Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Highlights from the Stallings Report on CCSD (Charleston Teacher Alliance)

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Results are in from the Charleston Teacher Alliance's yearly survey of the Charleston County School District. Thanks to Moultrie News, highlights can be replicated here. 

Go to its Facebook page for the full report.

"Statement from Charleston Teacher Alliance Director, Jody Stallings:

On Principals:

“Teachers give plaudits to the many principals who are providing their schools with positive, effective leadership. Drayton Hall Elementary and Oakland Elementary should be singled out for a high level of sustained leadership. Unfortunately, the faculties of at least 29 of our schools are coping with principals whose leadership is only minimally effective or worse. And at some schools, including Baptist Hill High and Ellington Elementary, students and teachers have endured ineffective leadership for multiple years in succession. Providing effective leadership in all schools is crucial to recruiting good teachers and ensuring that all students have a chance to succeed.

On the Superintendent:

“The superintendent’s increase over last year’s score reflects her effort to work with teachers on critical issues. Through her attempts to increase teacher salaries, implement a Teacher Cabinet, pay teachers for extra work when substitutes cannot be found, modify teacher evaluations to bring the county in line with state requirements, rein in unnecessary and expensive initiatives that make it difficult for teachers to do their jobs, and shake up leadership positions when leadership has proven to be ineffective, Dr. Postlewait has demonstrated improved leadership over the last year. Many teachers believe, however, that some critical issues, such as problems with the district’s progressive discipline plan and the massive burden of student overtesting, still need to be addressed.

On the school board:

“Most teachers are ambivalent about the school board, with some members being very receptive to teacher concerns and others pursuing an unclear agenda. Teachers believe that stronger interaction with teachers, more focused attention on issues that impact the classroom, supporting teachers in stronger discipline, and pursuit of better compensation for teachers will help us to be more effective and will help all students of Charleston County to learn and be successful.”

On the survey results:

“Teachers are doing their very best against long odds with often limited support. The heart of the teachers of Charleston County Schools is with their students. Teachers of this county demand no more of their principals, superintendent, and school board than they demand of themselves: competence, dedication to improvement, and focus on what matters most. We believe that for all three groups (principals, teachers, and school board) the key to success is constructive collaboration with the people who teach and reach our students day in and day out: teachers.”

The Charleston Teacher Alliance is the largest teacher advocacy group in Charleston county. Its membership includes over 1100 CCSD teachers. Jody Stallings, Director of the CTA, is an 8th grade English teacher at Moultrie Middle School."

Monday, July 30, 2018

More Fallout from Postlewait's "Marketing" Hire

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This Letter to the Editor from one of the most respected educators in Charleston County:

"Marketing firm no way to communicate

The recent revelation that Charleston County School District Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait hired a Columbia-based marketing firm (Post and Courier, July 10) should alarm the public not just because of the $64,000 price tag, but because of what it says about the superintendent’s inability to communicate directly with the public.

The superintendent has a difficult job dealing with complex planning, budget and policy issues, but one area that should not be difficult is communicating with teachers, administrators, parents and the public. That Gerrita Postlewait has struggled with this basic administrative function and resorted to hiring a marketing firm is reason enough to demand a new superintendent to lead the district.

As a former CCSD Teacher of the Year and the founder of the Charleston Teacher Alliance, I have met frequently with CCSD superintendents over the last 20-plus years. Sometimes these meetings have been collaborative, and other times they have been contentious.

But while teachers may not have always liked what they heard from superintendents regarding budgetary constraints, previous superintendents like Ron McWhirt, Maria Goodloe-Johnson and Nancy McGinley always treated teachers with respect. As a result, teachers successfully implemented the vast majority of initiatives despite low pay and challenging working conditions.

The sense of honesty and collaboration that guided previous superintendents has been replaced by confrontation and indifference under Ms. Postlewait. Instead of talking directly to teachers, she hires a marketing firm to communicate. Instead of engaging school-based administrators, she disrupts schools and communities by shuffling principals like branch managers of a bank.

