Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Someone Knows Who: Fire Set in Charter School Bathroom

Maybe he or she had an exam this morning. Let's hope someone who loves his or her school has the guts to tell who set the fire at the Charleston School for Math and Science. The little miscreant could move on to bigger and nastier pranks.
Intentionally set fire breaks out in Charleston Charter School for Math and Science bathroom  By Jack Evans

Toilet paper dispensers in two bathroom stalls acted as fuel for a fire Tuesday morning at the Charleston Charter School for Math and Science, officials said.

The fire was set intentionally, Charleston Fire Department Deputy Fire Marshal Rick Anewalt said. Crews responded at about 10 a.m. to the school, located at 1002 King Street, and extinguished the fire.

An evacuation was already underway when crews arrived, and no injuries were reported. The incident is still under investigation.

Though the fire was contained to the bathroom, Anewalt said water from the sprinkler system caused more serious damage when it overflowed the bathroom and went into the second-floor hallway.

Anewalt said he didn't want to speculate on the financial extent of the damages, but "it's definitely going to be more than $10,000."

Except for one area damaged by smoke and water, the school was reoccupied and remained open for the rest of the day, according to a Facebook post from the fire department. Fire investigators, along with school officials and the Charleston Police Department, are reviewing the incident.

Mary Carmichael, executive director of the Public Charter School Alliance of South Carolina, said in an email statement the school will be open Wednesday.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Make It Stop! CCSD's Postlewait Misjudges Community Reaction to Change

No one, least of all yours truly, denies that the Charleston County School District has a fraught load of problems that the sainted previous superintendent left for her successor. During Gerrita Postlewait's short tenure, she had seemed to understand how to proceed without getting stuck in the mud. No more.

What caused the superintendent to behave as she has is unclear. Certainly, the abysmal scores on an unbiased national achievement test (the ACT) may well have been a factor. Her initial request to the Board of Trustees to hand her the power to hire and fire principals passed with barely a discussion. The new meeting regime with only one per month meant for the public at large displaced input from the community but calmed the waters. Now her efforts to change the educational climate in some failing schools have blown up in her face. You could almost feel sorry for her--until you remember that she's paid over $200,000 per year to steer our schools in the right direction.

Who would want to be a teacher in Charleston County? Perhaps a glutton for punishment! So many flaws have appeared in the value-added system of teacher evaluation that most districts have already abandoned it. CCSD has come late to the party. What schools need is effective leadership from principals. Any teacher worth her salt knows that the principal makes or breaks the school climate. Question: is CCSD's system of assistant superintendents allowing its principals to do their jobs?

We might as well have a value-added system of parent evaluation, for all the good it would do.

Data driven? 

How about common-sense driven? 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

CCSD's Early College High School on Palmer Campus

"Applications are being accepted for the Charleston County School District's new Early College High School, which opens in the fall and will let students take college-credit courses through Trident Technical College.
If students stay on track, they can graduate high school with as much as an associate degree completed.
Kinda surprised that the NAACP hasn't accused the Charleston County School District of trying to take good students away from Burke. Still a good idea.
“We are looking for those kids who are hard workers and have the ability to get the work done,” said Kim Wilson, the school district's executive director of secondary learning.
“They just need some support in place to help them be successful at whatever they decide to do, whether it’s a four-year college, two-year college, they go in to the workforce right after high school or they join the military.”
The school will accept up to 100 students for the ninth grade only. It will add grades 10 through 12 in the coming years.
Modeled after a similar Horry County program, the school will be housed on Trident Tech's Palmer Campus in downtown Charleston. Students will take high school courses from a small staff while pursuing college-credit courses at Trident.
According to the school district, the school is "designed to encourage student groups who are underrepresented in post-secondary education, such as students of color, English language learner (ELL) students, students from low-income families, and prospective first-generation college students." 
The district has budgeted $647,000 for Early College High School to cover its costs, including administrative staff, transportation, supplies and one teacher each in English, math, science and social studies. That funding will also cover tuition for Trident Tech courses.
The district will provide transportation to the school, and students will be allowed to participate in arts and athletic programs at their neighborhood schools.
To apply, go to ccsdschools.com and click on "Early College High School Application" under the Quick Links sidebar. Applications are due June 1.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Prosecute Former Estill Principal Over Sex Activity in Middle School

What happened in Estill Middle School four years ago should make every parent and taxpayer angry. We should especially be really, really enraged that no one has held an adult  responsible for activities that harmed the students under the school's care. Who was in charge of the school, the principal or its preteen students?

The school may have the worst physical environment, the highest percentage of free-lunch students, and be nearly 100 percent black. None of that matters if the adults in charge are in fact doing their jobs. Annoying as it is, we can understand that prosecutors could not bring a strong case of criminal conduct against the preteens; however, the same is not true of the principal and teachers. Universities may have abjured in loco parentis, but middle schools do not have that choice. Clearly, this activity was allowed by negligence.

You have to wonder, as I do, how much the activity of the previous school resource officer, now convicted of sexual assault of a student at the school, contributed to overall problems. No one was paying attention to his suspect activities either. Quintina Moore, the school resource officer who replaced him, at least had her head on straight and reported what was happening around her. She must be incredibly frustrated that no action against anyone concerned has taken place.

Well, perhaps one action happened. The principal of four years ago is now the assistant principal. 

Yes, you read that correctly. You can't make this stuff up. Why has Hampton County District 2 allowed Synetria Hawkins to continue supervising the students she failed? Must be related to Mr. Big.

No one can be held responsible for all of the ways in which preteens can hurt each other. However, providing a climate and lack of supervision that allows them to do so without repercussions should be prosecuted to the fullest extent. Ms. Hawkins loses her certification for life? Good.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Let's Go For It: Trump Admin Plans to Promote School Choice

Image result for school choice memes

People who don't support school choice have never faced sending a child to a school where discipline is poor and learning just about impossible. So my theory is that they wish for poor children to be stuck in those schools where they won't be seen or heard.

We have our own schools in Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester Counties that parents dread--or would dread if they knew what really comes down. 

Any push for school choice is a push for equity in educational opportunity for the poor and disadvantaged. All children can achieve given the right environment for learning.

And while we're at it, make sure that those students have access to transportation to schools of choice. Without transport, there is no choice.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

CCSD's Delay, Linger, & Wait on Lincoln HS Replacement

Wasn't it a done deal? Who else in Charleston County thought that the school district was all ready to build a new high school on the land it identified for us as an alternative to the now-closed Lincoln High School? Haven't various members told us just that for almost a year?

So it came as a shock to learn that the district has now retreated to square one because the land--which apparently was never purchased--consists mainly of wetlands. Too bad we're not playing a board game here.. Someone could roll the dice to jump to the patch of land that would be adequate. 

Why did it take so long to identify the property as useless? Why is the present property owner's name top secret? Why has CCSD treated that end of the county in such a careless manner?  It takes years and millions of dollars to build a new high school. 

There'd better be a Plan B!