The Quality Education Project (QEP), a community and research-based organization that seeks to implement a quality education for all students within the public school system, submitted the following statement regarding the future of Garrett Academy of Technology:
On Monday, the Charleston County School Board will vote to determine the location of the new Center for Advanced Studies (CAS) program in North Charleston. The Quality Education Project supports building the new CAS at Garrett High School as opposed to a different location.
First, building the new CAS in a location other than Garrett will jeopardize the future of this school, which serves over 400 students. This is yet again another proposal to close a school in a predominantly black neighborhood whose enrollment has been primarily African American. Moreover, this will negatively impact the community around Garrett High School. Building a school at North Charleston High School will benefit Park Circle, a neighborhood that is being gentrified.
Second, Garrett is already designated as a county-wide magnet school that focuses on trades. If the district has invested time and money into a trades program, it is unclear why a new trades program would not be housed at Garrett, a school that is a designated trades high school.
The above trades program has proven to be successful in helping students earn jobs and own businesses. For this reason, staff are vested in supporting Garrett Academy of Technology. We must build upon this legacy as opposed to letting it fail.
Third, alumni, parents, students and teachers at Garrett have spoken in favor of building the new CAS at Garrett. However, their voice appears to have been left out of deliberations among board members in board meetings. We believe that listening to the voice of the community is a crucial part of governing schools.
In addition to building the new CAS at Garrett, QEP believes that the board and district should develop a strong academic program to complement a trades program connected to a thriving local economy. The success of Academic Magnet High School has demonstrated that a rigorous academic course of study will attract students.
Lastly, in order to avoid past mistakes, it is important that Garrett Academy of Technology programming is marketed to middle school students and district staff are held accountable to the school board and community leaders as to what processes are in place to build a diverse pipeline of students across race and class lines attending Garrett. We also feel that the choice process should be investigated by a committee to ensure that specific families have enough time and a reasonable process to enroll at the school. A line item budget should also be put in place to fund Garrett along with securing capital improvement dollars to provide appropriate funding for maintenance of Garrett Academy. Finally, we also feel that Garrett Academy should not change or be converted in any way, and that this language is reflected within the new policy voted upon by Charleston County School Board.
Jon Hale and Kendall Deas are Co-Directors on the Quality Education Project
Jesse Williams is Co-Chair of the Quality Education Project’s Political Action Committee