Instead of evaluating teachers based on established standards, she uses test scores that were never designed for the purpose of teacher evaluation.

Perhaps most ominously, she has met repeatedly with Michelle Rhee, who before she left her job as Washington, D.C., school chancellor infamously offered to fire a principal in front of a reporter doing a profile of her for PBS NewsHour. No amount of marketing will cover up the chaos that pervades the district under Postlewait’s leadership.

Ms. Postlewait has had three years to show that she can lead this complicated and challenging school district. By hiring a marketing firm and engaging with Michelle Rhee, she has shown that she is the wrong person for the job.

Andrew HaLevi, Ph.D
Broad Street

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Charleston County Schools' Principal Shuffling Affects Bottom Line, Results

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"What USC researchers Henry Tran, Jessica McCormick and Trang Nguyen wanted to measure was the sheer financial impact of replacing a principal — both in terms of up-front budgetary needs and in terms of the money and time that could have been spent elsewhere."

Their study was published in the journal Management in Education this month.

We hope Superintendent Postlewait reads it!

The AVERAGE cost for each replacement was $24 thousand, but of the six districts studied, one clocked in at more than twice that amount. Don't you wonder where in SC that was? Hmmm.

Let's assume that the cost in CCSD is $30,000. That means that the Charter School for Math and Science has spent $300,000 in time and money over the last nine years. Sanders-Clyde spent $180,000 in eight years, and North Charleston High chewed up $240,000 in ten years.

The article doesn't even take into account the discouragement endured by teachers at those schools. No wonder teacher turnover is so prolific.

Have principals in the Charleston County School District once appointed been given the proverbial five years to make a positive difference in the schools' cultures? Not likely, when our superintendent wishes to shuffle them around like bank managers.

Bank manager, school principal--what's the difference?

The researchers go on to suggest that principal pay should be higher. If it is truly 24th in the nation, it's high enough already. Teachers' pay is nowhere near that rank for this state.

Money isn't the problem. It's the culture of constant change promoted by superintendents who churn positions in order to appear proactive.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Jody Stallings's Latest Writing on CCSD's "Banned" Books Deserves Attention

So much common sense 😂😍

Teacher to Parent - Books have nearly as much power as people
BY Jody Stallings Special to the Moultrie News Jul 25, 2018

Q. I read that the local order of police wants the book "The Hate U Give" (by Angie Thomas) removed from a high school reading list. We should encourage children to read anything they can. What can parents do to support teachers and stand up to the book banners?

Let’s be real. This isn’t “book banning.” True book banning means the government makes it illegal to possess the book. Read Ray Bradbury’s "Fahrenheit 451" for details.

Removing a controversial book from a reading list or disallowing it in a classroom is what should be called “responsible decision making.” (Or, perhaps, “irresponsible decision making,” depending on the decision).

The police want "The Hate U Give" removed because they believe it fertilizes a resentment of law enforcement in young adults. They want to help protect our children, the rule of law, and their own lives. You might end up disagreeing with them, but don’t they have the right to make the case for their concern?

Book selection is the most important curricular decision an educator can make. Books have nearly as much power as people to change minds, hearts, and even history. I give teachers a lot of latitude in making educational choices, including books, but because books are so powerful, isn’t it reasonable to have public accountability?

Those who rant against “censorship” and “book banning” are often being hypocritical. Suppose a teacher assigned students to read Playboy or a book glamorizing the KKK. Does the PTA have the right to “ban” this material? Most of us would say “of course,” even the ranters.

So if we believe it’s okay to disallow “certain” books, then we have to determine who gets a say in the decision. This is where the conflict erupts.

The ranters would say, “Teachers and school officials alone should decide.” But public education doesn’t exist for teachers. It exists for children. Teachers are merely servants to kids, parents, and the public. Even though we have discretion in crafting our curricula (or should), what’s wrong with accepting help from school boards, PTAs, and citizens to help us decide which books our children read? It doesn’t mean that any one group should have veto power. But if the police or parents or anybody else has concerns about a book, their concerns should be discussed and debated. And if there is validity to those concerns, what’s wrong with simply replacing the book with a better choice?

