been so compromised by links to Clemson that it couldn't find a quorum Wednesday night to vote on architectural details.

Don't you wonder how that happened?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Common Core Proponents Rejoice over Spending Surge

The latest edition of Education Week, cheerleader for the Common Core, touts the surge in spending that has already begun.

According to the reporter,
The market for testing products and services is booming and could continue to surge over the next few years, according to industry analysts and company officials, who say that growth is being fueled by the shift toward common-core tests across states and the use of new classroom assessments designed to provide timely and precise feedback for teachers and students.
Guaranteed to go the way of the open classroom, new math, etc., after millions have been spent, and coming to a district near you!

Berkeley CSD Honors Daniel Island Commitment: Why Doesn't CCSD?

Imagine. Ten years ago the Berkeley County School District agreed to keep a K through 8 school on the property donated to it on Daniel Island. Superintendent Thompson recently was reminded of the agreement. That means that Daniel Islanders have won their battle, at least temporarily, to keep those grades on the Island.

Too bad that the Charleston County School District doesn't stand by its commitments in a like manner. The property that contains Memminger Auditorium, now used by the city for performance events, was given for the purpose of educating students in perpetuity. In fact, the remaining auditorium was built as part of the original Memminger School.

Let's hope there's more long-term honor in Berkeley County!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Balog's Odds on Improving Education Need Critical Thinking

Melanie Balog needs to opine on subjects she understands. Education is not one of them.

First, she startles readers with the idea that "nearly half of public students" in the United States live in poverty. She bases this misleading conclusion on a report that in 17 states, mostly southern, a majority qualify for free or reduced lunch. Apparently Balog has ignored that no one checks that those who apply for such lunches are in fact eligible! As with other well-meant programs with no checks and balances, such applications have soared.

Balog also doesn't seem to understand that school enrollments rise and fall periodically due to demographics. What a shocking thought, apparently, that more students are in southern schools than a decade ago! Somehow Balog buys into the idea that this growth means resources are spread too thinly. Doesn't she realize that those very school districts she worries about are spending more per child than they ever have before? How does that translate to "thinner resources"?

She also seems surprised to find that "'many families with school age children have not yet reached their maximum income potential,'" as quoted from Joan Lord of the Southern Regional Education Board, and so, young families must be "boosted."

Shock and awe? Balog must have come from an unusual environment where families with the youngest children were the highest earners. La-la land, perhaps.

In a report on achievements in southern states in the last decade Balog was able to find one bright spot for South Carolina: graduation rates rose faster than the national average. Now South Carolina is up to 66 percent graduating, or to put it another way, only one-third of students entering ninth grade drop out of high school. Should we brag about that?

Most of SC's "overage" is due to a drive for better record-keeping, not necessarily more graduates. If Balog had been paying attention, she'd know that.

CCSD's McGinley's Tunnel-Vision Diversity

Really, it's a hoot to see our local rag touting the push for diversity within Charleston County's magnet schools. Under the leadership of Superintendent McGinley the district has become almost as segregated as it was prior to consolidation and desegregation. Someone needs to confront her with the facts, but apparently the reporter is unwilling to do so.

The reality is that Buist Academy, with 21 percent non-white, is the most integrated school on the peninsula barring the Charter School for Math and Science, of course! And the School of the Arts with its 23 percent nonwhite is more integrated than any other high school in the district.

You might say McGinley's putting the emphasis on the wrong syl-LA-ble.

How about considering upping diversity at the Military Magnet? What about Charleston Progressive?

The district remains silent on integrating these magnet programs, and the reporter follows suit.

One point made about the School of the Arts is that students at Corcoran Elementary, another de facto segregated school, didn't know about its programs. McGinley has been in a position for years, first as chief academic officer and then as superintendent, to tell them, so she's responsible for their ignorance.

Someday the newspaper will stop shilling for the district. Someday.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Charlestowne Academy" Building Example of CCSD's Failures

It's not Charlestowne Academy on Rivers Avenue that may become a homeless shelter if the Charleston County School District's agreement for a land swap with Mayor Keith Summey goes through.

No, it's the Charlestowne Academy--Charleston County Discipline School--Bethune Arts and Community Center--Bethune Elementary School campus. The building's construction date seems lost in the mists of time. Perhaps a reader has a long memory and can fill in the blanks. What is certain is mismanagement of this CCSD asset by multiple superintendents and School Boards.

What happened to Bethune Elementary School's use of 5841 Rivers Avenue is unclear, but probably the (black?) school was a victim of integration and consolidation in Charleston County. It was vacant. By 1982 this albatross was rented for $1 per year to the city of North Charleston for use as an arts and community center, an agreement that lasted for at least 10 years. How's that for a great return on investment? One would hope that CCSD got something else in return!

