By Beverly Gadson-Birch
The Charleston County School Board just can’t get their act together. One reason being is the Clemson Study clearly pointed out—in house bickering by board members. The reason for the bickering is some members are holding forums with stakeholders and gathering information to change the direction of education in Charleston County Schools. And, some folks don’t like that! The Board’s five-four majority vote has been a stronghold and deciding factor in preventing quality education at all levels.
I don’t know too much about chicken farms, but I do know from visiting my grandmother’s house in rural Colleton County that the rooster is in charge. On many occasions, I sat and watched a big red rooster strut around granny’s hen house and if another rooster tried to slip into the hen house, a fight ensued. So, with Hollinshead’s presence on the Board, another rooster is in the house.
In a recent letter to fellow school board members, Rev. Eric Mack, Board chair, cautioned them about holding unofficial community meetings. Although, Rev. Mack’s letter stopped short of specifically targeting a member or members, it is quite clear that his comments were directed toward Kevin Hollinshead. Hollinshead has been very vocal in favor of parity, transparency and inclusion for all students.
Last week, on the same evening Hollinshead was meeting with Buist parents and other stakeholders regarding their school’s merger concerns, Rev. Mack and Kate Darby, former school board chair, were engaging in a forum of their own at the behest of the Charleston Chapter of the NAACP. So, is this a case of the “pot calling the kettle black”? Only y’all old schoolers can understand my idiom expression. It simply means “criticizing someone for the same problem that you are guilty of; or, being hypocritical.”
Rev. Mack wrote, “Rogue statements and unofficial community meetings, not hosted by the district, are counterproductive to what we’re trying to accomplish. I am asking you to stand united with your fellow board members who are all working toward the same common goal – which is to provide an equitable education for our children.” Did he say, “Rogue, counterproductive and common goal”? Put a pin right there!
Rogue is a strong and divisive term if you are trying to bring about unity on the board. It could only gather more traction for division and future “unofficial” meetings. I rather run alone than run with the pack if their commitments and convictions are in opposition to my values and belief.
Counterproductive – What can be more counterproductive than scheming and plotting for over 50 years not to educate all students equitably in Charleston County Schools? Why has the Board uprooted minority students from their neighborhood schools? The long-range planning in newly constructed neighborhoods is to build self-sufficient communities. Self-contained communities reduce traffic on major roads, save residents gas, and cut down on unnecessary trips outside of the community. The same holds true for education. New schools are being built alongside new communities, limiting bus travels, drivers and reducing costs. So, who is being what? Did the good Reverend say, “counterproductive”? If developers can gather information for designing communities, surely board members can gather information from stakeholders for designing the best education possible for children and keeping them close to home in good neighborhood schools. This has not been the case; and, this is where the Board has failed in the past. They have not listened and responded to parents and community concerns.
Common Goal – The definition of “Common Goal” is “total integration of all schools by the Board and Administration” within one year–no more procrastination!! It’s the Board coming together for a single purpose and that is to provide the best education possible for all students, whether they be black, white, Japtalian, polka-dot, poor, wealthy, homeless or clueless. Race doesn’t matter. How much money you make doesn’t matter. Where you live doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, what matters is parity and a quality education for all students. The world doesn’t run on color; it runs on power.
Clemson University clearly defined CCSD’s problem as “racism”. “Rogue” Board members that specialize in destroying children’s education and dreams, shame on YOU!! You are the ones that are or have been counterproductive. And, the reason why “common goal” appears insurmountable, is common goal requires “common sense”.