“But children should talk about current events,” the ranters say. Fine, but can’t we find the universal truths that underlie current events in books whose excellence is largely uncontested? My eighth grade students last year were able to relate the values in "To Kill a Mockingbird" to current events with ease. And don’t you think Julius Caesar might have something to say about today’s landscape? Most “current” books will be forgotten once they’re no longer current. Does anyone still read Gloria Miklowitz’s "After the Bomb" or "Unwed Mother?" Why should we settle for feeding our children junk food ephemera when we could be giving them a nutritional feast that has stood the test of time?

“It’s frightening that parents should have so much power over book selection,” say the ranters. I can think of two things that are way more frightening than parents being concerned over what their kids are reading: 1) Parents who don’t care at all about what their kids are reading. 2) A world where teachers make unilateral decisions about what goes into our children’s minds without any accountability. When a teacher chooses "Looking for Alaska' instead of "Walden," the teacher is basically “banning” "Walden," is she not? Doesn’t it make sense for such sweeping discretionary power to at least be superintended?

“We have the right to free speech,” the ranters proclaim. But a right without responsibility is a deadly toxin. Just because we can shout vulgarities, print pornography, and promote racism doesn’t mean we should do so. And it doesn’t mean that citizens should have to sit in silence if a public school decides to disseminate those ideas to their children.

“We should encourage children to read anything they can,” you state. I do not agree. A book is only as meaningful as its ideas, and not every idea needs to be planted in our children’s minds. My students must write reports on books of their choice, but I have to approve the books. I’ve recently had to disallow "Fifty Shades of Gray" and "Mein Kampf." I “banned” these books because I’m an adult, and they’re kids, and that’s what adults are supposed to do for children. As Special Agent Dale Cooper said, “There are things dark and heinous in this world. Things too horrible to tell our children.” Those books will still be available for them when they’re adults. Why encourage them to rush so soon into the darkness?

I’ve read the Constitution, and I am utterly unafraid of losing our right to print and peruse whatever books we choose. What terrifies me, however, is the possibility that we may be letting go of our responsibility to give our children our best and, if necessary, to shield them from the “dark and heinous” things in this world.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

CCSD's Inept $2 Million Communications Team

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You would like to think that, if a school district spends $2.3 million per year on "Strategy and Communications," as its administrative office is named, it wouldn't need outside help.

Apparently CCSD did. As former principal Jake Rambo discovered after an attempted stonewalling, the district hired a Columbia firm, Chernoff Newman, to quell the outcry over the botched roll-out of a new teacher evaluation system. Perhaps you remember the turmoil stirred more than a year ago when "angered by a new evaluation system that tied teachers' reviews in part to student performance on standardized tests, and in part by a shuffling of about a dozen principals that Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait compared to a CEO shuffling branch managers, [crowds] railed against the district's leadership."

Heads should have rolled in the administration's communications department, but why fire incompetent people? They need jobs, too. Instead, the district called in the cavalry and hid the contract from prying eyes until Rambo's discovery.

"After receiving a tip about the Chernoff Newman contract, Rambo submitted an Oct. 3 Freedom of Information Act request for records of all payments and communications with the company, only to get a response on Nov. 9 that the district did not have any records relevant to his request. He said he found the Dec. 12 payment by chance this month while combing through district budget statements."

Watch out folks.

Monday, July 23, 2018

CCSD's Floating Consultant and Questionable CFO Hire

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Who is Beth Havens, and what value does she add to the Charleston County School District at a cost of $188,000? She has worked for edublob organization Education Elements and seems to have made Postlewait's acquaintance in Horry County. 

A personal friend?

Havens "floats" to tasks created by Postlewait in different administrative departments, according to Robin Steinberger of Lowcountry Source. "She has also served as a personal advocate for school board member Eric Mack’s daughter at St. Johns High School on Johns Island."

