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Quality Education Program Weighs In On Upcoming School Board Elections
10/19/2016 3:27:32 PM

Millicent Brown
By Millicent Brown, QEP Co-Director & Nick Putnam, QEP Member & Concerned Citizen 

In addition to the presidential election, voters in Charleston County must be aware that five seats on the school board, over one half of the nine board positions, are up for re-election. This presents an opportunity to finally elect representatives who are willing to seriously address major issues facing all students and teachers. It also presents a chance to fundamentally transform a school board that has historically failed to meet the needs of all students in Charleston County.

The Charleston County School District (CCSD) has been subject to criticisms on a number of fronts, but some of the most notable have been the district’s ongoing lack of consideration for students of color on matters of discipline, the availability of equitable educational resources, providing a culturally inclusive curriculum, and the proliferation of privatized schools under a dubious “school choice” policy.

All prospective board members must demonstrate their preparedness to address the educational needs and concerns of all facets of the community, but particularly those who have experienced and understand the district’s generational neglect of students of color. Clear and decisive steps must be taken to reverse the effects of decades of discrimination and exclusion. To aid in this effort, the Quality Education Project, a community-based research organization concerned with the status of equitable public education in Charleston County School District, is committed to helping elect qualified members to both the consolidated and constituent school boards with the leadership skills and vision to provide a quality education to all students.

QEP is also committed to clarifying the electoral process for school board positions because the current process in Charleston County is complicated at best.

Given its size, CCSD has an election process that can be difficult to navigate for both candidates and voters - particularly when electing consolidated school board members. CCSD is comprised of one consolidated school board and nine constituent school boards.

There are nine seats on the consolidated school board with one representative from each of the nine constituent school districts within CCSD. Consolidated school board candidates must be residents of the districts they wish to represent, but must campaign for votes from the entire school district. Constituent school board members also must be residents of the constituent district they wish to represent, but only receive votes from the citizens within their district.

QEP has asked for CCSD’s help in the mobilization of voters so that both the consolidated and constituent school boards are truly representative of the populations they serve.

Voter registration among teachers in South Carolina is shockingly low; an approximate yet dismal 15% of South Carolina teachers are registered. If state statistics are in anyway representative of teacher voter registration in Charleston, CCSD teachers are severely underrepresented in both the consolidated and constituent school boards. QEP has inquired about CCSD’s support in the organization of a voting drive aimed at registering teachers, staff, students old enough to vote.

QEP calls upon all voters to support prospective candidates that strive to become board members who are prepared to focus all available resources on implementing what we know can work in all schools under the direction of the Charleston County School District such as longer school terms and days, better paid teachers, two teachers in a classroom, and greater autonomy for teachers and principals overseen by a strong and effective School Improvement Councils (SICs). There is also a critical need to organize and register voters to support candidates who as board members are prepared to address major civil rights issues and constitutional violations of the law such as those of inadequate early childhood funding as found in Abbeville v. South Carolina.

Further, as an organization, QEP firmly believes in enhancing the voices and participation of those most directly affected by current school reform efforts. The school board election is only one way to improve the quality of education provided in Charleston County. After the election, QEP kindly asks for everyone to consider becoming more involved in the task of improving our public education.

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