Before 1996, CCSD decided to use the building for its first "discipline" school during times in the nineties when students were actually expelled from CCSD's other schools in large numbers. That lasted until CCSD built a special campus as a discipline school, an idea that was ultimately rejected as non-PC.

Notice, none of these decades involved an entity named Charlestowne Academy.

1996 was a banner year for formation of magnet schools in the district. Not only Charleston Progressive but also Military Magnet and Montessori schools were approved, with some opposition, by the district. Charlestowne Academy was formed as a magnet school with no academic entrance requirements that would focus on "back to basics," starting as K through 10. The school focused on academics (no athletic programs) including the Spalding Method ( and Core Knowledge ( in its lower grades.

In its first years, this school was more successful in the results in its lower grades than any of the other magnets, with the exception of Buist Academy. Parental involvement was required; the school had an effective discipline system; and, of course, its curriculum was parent-driven, not district-driven. It was so successful that the lower grades used a lottery system to select only one-third of applicants. And, it was more integrated than almost any other school in the district.

What happened? It's true that the high school portion never really got off the ground. In hindsight, the plan should have started with perhaps kindergarten through fourth and add-a-grade per year, as many new schools have done. Sticking students in trailers at the Bonds-Wilson campus apparently was not a turn off, but in 1999 the school moved into the old discipline campus.

No, the school's success was its death sentence. As new superintendents and new school board members arrived, they saw that the school made the other non-magnet schools look bad by comparison, so one by one they stole away the details that made it successful. One of the first to go was required parental involvement. Next, the school was informed it must use the same ineffective discipline program as the rest of CCSD. Maria Goodloe-Johnson pulled the rug all the way out when she decreed that all CCSD schools must use the same curriculum. These developments should serve as a warning to the folks at Meeting Street Academy that hope for a deal with the district!

Since 2009 the campus has been for sale with apparently no takers except for member Chris Collins's lease agreement that was finally dissolved this year. So of the thirty or forty years that the school has existed, how many were utilized with full use of the property by the district?

How many other properties also lie fallow?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Balog's Dismissal of Critical Thinking on Science Standards

It would not even occur to Melanie Balog to interview those on both sides of a disagreement about the newest science standards being vetted by the State Board of Education. Typical of all liberals, she believes that interviewing two people on one side of the issue gives her all the facts. Could it be that in speaking to those who have an ax to grind, Melanie is getting (and reporting) a skewed picture? Naaaah!

What Melanie doesn't understand is that the SC Parents Involved in Education are not asking for the teaching of religious doctrine; they merely want science classes that are not antagonistic to religious thought. The teacher who was interviewed made it a point to show her desire for neutrality in the classroom when religious ideas are put forward by students. So Millibeth Currie, chair of the science department at Moultrie Middle, attempts to be neutral. Good for her, but what about the many science teachers who have and will continue to make fun of religious ideas in the science classroom? Probably Professor Dillon is one of them. Balog implies that the concept of "irreducible complexity" is this year's buzzword, an idea fed to her by Dillon.

What's frustrating about such arrogance is their dismissal of critical thinking on this particular point of disagreement. Professor Dillon, and Balog in response,denigrate a concept ripe for critique in the classroom, not the ideology of some right-wing zealot. No one is asking that biology teachers suggest that Genesis is the place to find how the universe was created.

No doubt both of them are licking their chops in anticipation of cutting down any reasonable suggestion for fairness in the classroom.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Educational Shibboleths and Lack of Memorization Hurt Students

Repeat after Briana Timmerman: "Critical thinking skills good; memorization bad."

If that shibboleth reminds you of the mindless repetition of Animal Farm slogans, it should. It falls in the same category of nonsense.

That's the gist of her statement as Director of the SC Education Department's Office of Instructional Practices and Evaluations made this week to the state Board of Education. Several members objected to the "materialistic bias" of new state standards under consideration, but apparently no one objected to the following: "the new standards require students to develop higher order thinking skills and focus on problem-solving rather than memorization." It appears that even conservative members don't understand the effects of such a goal. After all, who can argue with "critical thinking"?

Timmerman herself is a victim of lack of factual knowledge, as her answer to one board member's question indicated. She did not know what "irreducible complexity" is as applied to biological systems. Her response was that ignorance doesn't matter because students will be asked to "evaluate the evidence."

That is just the point about the necessity for memorization. If the only "evidence" a student having no factual knowledge can use consists of what is in the textbook, the student (and society) is at the mercy of textbook writers. How will students "think outside the box" when they have no "furniture of the mind" (as I call it) to challenge accepted "truths"?  Maybe you would assume that Abraham Lincoln could have picked up the telephone and had a long-distance conversation with Grant during one of his battles. Maybe you might think that Grant was a Confederate general. I've known students who did.