Maybe there's a good reason that a school board member's daughter needs a personal advocate. We'd like to hear it.

Meanwhile, questions still remain regarding the hiring of Don Kennedy as CCSD's Chief Financial Officer. Kennedy left the Seattle school district (where he was hired by former CCSD Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson) under a cloud. It seems "questionable contracting decisions" were at issue. He previously served with her in Charleston.

Five candidates applied for to be CFO; Kennedy did not, but he was hired anyway.

Hmmm. Old friends indeed.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Saner Heads Reject Archer School Tear Down

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Though the Charleston County School District ploughs ahead with "demolition by neglect," the eight years that the Henry P. Archer School building has stood abandoned were not enough for the Board of Architectural Review to approve a tear down, even for an "affordable housing development."

East Side and other Charleston residents breathed a sigh of relief. The City Council has no business getting into the "affordable housing" business in any event. No one else wants to see our landmarks erased for generic apartment buildings. Get over it, Mayor Tecklenburg!

"Sally Ballard said historic schools such as Immaculate Conception School on Coming Street and Buist Academy on Calhoun Street have been preserved and redeveloped without needing to be torn down."

The district's pouring millions into football stadiums; it can dedicate some to cultural history.

"The original schoolhouse was built for black children in the segregated 1930s, with other wings added on over the years as its overcrowding problems grew. For decades, it was one of three elementary schools for black students in the city. Civil rights icon Septima P. Clark was a teacher there in the 1950s, until she was fired from the school district for working with NAACP."

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Padron for Charleston County School Board!

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Novel, isn't it? The idea that Charleston County School Board trustees should actually know what goes on in the district? Although Paul Padron could retire on his laurels, which are many, he's decided to run for Eric Mack's West Ashley seat on the school board. 

Either he's a glutton for punishment, or he's one of those few who care beyond their own careers about what happens to education in the county. Actually, he may be both.

Though he came as a four year old from Cuba, Padron has been on the local scene for decades. A graduate of Baptist College, now renamed Charleston Southern, he has been a teacher at Brentwood Middle, Associate Principal at Laing Middle, and Principal at Haut Gap Middle.

Special places are reserved in heaven, I'm convinced, for those who brave the tumult of middle schools!

Padron's record at Haut Gap was outstanding. As Lowcountry Source reported, 

"In 2007, Padron became principal of Haut Gap Middle School on Johns Island. Haut Gap had 198 students and was considered one of the most persistently dangerous schools in South Carolina when he arrived. He introduced the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program to improve behavior, and for the first two years, dramatically improved reading and math scores. In his third year, he introduced the Advanced Studies Magnet Program. The program was a huge success and attracted students from Johns Island who had refused to attend the previously low-performing school."

"Padron stayed at Haut Gap for four years and finished out his career with Charleston County School District (CCSD) in several administrative jobs including Executive Director of Middle Schools. His final assignment was principal at Deer Park Middle School in North Charleston. He was there for two years and [retired] at the end of the current school year."

"Padron wants to strengthen neighborhood schools, continue support for reading after the 3rd grade (where It typically ends), and give principals more flexibility in funding. He states, 'Human capital, students and teachers, are where money should be spent, not bureaucracy.'”

Oh, yes.🙌

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

P&C Shamed Into Reporting Rambo's Confirmation of CCSD's Image Consultant

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Two days after the following article appeared in Lowcountry Source the outcry from local citizens forced our local rag to cover the story.

"CCSD spends $65,000 on image consultant    July 09   by Robin Steinberger

Jake Rambo, a candidate for the Charleston County School Board, uncovered a $65,000 payment made by Charleston County School District (CCSD) to Chernoff Newman, LLC. Chernoff Newman is a large public relations firm with offices in Columbia and Charleston.

A CCSD employee reached out to Rambo in September 2017. This source was upset that Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait used district funds to hire Chernoff Newman as an image consultant during the summer of 2017.

