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County School Board: Masters of the Wobble
3/28/2013 1:18:29 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch


  I don’t know who invented the latest dance craze, the Wobble.  Some of y’all youngsters might be able to help me out on that one but the Wobble is one of those dances where you shift from side to side, rock your hips and then you turn around and repeat the hip shaking. It seems we have quite a bit of wobbling going on with the County School Board and they had to back it up.

  At the last meeting, the Board turned around (Wobble) and reversed itself on the decision to move some sixth grade classes from elementary schools to high schools. While the Board wasn’t hip shaking, there was certainly a whole lot of tongue shaking going on.  Even after the vote was taken, the Board warbled another 40 minutes on whether to move six grade classes from elementary to high schools.  They just couldn’t seem to make up their minds whether or not the overall benefits justify the move. Wobble Board wobble! While the Board may have been torn between moving the six graders, parents addressing the Board on this issue were not.  The parents applauded the Board for making the right decision to not place sixth graders on high school campuses.  Was it a good decision to move the children to high schools or keep them at the elementary schools? The jury is still out.  However, wobbling is not good for students or parents and certainly not good for the Board’s reputation.

  In the case of moving sixth graders from Jane Edwards to Baptist Hill, the Board wobbled. And, so was the decision to let the sixth grade remain at Lincoln.  Since they could not fully agree on whether the move was a good one or not, the decision was made giving students the option of transferring to the high school or remaining at the elementary school.   Perhaps, I missed something or did it just roll over my head?  The smart decision would have been to move all or none with the educational benefits being the overriding factor. The district would certainly pay more per pupil to have smaller classes for those students opting to remain. 

  There certainly has been a whole lot of wobbling going on.  LowCountry Tech and the Math Science Charter located on the old Rivers School site, wobble, wobble. The decision to make Malcolm C. Hursey School a full or partial Montessori and move children out of their home school, wobble, wobble. The Board’s rush to judgment on reconfiguring schools and moving students without community input is the basis for much of the wobbling and a new citizens group, Coalition of Citizens for Schools that  Work (CCSW) appeared before the board to put a halt to the wobbling.  The group is made up of neighborhood, community and alumni associations, community foundations, Constituent Board members, civic groups and other interested persons.  Their purpose is threefold:

   • To address common issues and concerns regarding the operation of schools in CCSD

   • To ensure that ALL children in CCSD receive the best education possible and that ALL students have equal and equitable access to a quality education.

   • To collectively address the CCSD Board and administration on common issues and make specific requests regarding individual schools and/or actions which may adversely affect students in their quest to receive the best education possible for their future.

  Staffing rural schools can be a major headache but it can be done.  One way to make those schools work is to place highly effective teachers and principals in low performing schools.  CCSD has a history of placing doing just the opposite. In my opinion (but who asked me), the Board has not done enough to hold teachers and principals feet to the fire.  I can recall North Charleston offering their firemen housing incentives if they live and work in North Charleston.  The assignment of teachers is the responsibility of the Constituent Board or at least that has been one of their responsibilities in the past under the Act of Consolidation.  The decision should not be left up to teachers where they want to go but where they are needed. The passion to teach ALL children coupled with housing incentives to have teachers live in or near the district is a win, win situation.

  If y’all run into any of the school board members, tell them if they wish to eliminate wobbling, listen to stakeholders. It’s the first step in the right direction.  I wish it was that simple for me.  I seem to wobble (shake) more with age.

  Happy Easter y’all and enjoy your Spring Break! 

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