Wednesday, August 27, 2014

CCSD's "Core" List Satisfies Vote Totals for Sales Tax--They Hope

Surely even the most enthusiastic supporters for building a new Lincoln High School realize that the mushrooming student population at Wando (now the state's biggest high school and approaching 4,000 students) begs for a new Mt. Pleasant high school first. Let's face it: Lincoln's 100 students would be merely a blip on Wando's radar screen.

On the other hand, if the Charleston County School District builds a new high school for McClellanville, ignoring the historical elegance and millions in investment already made in the original McClellanville school building, let's not build it in McClellanville.

In fact, the new Mt. Pleasant high school should be built halfway between the Wando campus and downtown McClellanville. That would work out to be the center of Awendaw. Imagine that! In a few years it won't seem so out of the way to new residents of Mt. Pleasant either, since development will continue galloping north.


I've just solved the problem of McClellanville's new high school and Mt. Pleasant's at one fell swoop. There's no need to spend half a million developing plans for a new Lincoln either, unless the administration is trying to keep its architects busy.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Teachers, Not Their Unions, Finding Common Core Standards Contemptible

Diane Ravitch reports:
A poll commissioned by "Education Next," a conservative journal, finds that the public supports the idea of common standards but the support drops sharply when asked about Common Core. See the Edweek account here
The biggest declines from 2013 to 2014 were among teachers and Republicans. Support among Democrats remained steady at about 63-64%. The proportion of Republicans supporting Common Core dropped from 57% to 43%. Certain prominent Republicans continue to promote Common Core, including Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Other Republican governors.
The biggest decline in support was among teachers. Support dropped from 76% to 46%. This sharp decline is notable not only for its size but for two other reasons: first, both national teachers' unions have endorsed Common Core and reiterated their support for Common Core at their national conventions just weeks ago. Second, of the various groups questioned, teachers are the most knowledgable about the Common Core since almost every state is training teachers to Implement the new standards.
Peter Greene explains the decline of support among teachers with this phrase: "Familiarity breeds contempt." He says, "I'm hoping leadership in both unions takes a good hard look at this result. Again-- a group that is committed to promoting CCSS, that has a vested interest is being able to say that people and teachers love the Core, has determined that teachers do not love the Core much at all. Please pay attention, union leaders."
The editors of "Education Next" are known for their hostility to teachers' unions and teacher tenure and their advocacy for school choice, including charters and vouchers.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

CCSD School Board Steps In It

Remember all those promises you made? It turns out some people want to hold the Charleston County School District to its promises. What a thought!

As a result, after foisting a 500-student building on a barrier island (Sullivans Island Elementary) because no school building could be built smaller, at a hurried last-minute meeting the school board voted to build a new school for fewer than 200 students in McClellanville. 

You can't make this stuff up.

A Letter to the Editor sums up this nightmare best:

Costly call
The 11th-hour decision by certain members of the Charleston County School Board to vote for a new $35 million Lincoln High School for, at best count, 170 kids, is an unmitigated folly of epic portions. 
Using fourth-grade math with second-grade logic should make it clear to anyone that this is a total misappropriation of public funds. 
When questioning the failures of the South Carolina education system, we should start with the failures of our local elected leaders. 
Joseph Wren
Carolina Isle
Mount Pleasant
Let's hear from our school board candidates on this decision! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

McClellanville Schools Badly Mismanaged by McGinley

Here sits the original McClellanville Public School, right in the heart of the town. Isn't it beautiful? Doesn't it look as a school really should, rather than resembling a loading dock on a warehouse, as so many modern schools do.

In 1921 the school housed all grades. It operated for more than fifty years, then was shuttered as the Charleston County School District attempted to force integration of its schools. (How did that work out for ya?).

Then after Hugo, the school was renovated at a cost of $4.4 million in taxpayer dollars (OPM). It operated as a middle school for about 19 years; then CCSD shut it down again.

That was more than five years ago, and for five years the building has sat unused, after spending all those millions. It must be nice that the school district is rolling in so much money that now as part of its new "penny" sales tax scam, it proposes to spend half a million on studying plans to renovate the building yet again to make a high school of it. That's not half a million to renovate; that's half a million to plan to renovate.

Really, this would be a joke if the Charleston County School District did a better job of educating its students in McClellanville. It's not funny.

You can easily predict that after studying the problem, McGinley will again propose sending McClellanville's high school students to Wando High School on a cost-effective basis. And why wasn't Wando built in a more northerly part of Mt. Pleasant? Could anyone look ahead to see the long bus ride that would be foisted upon McClellanville?