Based on this information, Rambo sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on October 3, 2017 requesting a record of all correspondence and payments to Chernoff Newman. November 9, 2017 Rambo received a response to the FOIA stating the district did not currently have any records of that transaction.

Rambo was recently exploring the finances of CCSD in preparation for his school board campaign. He came across a check for $64,396 to Chernoff Newman, LLC written on December 12, 2017. This check was written from the General Operating Fund under the category of Other Purchase Services. This is a special budget category used for payments to consultants.

The payment to Chernoff Newman was after the response to Rambo’s FOIA request, but Rambo questions the district’s response to his request for copies of all correspondence, contending that not all correspondence took place between November 9 and December 12, 2017 to warrant a $64,396 payment.

Rambo further states, “If Postlewait wanted good PR, she could have used that $65,000 to refund teachers for personal expenses for classroom materials. Charleston County School Board should approve all hiring for consultants.”

Rambo was the principal at James B. Edwards Elementary School (JBE) in Mt. Pleasant. He learned that he was being reassigned to an undetermined school as part of the large CCSD principal shuffle of 2017, after only two years at JBE. Rambo questioned the validity of the new teacher evaluation instrument based almost completely on test scores. The parents at JBE started an online petition urging the district to keep him as school principal. When the district failed to do so, he resigned. He is currently a recruiter for Construction Professionals Incorporated."

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!" (Sir Walter Scott, 1808).

Rambo just earned my vote.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Charleston County School Board Should Vote on Increased Pay

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Would you assume that a multi-million-dollar company run by "enthusiastic volunteers" would operate competently? Yet that's exactly what our system of a superintendent overseen by an elected school board assumes. No wonder we have problems.

Charleston County's school board is among the lowest paid in the entire state. How did that happen? It probably slipped by along with the re-segregation of most downtown schools. It's the rich members who don't want a raise. What does that tell you?

Remember the definition of insanity? Yes, it's time for a change. 

The SC legislature overrode McMaster's veto of allowing those board members to raise their own pay up to $9,600 per year. It's time for the board to vote.

Next November if you believe that those running for the school board aren't worth that amount of money, then vote them out. 

Monday, July 09, 2018

High-Paying Trade Jobs Unfilled as Many Grapple with Unpaid College Student Loans

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Forget what Obama said about everyone getting a college degree and read the following transcript from National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."

High-Paying Trade Jobs Sit Empty, While High School Grads Line Up For University
April 25, 2018
Heard on All Things Considered

Garret Morgan is training as an ironworker near Seattle and already has a job that pays him $50,000 a year. Like most other American high school students, Garret Morgan had it drummed into him constantly: Go to college. Get a bachelor's degree. "All through my life it was, 'if you don't go to college you're going to end up on the streets,' " Morgan said. "Everybody's so gung-ho about going to college."

So he tried it for a while. Then he quit and started training as an ironworker, which is what he is doing on a weekday morning in a nondescript high-ceilinged building with a concrete floor in an industrial park near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Morgan and several other men and women are dressed in work boots, hard hats and Carhartt's, clipped to safety harnesses with heavy wrenches hanging from their belts. They're being timed as they wrestle 600-pound I-beams into place.

Seattle is a forest of construction cranes, and employers are clamoring for skilled ironworkers. Morgan, who is 20, is already working on a job site when he isn't at the Pacific Northwest Ironworkers shop. He gets benefits, including a pension, from employers at the job sites where he is training. And he is earning $28.36 an hour, or more than $50,000 a year, which is almost certain to steadily increase. As for his friends from high school, "they're still in college," he said with a wry grin. "Someday maybe they'll make as much as me."

Some 30 million jobs in the United States that pay an average of $55,000 per year don't require bachelor's degrees. While a shortage of workers is pushing wages higher in the skilled trades, the financial return from a bachelor's degree is softening, even as the price — and the average debt into which it plunges students — keeps going up.

