Charleston County School District Minority Students: Shortchanged For Decades

By Beverly Gadson-Birch 
 

Is there any good news lately? Well, let me share some good news/bad news as it relates to the Charleston County School District State and National Best High Schools rankings for 2016 by US News & World Report. What prompted this article was the recent news that SC is ranked #45 in the nation. In 2015, SC ranked #43. Charleston County School Board has failed to close the achievement gap between black and white students. That is no per chance occurrence. The educational disparities have been clearly orchestrated and ongoing since integration.

Let’s take a look at what US News reported and what some state educators are trying to refute.

CHARLESTON COUNTY HIGH SCHOOLS RECOGNIZED ON THE NATIONAL LEVEL:

Academic Magnet – State Ranking: #1  Gold National Ranking:#8   Student Enrollment: 617
White   Black     Hawaiian/Pacific   Hispanics   Asian   2 or more Races     N. Alaskan/A. Indian
  85%      3%             0.2%                    2%          7%             2%                       0.3%


School of the Arts – State Ranking: #2-Gold National Ranking:#349 Student Enrollment: 1,090 White   Black     Hawaiian/Pacific    Hispanic    Asian     2 or more Races   N. Alaskan/A. Indian
  77%     13%             0.4                      3%           4%              2%                      0.3%

Wando High – State Ranking: #6-Silver National Ranking: #1139 Student Enrollment: 3,701
  White   Black    Hawaiian/Pacific   Hispanic     Asian    2 or more Races    N. Alaskan/A. Indian

    83%    12%             0%                    3%           1%              1%                       0.1%

***Note: It’s interesting to note that Wando High had a 89% graduation rate but only 40.5% were College Readiness even with a 17.1 student/teacher ratio.

Baptist Hill High – State Ranking: National Ranking: (Nationally Recognized) Bronze
Student Enrollment: 411
  White    Black     Hawaiian/Pacific   Hispanic      Asian       2 or more Races   N. Alaskan/A. Indian
     6%       88%            0%                     5%             0%            1%                        0%


***Note: It is interesting to note that while Baptist Hill did not make the State’s list, they received a Bronze Award Nationally. Baptist Hill has a 77% graduation rate, 3.9% College Readiness; 16% of Advanced Placement students were tested and 0% passed. 94% minority enrollment and 90% totally economically disadvantage.

Military Magnet State Ranking: National Ranking: (Nationally recognized) Bronze
Student Enrollment: 470
  White   Black     Hawaiian/Pacific   Hispanic     Asian        2 or more Races    N. Alaskan/A. Indian
    6%      83%            0%                      9%            0%               2%                        0.2%


***Note: Military Magnet did not make the State’s list but received a Bronze Award Nationally. 94% of the students are Minority; 82% are Economically Disadvantaged.

I believe in beginning at home. The above are a few of Charleston County School District’s high schools that are making the mark. Elementary and Middle Schools are not included because that’s another story for another day. However, the US News and World Report figures are compelling enough for parents to say enough is enough. How long will you sit back and allow a system of mediocracy without demanding accountability? How long? Before we begin to look at how CCSD students are measuring up statewide, we need to look at how they are doing locally. There is quite a bit of room for improvements right here at home.

I commend those educators that are committed to educating all students alike—for exceeding expectations and for having a genuine love for students and your profession. It is evidenced in your students. However, I have nothing but disdain for a school board that has perpetuated a dual class educational system for years that has failed generations of students. Superintendent Postlewait refers to the deficit in education as “soft bigotry”. I refer to it as “harsh bigotry”. There is nothing soft about discrimination or exclusion.

Charleston County School Board needs to take a serious look at how to right years of “harsh bigotry” and stop denying that it exists. Disavowal simply means we can look forward to more of the same. Acknowledgement means the district recognizes the problem and is willing to move forward.

Parents, listen up!! If your child’s overall performance and test scores do not wake you up to the “harsh bigotry” within CCSD I don’t know what else will. If your child is not in the top three schools listed above, you are doing your child a disservice. Simply put!

You must demand an equitable education for your child. And, If SC is ranked #45 out of 50 states, it’s because she does not value her greatest asset—her children.

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