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CCSD Creating Division At Hursey School
2/4/2013 11:53:26 AM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

    The Charleston County School Board has quite a few initiatives up their sleeves and many of those initiatives are not in the best interest of poor and minority students.  Monday night’s Board meeting got off to a late start but that did not deter those in attendance.  Parents and community persons had come to voice their concerns over the future designation of the school.  The parents waited patiently in anticipation of the Board’s decision on whether or not Malcolm C. Hursey would remain a dual track school—Montessori and traditional or a full Montessori School.  The process of transforming Hursey into a full Montessori School without first receiving input from those affected smacked of disparity in education. Most folks who know anything about the Montessori concept are not opposed to the methodology but the method in which the Board went about forcing the concept on neighborhood students.  Why should parents and students of traditional education be forced out of their neighborhood school to make way for Montessori students and parents? 


     Hursey School is presently a dual track school.  Parents have the option of enrolling their children in either the traditional or Montessori track.  Montessori education is not a good fit for every student. By allowing both programs, the school is able to serve a more diverse population.  It’s a win, win situation for the district. 


     After much discussion, Board member Todd Garrett moved to approve the district’s recommendation to phase out the traditional education allowing the youngest grade to graduate out and phase in the Montessori students until the entire school becomes Montessori.  The motion was seconded by Fraser but failed on a 4 to 4 vote. Voting in favor of a full Montessori at Hursey were Chris Fraser, John Barter, Todd Garrett and Cindy Bohn Coats. Voting against the motion were Rev. Chris Collins, Michael Miller, Elizabeth Moffly and Tom Ducker.  Board member Craig Ascue was absent.  It is time to call those board members out who continue to drive a wedge between parents and deny equal educational access and opportunities for minority students. 


     What is so alarming about the Board’s deliberation is members who voted to allow the full Montessori School at Hursey agonized over 62 students presently on a waiting list to enroll in the Montessori program at Hursey but gave little thought to those students who  presently live in the Hursey attendance area.  Students living in the Hursey attendance zone who are not yet school age will be denied access to a more traditional education at their neighborhood school and will have to be transported to other area schools.  So, tell me this!  The Board has money to provide transportation but they don’t have money to provide both programs at the Hursey site?  That’s a bunch of hogwash!  You never ever hear the Board speak of money until they have to make a decision that impacts black parents favorably.  Then, there is no money.  There was no money when they voted to give the Math Science School 60% of the Rivers campus but they had no trouble allocating millions of dollars to the project. The Board made all kinds of financial commitments and exceptions for the Math Science Charter that was not afforded any other charter school in the district.  They are spending almost $50 million dollars on a high tech school for Mt. Pleasant.   So, don’t buy into that nonsense about the district not being able to support both programs at Hursey.  The two programs are presently operating on the campus.


     Over three hundred parents attended the information gathering meeting at Hursey and the numbers were almost the same pro and con.  Rev. Collins called for the meeting to hear from parents and stakeholders regarding what they wanted to see happen at their school.  Discussions have been ongoing for quite some time regarding the transformation of not only Malcolm C. Hursey but James Simons and Murray LaSaine Schools into full Montessori Schools.  The Board is also considering closing some schools and merging others.  Why waste folks’ time if you have no intention of using the information gathered? The community meeting was held after the fact.  Parents should have been in on the ground floor of major changes or decisions that may have long range or devastating impact upon their children.


     Perhaps I just don’t get it!  Why are assignments of poor and minority students treated differently than students in more affluent families?  Every student in CCSD should be afforded equal opportunities and choices for a more excellent education.  Parents, regardless of their station in life, want the best education possible for their children. 


    Y’all better wake up if you care about your children.  There is more of the same coming down the pipeline.  “Wake up parents, no more sleeping in bed.”  Y’all have to be more proactive instead.



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