But high school graduates have been so effectively encouraged to get a bachelor's that high-paid jobs requiring shorter and less expensive training are going unfilled. This affects those students and also poses a real threat to the economy.

"Parents want success for their kids," said Mike Clifton, who teaches machining at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology, about 20 miles from Seattle. "They get stuck on [four-year bachelor's degrees], and they're not seeing the shortage there is in tradespeople until they hire a plumber and have to write a check."

In a new report, the Washington State Auditor found that good jobs in the skilled trades are going begging because students are being almost universally steered to bachelor's degrees. Among other things, the Washington auditor recommended that career guidance — including choices that require less than four years in college — start as early as the seventh grade.

"There is an emphasis on the four-year university track" in high schools, said Chris Cortines, who co-authored the report. Yet, nationwide, three out of 10 high school grads who go to four-year public universities haven't earned degrees within six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. At four-year private colleges, that number is more than 1 in 5.

"Being more aware of other types of options may be exactly what they need," Cortines said. In spite of a perception "that college is the sole path for everybody," he said, "when you look at the types of wages that apprenticeships and other career areas pay and the fact that you do not pay four years of tuition and you're paid while you learn, these other paths really need some additional consideration."

And it's not just in Washington state. Seventy-percent of construction companies nationwide are having trouble finding qualified workers, according to the Associated General Contractors of America; in Washington, the proportion is 80 percent.

There are already more trade jobs like carpentry, electrical, plumbing, sheet-metal work and pipe-fitting than Washingtonians to fill them, the state auditor reports. Many pay more than the state's average annual wage of $54,000.

Construction, along with health care and personal care, will account for one-third of all new jobs through 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There will also be a need for new plumbers and new electricians. And, as politicians debate a massive overhaul of the nation's roads, bridges and airports, the U.S. Department of Education reports that there will be 68 percent more job openings in infrastructure-related fields in the next five years than there are people training to fill them.

"The economy is definitely pushing this issue to the forefront," said Amy Morrison Goings, president of the Lake Washington Institute of Technology, which educates students in these fields. "There isn't a day that goes by that a business doesn't contact the college and ask the faculty who's ready to go to work."

In all, some 30 million jobs in the United States that pay an average of $55,000 per year don't require bachelor's degrees, according to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce. Yet the march to bachelor's degrees continues. And while people who get them are more likely to be employed and make more money than those who don't, that premium appears to be softening; their median earnings were lower in 2015, when adjusted for inflation, than in 2010.

"There's that perception of the bachelor's degree being the American dream, the best bang for your buck," said Kate Blosveren Kreamer, deputy executive director of Advance CTE, an association of state officials who work in career and technical education. "The challenge is that in many cases it's become the fallback. People are going to college without a plan, without a career in mind, because the mindset in high school is just, 'Go to college.' "

It's not that finding a job in the trades, or even manufacturing, means needing no education after high school. Most regulators and employers require certificates, certifications or associate degrees. But those cost less and take less time than earning a bachelor's degree. Tuition and fees for in-state students to attend a community or technical college in Washington State, for example, come to less than half the cost of a four-year public university, the state auditor points out, and less than a tenth of the price of attending a private four-year college.

People with career and technical educations are also more likely to be employed than their counterparts with academic credentials, the U.S. Department of Education reports, and significantly more likely to be working in their fields of study.

Young people don't seem to be getting that message. The proportion of high school students who earned three or more credits in occupational education — typically an indication that they're interested in careers in the skilled trades — has fallen from 1 in 4 in 1990 to 1 in 5 now, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Washington is not the only state devoting attention to this. California is spending $200 million to improve the delivery of career and technical education. Iowa community colleges and businesses are collaborating to increase the number of "work-related learning opportunities," including apprenticeships, job shadowing and internships. Tennessee has made its technical colleges free.

So severe are looming shortages of workers in the skilled trades in Michigan that Gov. Rick Snyder in February announced a $100 million proposal he likens to the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II. At the federal level, there is bipartisan support for making Pell grants available for short-term job-training courses and not just university tuition. The Trump administration supports the idea.

