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David Mack, Jr: Educating Black Kids Takes More Than Evaluating Teachers
12/18/2013 2:29:36 PM

David Mack, Jr.

By Barney Blakeney

As Charleston County School District officials wrestle with decisions about how to evaluate teachers, one former administrator says the effort to provide a quality education to all its students is more complex.

Controversy is swirling around the district’s Bridge evaluation system. This school year CCSD officials implemented a pilot program as part of Bridge at 14 urban and rural schools where teacher turnover rates are more than 23 percent, double the district’s average teacher turnover rate. Those schools are located in North Charleston and on Yonges Island.

In 2012 the district received a five-year $24 million Teacher Incentive Fund grant from the U.S. Dept. of Education to implement the evaluation program. The district and teacher organizations are conflicted about the evaluation system and its implementation.

Former CCSD administrator David Mack Jr. who served as one of the districts first Black area superintendent’s during the 1970s said evaluations for CCSD teachers is critical, but if the district is to provide a quality education for all students there must be a cultural shift beginning with the administration.

CCSD Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley recently was given a glowing evaluation by county school board members, but Mack said it is McGinley’s leadership not teacher evaluations that will determine how well CCSD students perform academically.

That good teachers are placed at certain schools while less experienced and capable teachers are relegated to predominantly Black schools is no accident, Mack said.

Many CCSD educators are good at what they do. But the politics of the system is the problem, Mack said. Continued racism that promotes the total segregation of some schools and segregation within other schools creates disparities that impedes minority students.

Those disparities are manifested at schools like predominantly Black Burke High where only about 500 students attend the facility built to accommodate 1,100, Mack said. Some students are put in educational environments where its difficult to succeed academically, Mack said.

And though the district’s administration gives indications it wants to offer better opportunities to more students, its failure to engage the community’s human resources which can help it move toward progress shows there’s no real intention to make those opportunities available to all students, Mack said.

Mack says he summarily was dismissed after a meeting with McGinley two years ago during which he sought to discuss his views about CCSD schools. Unbeknown to him, Mack’s son David Mack, III who is a local member of the S.C. House of Representatives was asked to attend that meeting.

“That wasn’t what I wanted to do,” Mack said. “I wanted to talk to her about the schools, but she made it political.”

Prior to a Monday meeting with some teachers in the district about the evaluation system, McGinley issued a statement to clear up some concerns that included salaries, rewards for advanced degrees and termination based on any unsubstantiated data.

“We believe the victory is in the classroom. I am committed to elevating the profession, and honoring and maximizing teachers’ ability to transform students’ lives,” she said in the statement. Mack however, said he remains convinced the administration doesn’t have the goal of providing a quality education to all students. The new initiatives won’t change how minority kids are educated, he said.

“I served in the military, was in combat in Korea, came home to teach at Burke, was an administrator at C.A. Brown and superintendent for Constituent Dist. 20. I saw how integration transformed the military and I thought that integration would transform the civilian community. But I see segregation that still exists in the school system. How do you justify that? I am extremely disappointed in the system,” Mack said.

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