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Charleston's Kobrovsky Says, "Put a Grade on It"

Whether students receive conduct grades in the State of South Carolina depends on the policies of each school district. If State Board of Education member Larry Kobrovsky has his way, all students will receive such grades.

"Effort, punctuality, and neatness" would receive letter grades under the system. Charleston's Kobrovsky believes that such "skills" (let's call them habits?) are necessary for success. Such grades would stress personal responsibility.

Maybe these standards could be written so that parents can understand them, unlike some of the more esoteric standards for Common Core.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Why SC's High School Exit Exam Was Dropped

Last April after 30 years of requiring students to pass an exit exam to receive a high school diploma, the South Carolina state legislature, with the blessing of the education establishment in the state, dropped the requirement and even told those who had not received their diplomas in the last seven years to apply for them. What caused this change of heart?

We could surmise that the edublob feared falling scores due to implementation of Common Core.

We could conclude that, despite a continual dumbing down of the exit exam (HSAP), students were still failing at too high a rate for the comfort of the edublob.

Whatever it was, let's not forget the original purpose of that exam: students were receiving diplomas without the reading and computing skills needed to thrive in college or at work. Dropping the test will not change that  deplorable outcome one iota. If the items on the HSAP didn't correctly identify those who were deficient, then why did South Carolina pay out the millions it contracted to the edublob to create and then refine the test?

We are assured that WorkKeys and the ACT or SAT will fill the void left behind. While the purposes of those tests are valuable to students, will they truly reflect how well a particular school or school system has educated the student? Probably not.

What happened to accountability, folks?

Friday, August 08, 2014

P & C's Grammatical Atrocity for Friday

Where's the copy editor? Is there a copy editor?

from "Mixing Music, Politics" by Jeremy Borden

"His newly budding music career has also brought he and his wife to Charleston, where one of their three daughters live."

Maybe you should ask Jeremy if that's the way he wrote that sentence:

Thursday, August 07, 2014

State Superintendent Campaigns Dither on SC Test Scores

First, lame-duck State Superintendent Mick Zais didn't allow districts time to get their stories straight on why South Carolina students' test scores plummeted in most subjects this year. Looks like he didn't give Molly Spearman, Republican nominee for his replacement, or her Democrat opponent a chance to prepare talking points either, for neither campaign "could be reached for comment" for the lengthy and confusing article on test results prepared by the associated press reporter.

Ever hear of a major campaign that can't be reached? Right.

If the standards by which students are tested are changed every year, who cares what the results show? It's apples to oranges every time, just as the educrats like it. They are the ones who support Common Core with all of its drawbacks. If more students test as exemplary, while most scores fall, the results suggest that the test measures more native intelligence than learned subject matter.

Our major candidates for state superintendent are hiding from the press because both of them support the implementation of Common Core, and they sense the majority of voters do not.


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Sheheen's Incestuous Relationship with SCEA Showing

The South Carolina Education Association wants to be the equivalent of a teachers' union for South Carolina. If Vincent Sheheen has his way, it will become one.

Meanwhile, Sheheen will parrot every desire of the association. His "back-to-basics" education plan is anything but. What Sheheen knows about education can be written on the head of a pin, and a small one at that. He knows where his backers are, and "back-to-basics" has a nice ring to it. Too bad it's not about basics!

No, it's about money, otherwise known as OPM. Sheheen's education plans should be called "spend-more-money" education.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

CCSD's Incestuous Relationship with Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce

The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce never saw a sales tax it didn't like, but then who would expect it to advocate for the poor or even (gasp!) small businesses. 

Once again, the Chamber will run the campaign to convince Charleston County voters to vote against their own best interests and approve extending the one-percent sales tax for the Charleston County School District. Let's see if the voters can be fooled twice.

Point man for both the CCSD Board of Trustees and the Chamber is, you guessed it, Chris Fraser, who is a
member of the Board and chairman of the Chamber. How cosy. Needless to say, the Chamber always manages (with the collusion of CCSD) to have its own representative elected to the Board.

Fraser is a perfect example of how a supposedly non-partisan position can be used to advance interests other than those of students. Remember the payments to fired teachers who didn't get their proper hearings when Board members didn't show up? Fraser missed 29 of those 30 meetings. Well, he had other business to take care of for the Chamber, no doubt. Why, Fraser even brags that he doesn't bill his expenses to the district. Too bad he can't be billed for the payments to those teachers.

While Chairman of the CCSD Board, Fraser also signed off on CCSD's Race-to-the-Top grant proposal without telling the other members of the Board. Hasn't that worked out well?

It's been 30 years since the voters have been asked to approve a library expansion program in Charleston County. A referendum will be on the ballot this fall. 

That's the tax that we should vote for!