For all the promises to improve vocational education, however, a principal federal source of money for it, called Tech-Prep, hasn't been funded since 2011. A quarter of states last year reduced their own funding for postsecondary career and technical education, according to the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education.

Money isn't the only issue, advocates for career and technical education say. An even bigger challenge is convincing parents that it leads to good jobs. "They remember 'voc-ed' from when they were in high school, which is not necessarily what they aspire to for their own kids," Kreamer said.

The parents "are definitely harder to convince because there is that stigma of the six-pack-totin' ironworker," said Greg Christiansen, who runs the ironworkers training program. Added Kairie Pierce, apprenticeship and college director for the Washington State Labor Council of the AFL-CIO: "It sort of has this connotation of being a dirty job. 'It's hard work — I want something better for my son or daughter.' "

Of the $200 million that California is spending on vocational education, $6 million is going into a campaign to improve the way people regard it. The Lake Washington Institute of Technology changed its name from Lake Washington Technical College, said Goings, its president, to avoid being stereotyped as a vocational school.

These perceptions fuel the worry that, if students are urged as early as the seventh grade to consider the trades, then low-income, first-generation and ethnic and racial minority high school students will be channeled into blue-collar jobs while wealthier and white classmates are pushed by their parents to get bachelor's degrees. "When CTE was vocational education, part of the reason we had a real disinvestment from the system was because we were tracking low-income and minority kids into these pathways," Kreamer said. "There is this tension between, do you want to focus on the people who would get the most benefit from these programs, and — is that tracking?"

In a quest for prestige and rankings, and to bolster real-estate values, high schools also like to emphasize the number of their graduates who go on to four-year colleges and universities.

Jessica Bruce followed that path, enrolling in community college after high school for one main reason: because she was recruited to play fast-pitch softball. "I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life," she said. Now, she's an apprentice ironworker, making $32.42 an hour, or more than $60,000 a year, while continuing her training. At 5-foot-2, "I can run with the big boys," she said, laughing.

As for whether anyone looks down on her for not having a bachelor's degree, Bruce doesn't particularly care.

"The misconception," she said, "is that we don't make as much money."

And then she laughed again.

That's known as "having the last laugh."

Friday, July 06, 2018

Chris Collins's Letter to CCSD Districts 1 & 2 School Forum

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Chris Collins School Board News

Good morning friends,
Wicked 1 and wicked 2 of the Charleston County School Board had Harve Jacobs of channel five news to do a story on me which he aired nearly all week about me owing the Ethics Commission $25,000.00 . The ethics commission fined me $25,000.00 for being late on filing my report about four years ago. This story has been in the news several times already and on front page of Post and Courier. So what are these School Board devils up to now? These are the same ones that do not answer to the public but give the superintendent all power to do whatever she wants without School Board approval. They don’t support teachers, students nor parents. At the time my business property was being foreclosed on and we were relocating when the letter came. It was an oversight on my behalf, but I didn’t owe any money and didn’t commit any crime to be given such an outrageous fine. Criminals get fined less for breaking the law. Why charge someone serving children and earning $25.00 for their service to the community such a penalty as 25k. This isn’t new news. I am on a payment plan and the state intercepts my federal income taxes. They have taken my school board stipend in the past and have taken money from my wife’s pay check. I am taking care of my children and wife and supporting others in need. I want you all to know this is the work of school board members wicked 1 & 2. From the very beginning wicked 1 was reporting lies on me to the ethics commission and trying to get me off the school board. She wants me gone because I speak for the public and for our children. I ask questions. I don’t keep quiet to get along.
However, this person doesn’t serve the community at all. She needs to get off the school board immediately.