Today's students are not expected to memorize too much information; the opposite is true. Ask any high school teacher trying to deal with their factual ignorance!

Here's a quote from Psychology Today that makes the point better than I can:
To return to the point of progressives that school is too hard, I have examined state science standards in great detail because I write middle-school science curriculum. The standards do not demand too much memorization. They don't demand enough, especially the kind of memorization where students have to know how to use knowledge in their thinking. 
I think that the low-level of memorization required of students today is a main reason why so many students have under-developed thinking skills. Too many of them mouth platitudes and parrot what others have said. They can't think on their own because they don't know enough to generate original and rigorous thought. Yet, too many educators dismiss the importance of memorization, assuming falsely that kids can think with an empty head. Educators tried that a few years back with "new math," which failed miserably. Now, it appears the same ill-begotten beliefs are re-surfacing in the context of state standards and accountability testing.
                                              --Author and Professor William R. Klemm, Texas A & M

Briana Timmerman needs to do a little critical thinking of her own!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

CCSD's McGinley Wants Extension of Tax to Groceries

Maudlin complaining about not being able to put a sales-tax extension on the ballot in 2014 without special dispensation is one thing; planning that the tax will extend to local food shopping is another.

When South Carolina was a really poor state (not so long ago for those of us over 50), the sales tax applied to everything that moved and some things that didn't. Money to run the state had to come from somewhere. That included a tax on groceries and a tax on prescriptions! Talk about regressive! Now well-heeled outsiders like Michael Bobby, Chief Financial Officer of the Charleston County School District, and his boss, Superintendent Nancy McGinley, have a bright idea: bring back a tax on groceries. To hell with the poor.

Strangely enough, or maybe not, this push from CCSD administrators has been undertaken without the CCSD School Board's approval--just the recommendation of a committee of the Board, members selected by you-know-who. They're telling us poor taxpayers that 30 percent of the sales tax revenue comes from tourists.

Well, if that is true, it won't be for long. Have you ever seen long lines of tourists standing in line at the grocery checkout? I thought not.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

CCSD's One-Cent Sales Tax Extension in Full Swing

Ruminations of a superintendent

How do we get more millions of OPM, Superintendent McGinley asks herself, when people don't want more taxes. To get the last sales tax passed we had to pretend it amounted to pennies, promise to build or renovate school buildings in every corner of Charleston County, and count on voting during an even-numbered year so that voters showing up to vote in Congressional or Presidential elections wouldl check that box, i.e., more Democrats.

First, we need to get some laws changed so that the tax will appear on the 2014 ballot. Shockingly, state law doesn't allow us to extend the tax until it has only two years left.  Michael Bobby, CCSD's chief of finances and operations, says that if he has to wait another year for the vote, "that would delay some construction projects." Michael always has my back, even though he has known all along what the law is and could have planned accordingly. The audit and finance committee of the School Board, stacked with my supporters, is happily going along with the request to change the law. It has been a blessing that I can control district audits; who knows what might have come to light otherwise.

I'm running out of options on replacing or renovating the downtown schools, so I'll be forcing the change of Sanders-Clyde from elementary to middle-school status, That way new renovations will be needed in District 20 and we'll get those downtown votes. People have short memories, so they'll have forgotten just how new the Sanders-Clyde building is. Those downtown voters who don't want it as a middle school have been kicked off the community task force and replaced with district employees, so by hook or by crook they'll approve my plan.

I already have the Mount Pleasant votes since they've been asking for a new elementary school since 2005. I've deliberately dragged the district's feet so that it can be rolled into the sales tax extension.

Then there are the rich. I can appeal to them by suggesting that a sales tax extension can be used to lower property taxes. John Barter has helped by pointing out that 30 percent of the revenue comes from tourists. No one cares about the 70 percent of locals, many of whom are poor, who must pay more to see that property owners taxes go down.

I just need a good carrot for West Ashley and it's a done deal. Maybe I can suggest that West Ashley High is seismically challenged. Michael's working on that for me, and I can count on my board supporters to lend a hand.

Yes, it's all coming together. I know I can count on the local press to print my public relations handouts without investigating too closely. Look at the headline: "Schools want law changed." Success is at hand. After all, who ever heard of a tax that had an expiration date, despite what I said in 2010? It'll go on forever.

