Charleston County School Superintendent & Board: “Clean Up, What You Mess Up and Start Over”

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

Y’all know how these modern day kids are. They play with at least four or five toys at a time and when they are done, they leave them scattered on the floor. My grandson is among those modern day kids with a modern day mom. Notice, I did not say modern day parents because dad doesn’t play that. He is “bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.” So, when I pop in for a visit, I am constantly telling my grandson to “clean up what he messes up.” I have said it so often that he is walking around the house singing the Canton’s Spiritual song, “Clean Up What You Mess Up.” You must catch the horse before he gets out of the barn. I know y’all old schoolers are with me on this one.

I am having the same discussion with some Charleston County School Board members. Whenever I allow myself to believe the district is on the right road, something else pops up that makes me wonder if they are ever going to be able to clean up what they messed up. The irony of the Board’s ruthless deceitful tactics is all the energy spent dividing students ethnically and relegating them to low or high performing schools, depending on race and status, can be better spent implementing best educational practices and providing the best education possible for all students. They have engaged in this separate but unequal practice so long, it’s hard to “clean up their mess.”

Charleston County School District has operated a dual educational system for generations. And, now businesses and corporations are paying a hefty price both in recruitment and training. Industries relocating to SC find themselves going outside of the state to recruit qualified workers because they can’t find enough qualified, skilled workers.

In a recent evaluation of the Superintendent and Board, both received low ratings which did not come as a surprise to me. Several community groups and/or petitions have circulated since Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait came on board in 2015 asking for her resignation. In 2017, an online petition listed numerous grievances, followed by a press conference asking Postlewait to step down. National Action Network (NAN) has repeatedly asked the superintendent to resign citing poor performance. You be the judge! There are eight failing schools in North Charleston and all are majority black. St John’s High School, a majority black high school, is also on the list. So, are y’all telling me there are no failing majority white schools? And, y’all don’t see anything wrong with that picture?

When will the community rise up and ask the Board to step down? We have members that throw bricks behind the scene and hide their hands. They continue to vote basically along their 5-4 majority line. You have members who were elected with “dark money” so they do “dark bidding”. I know y’all didn’t ask me, but when are we going to elect folks to the board that will bring our schools up to standards? I continue to hear that it wasn’t “me.” I wasn’t on the Board when they did “this, that or the other.” Well, you are on the Board now and you engage in divisionary and unscrupulous tactics that perpetuate failing students. There is no such thing as a failing school; there are failing students and the majority are black and brown students. Students who need to be educated the most are most often the ones to receive less than a quality education.

With all the “mess” scattered around the school district, now Buist parents are in an uproar over the Board’s plan to merge with a low performing school. Buist parents are letting the Board know in no uncertain terms they were barking up the wrong tree. Y’all ain’t seen nothing yet, wait on Burke ‘cause they are the real bulldogs and bulldogs don’t take no “mess.”

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