I am sorry for being in debt, but please pray that God will deliver my family from this financial burden.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Stealthy Admin Hires in CCSD May Violate State Law

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Thanks to Lowcountry Source for reporting the following:

CCSD adds unadvertised administrative jobs
 by Robin Steinberger

Lowcountry Source has learned the Charleston County School District (CCSD) Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait is adding administrative jobs without posting them on-line or gaining school board approval. The positions are given the designation “interim” and the employees are paired with directors or executive directors who are already receiving six-figure salaries. A new position was created for former elementary school principal John Cobb – Executive Director of Administrator Mentoring and Coaching. Cobb is only mentoring one administrator. Filling these positions without posting them on-line and setting up an interview process may be a violation of state employment law.

The CCSD did post the long-unfilled position of Chief Financial Officer in 2017 and interviewed five candidates. The district wound up hiring Don Kennedy to the position. Kennedy did not apply for the job and accepted it without the customary audit.

Lowcountry Source has also learned about the practice of vendors hiring “street consultants” to attempt to persuade or coerce school board members into approving high-dollar contracts.

Ah, everything old is new again!

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Wando HS Provides Lesson in Book Banning

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It's not even Banned Books Week yet, and our local rag is already preparing for it. That's why a plaintive complaint from the Charleston-area Fraternal Order of Police chapter, Tri-County Lodge #3, was slapped down with "An Abridged History of Book Bans" in South Carolina. It's an issue that liberals love--as long as they approve of the books. 

Can you imagine the outrage if, for example, the freshmen English teachers at Wando had put St. Paul's "Letter to the Romans" on the summer reading list? 

Some books are more equal than others.

"A local Fraternal Order of Police chapter asked schools to remove 'All American Boys' by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely and 'The Hate U Give' by Angie Thomas from summer reading lists at Wando High School." Their request was met with disdain and disparagement. The reporter implied that probably the members hadn't read the books in question.

"The American Library Association put "The Hate U Give" on its list of Top 10 Most Challenged Books for 2017, although the challenges in other parts of the country had more to do with the book's depictions of drug use, profanity and offensive language, according to the ALA. In addition to the shooting, the first chapter includes curse words, a reference to condoms, and depictions of teenagers smoking marijuana and taking MDMA. In the Charleston area, critics are focusing on the book's portrayal of police officers." Gee, I wonder why.

In other words, one of the reasons that the book was selected was that it makes the latest trendy lists of challenged books.

Wando followed the usual protocol in response to complaints: "the school has kept the original four books on the English I CP list and added four more books to the list, bringing the number of options to eight." Sadly, this response does not remove the district's stamp of approval on the books concerned.

Unfortunately, it's not the books that are the problem: it's the attitude of the teachers. Are they prepared to be even-handed in their discussion of these books? What if the teacher hates police?

Let's use another example. Most educated parents believe that knowledge of the writings of Karl Marx should be part of any study of history or economics. It makes a difference, especially at the high-school level, whether the teacher is a committed Marxist, doesn't it?

Comments from Sara Peck, a teacher at the independent University School of the Lowcountry, won't make the police feel any better. "Maybe (the Fraternal Order of Police) could spend less time censoring books and more time teaching empathy among themselves — or how to not kill black people," Peck said. "It seems there could be a better use of their time."

Can you hear your disdain, Ms. Peck? Probably not.

Peck "read the book aloud with eighth-grade students." Sorry, but reading aloud seems more fitted to fourth graders. Can't her students read? 

Who got to read aloud the juicy part with "drug use, profanity and offensive language" as well as "curse words, a reference to condoms, and depictions of teenagers smoking marijuana and taking MDMA"? That must have made those thirteen year olds feel really grown up. But then perhaps this teacher expects them to use such language as normal speech in her classroom.

The reporter suggests that "Parents, politicians and activists have been trying to keep certain books out of the hands of students for decades in the U.S. South Carolina is no exception." 

No, they've been trying to keep school districts from giving certain books the stamp of approval. Anyone with a brain knows teenagers will read whatever they want.

"Finding Your Activism" doesn't sound as though it will be a lecture friendly to the police either.

P.S. Twentieth-Century Fox is filming "The Hate U Give," having been inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. I did not make that last part up--that's what the company says.