Common Core Testing: Edublob at the Trough

Proponents of the Common Core standards initiated by the states and adopted by most of them are fond of stating that the federal government isn't imposing its standards on anyone. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The education "establishment," or edublob, is practically salivating at the funds and promises coming out of Washington. Entire school districts and entire states (except Texas!) are trashing their own standards and textbooks in jockeying for position at the OPM trough.The Charleston County School District is a case in point. South Carolina's adoption of Common Core under the aegis of Democrat State Superintendent Jim Rex allowed the district to receive funds to finance its ill-advised teacher evaluation metrics. The edublob gets a big chunk of the money to devise ways in which student results can be calibrated to factors such as poverty (i.e., expecting the children of the poor to learn less!).

The latest sally in controlling content to issue from the U.S. Department of Education is grants to two edublob entities, Smarter Balanced ( and PARCC (, to use OPM to develop testing appropriate to the Common Core standards. Out go the tests developed over the years that match previous standards.

Do you realize how many millions, if not billions, of OPM are now being thrown into the trash?

Look at the opportunities for earnings: new curriculum and teacher-training sessions for that curriculum; printing all those documents; developing evaluation standards for teachers and students; selling all those new textbooks. . . . Everybody gets his.

You would suppose that at some point they would exhaust their reservoir of OPM, but that will never happen. After all, all they need is to raise taxes.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

What Lies Beneath Mount Pleasant's Invitation to Francis Marion U

Something lurks beneath the sudden push for a satellite campus of Francis Marion University to be located in Mount Pleasant. Only Mayor Billy Swails and maybe some members of the town council know. What it is, is neither need nor logic.

Swails's recent op-ed proves the point. He carefully documents the percentage of local freshmen at the College of Charleston but has no hard facts to back up his contention that "constituents have been telling us for years" how difficult it is for students to stay local in their choice of a four-year degree. "Accessibility and affordability" are his criteria.

Really? How many constituents complain about college options to their mayor? Someone has an ax to grind, and it's probably to make money.

Then there's the idea that his criteria must be met by a four-year school. Um, why?

If a student's scores and/or grades are not high enough to get into one of our local four-year colleges, why would we want to import a school whose standards are lower? Getting in to one of our local four-year programs in no way resembles getting into Harvard. In fact, for one of them, graduating from high school is enough!

Current in the national conversation is the discussion of the many college dropouts who are stuck with thousands in student loans and without a job justifying the debt. Swails apparently wants more of them. Anyone who believes that all high school graduates should matriculate at four-year colleges is delusional. What is the problem with proving academic dedication at a two-year college and then moving on to the four-year degree if it makes sense at that point?

Pointing out the virtues of the nursing program at Francis Marion is the final fallacy. First of all, the nursing program at FMU was run by MUSC until 2004, so those stats he's citing boomerang to another of our local choices for a four-year nursing degree. In addition, starting FMU with a "nursing" program is a red herring when FMU uses a 2 + 2 system towards its four-year nursing degree: the first two years are in the general college And, finally, someone should figure out if what the Lowcountry needs is nurses with four-year degrees! Certainly Swails hasn't provided any numbers for support.

Someone might just wonder if one of Swails's clients a building for sale that would fit his description of what the Council will look for.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Should Daniel Island Control Berkeley School District

When all else fails, form a committee. That's the mantra of every school superintendent in the United States. Further, the effectiveness of that committee is inversely proportional to the number of committee members.

Thus, Rodney Thompson, Berkeley County School Superintendent, has formed a committee of at least a couple of dozen to study the problems of site selection and grade configurations that are on his front burner due to Daniel Island's threats to leave the county behind. The committee is so big, in fact, that it must be divided into two parts.

But wait! Daniel Islanders are not happy with its makeup. Given the parameters for membership, Daniel Island, with its desire for a pedestrian lifestyle, cannot control the outcome. As one resident put it, the Island's voice will be "muffled."

The attitude expressed by Daniel Islanders posits a philosophical question: is Daniel Island the "elephant in the room" that sits wherever it wishes, or is it simply the most well-heeled part of Berkeley County?  Should a relatively new community (one that did not exist 20 years ago) control the school district's policies? Thirty-four percent of Daniel Island School students do not live on the island even now.

We have a representative group of Daniel Island parents yelling, "We wuz robbed," by Thompson's self-serving implied promises to keep students on the island if parents voted for the bond issue. Now let's see if Thompson has the wisdom of Solomon.

I doubt it.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

James Simons Move Delayed Again?

The Charleston County School District can't blame this further delay on either parents or rain.

James Simons Elementary, which CCSD announced last summer would be in temporary quarters until October, will not be moving until at least Thanksgiving. We can't wait to see what creative excuse the district proffers to parents this time.

Meanwhile, the district is keeping this further delay under wraps as long as possible: administration doesn't want the parents to know until the last minute. Maybe the delay involves coming up with an excuse.

As they say, is this any way to run an airline, that is, school district?