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Blacks In Failing Schools Graduate Without Basic Skills - Why?
8/23/2012 2:24:06 PM

Beverly Gadson-Birch
By Beverly Gadson-Birch

Last Friday a group of concerned citizens and legislative officials (Citizens United for Public Schools) held a Press Conference in front of Charleston County School District Office to protest educational disparities in CCSD which also included the assignment of  Dan Conner as principal of Northwoods Middle School. 


Dan Conner has served as principal of Stall High School and  Garrett Academy of Technology and a school in Iowa and has less than a satisfactory track record at all three.  And just recently Conner was moved from Garrett Academy, previously an “A” school that has fallen to a  “C”,  to Northwoods Middle School that is an “A” school. While the transfer was a very contentious concern, it was not the only concern.  Yet, an article that appeared in Saturday’s edition of the Post and Courier made the assignment of Dan Conner to Northwoods Middle the only concern.


Let’s set the record straight!  Citizens United for Public Schools (CUPS) expressed very serious concerns about the method in which Charleston County School District assigns principals and teachers to schools that have majority black students.  There are black students that have spent their entire school life in failing schools and Superintendent Nancy McGinley and the Board need to be held accountable for this orchestrated and despicable trend.


Students are graduating without even basic survival skills.  They are deficient in Math and Reading—the two most essential subjects for success.  The problem is schools that are failing need principals and teachers with a proven track record of high achievements. 


In the 2012 Federal Accountability Report, CCSD had eight schools with a “D” rating and ten schools with a “F” rating.  


How do we ever expect to move South Carolina forward if we are content with being on the bottom?  Why would the board continue to assign mediocre principals to low achieving or failing schools?  It makes no sense at all not unless there is a move afoot to take minority students back to a time in history when school facilities and education were unequal.


In 1951, a class action suit was filed by the NAACP in Brown Vs. the Board of Education to end segregation in public schools.  Sixty one years later, we find ourselves on the threshold of consciousness grappling with the reality that if we do nothing now about a Board and Superintendent that appears to make unconscious decisions, we are going to lose the next two generations to ignorance.  And for those who don’t think there is anything wrong with providing an above average education for some students and a below education for others, it is just a matter of time that the two shall meet.  You see the uneducated and undereducated will meet you the education on your doorsteps wreaking havoc in your home and community.


          We constantly hear that Johnny can’t read.  Johnny is in high school and reads on a fourth grade level.  Well, given the present statistics and direction that the CCSD Board has taken, there are going to be a whole lot more dysfunctional students turned out into the world. There are a number of reasons why Johnny can’t learn that originate in the home and then when Johnny goes to school he is put in a failing school.  You see nobody cares about Johnny’s plight because when Johnny acts out and gets kicked out of school, the prison system is waiting for him.  Johnny won’t have to worry about a job now, he is in prison. The system will take good care of him. Billions of taxpayers’ dollars are spent each year on prosecuting and incarcerating criminals with very few reformations.  Prisons are big business. That’s why they are springing up all over the place.  If the state doesn’t spend adequate funds on education, they will spend it on prisons.


          The writer for the Post and Courier referred to Friday’s group as “loosely organized”.  That is typical of the type of disrespect Black leaders and even elected officials face when they speak out against injustices. There are those that continue to define who our leaders are in the Black community and undermine the sincere efforts of those that are committed to a quality and comprehensive education for all students regardless of race, creed, national origin or the side of the track they are from.    Just in case the Post and Courier writer is not aware, Black folks are not a bunch of bimbos or “loosely organized”. While you may have a few that are reading on the fourth grade level, there are many who have excelled.  The days of divide and conquer are over.  No one person speaks for all of us.   We are a diverse, multi-talented, multi-educated community who will not be silenced by negative reporting.  CUPS main goal is to ensure that every student has equal access and opportunity for a good education.


          Ironically, an Editorial that appeared in Sunday’s paper on “No Excuse for School District” echoed the same sentiments as CUPS.  So, hats off to the Editor for recognizing that there is a problem with low performing schools that need to be addressed immediately by the school board.


          Berkeley and Dorchester Counties feared off much better than Charleston County. Berkeley County had only one school with a “D” rating and Dorchester County had none.  If they can do it, why can’t Charleston County? One half of Charleston County School District high schools does not meet the state’s standards and is performing substantially below the state’s expectations.  What kind of message are we sending to businesses that are looking to relocate here but most importantly what kind of long term damage have we done to our children?


          I implore parents to demand a better product and more substantive accountability from the School Board.  Parents in case you don’t know, you have a right not to send your children to a failing school. Your child deserves better.


          And to the Board, the errors of your misguided judgments will find you out.

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