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From Slavery to Solutions
1/28/2015 5:18:37 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

Charleston County School Board ended a stand-off between mostly black parents that favored a dual program--traditional and Montessori--and mostly white parents that favored a full Montessori school for Murray LaSaine Elementary School on James Island.

If the Board’s goal is to achieve diversity at the school, they certainly nailed the coffin shut Monday night with their divisive decision to make the school full Montessori. The Board’s decision did not come as a surprise.

It’s the second such divisive decision in restructuring schools to accommodate white residents moving into the district claiming they want diversity and options for their children. What about options for black children currently residing in the district?

Montessori education will either be forced upon black children in the Murray LaSaine’s attendance area or children will have to travel to other locations to receive a traditional education.

Hursey’s parents are still trying to come to terms with the board’s decision that forced their children out of their neighborhood school to accommodate mostly white parents moving into the area demanding a full Montessori school at the Hursey site.

Board members arguing against making Murray LaSaine a full Montessori School were Rev. Chris Collins, Tom Ducker and Michael Miller.

The key to a successful community is education. Charleston County School Board is not only setting a bad example with their divisive decisions but driving a wedge between parents. The sad part about it is they don’t seem to care.

There are several lawsuits pending against the district because of their failure to properly integrate and pull back from proven educational practices to achieve integration. What did educators have in mind when they speak of choice?

Black parents’ voices are falling on deaf ears when it comes to what they want for their children. They are forced to accept what is dished out to them.

Why is it so difficult for the board to understand that all children matter—not just white children, not just Mr. & Mrs. Attorney’s children, Not just Mt. Pleasant’s rich and famous, not just those that live in gated or rated communities, all children.

I am reminded of a question from a white parent some decades ago when my son was in a predominately black elementary school. The parent wanted to know why are you fighting so hard for “these” students; your son is smart. My response was, “I want the same thing for “these” students that you want for yours. And until that happens, I will continue to fight for equity in education.

Discrimination against children is mean and in its worst form restrictive. It limits opportunities and sets boundaries making it almost impossible for minority students to reach their greatest potentials.

Education enlightens; it opens doors and creates opportunities. Everyone is who they are because of education. No one is born into this world knowing everything. A baby learns to crawl before it walks and walks before it runs. It’s a developmental process.

The same steps must be taken when integrating communities and diversifying schools. It can happen but folks must be committed to the process.

Education is neither white nor black; it’s facts. Every student in Charleston County School District deserves equal access to options.

If a child is forced out of his neighborhood school to accommodate a newcomer, he lost his option to the newcomer.

White parents who once thought Bonds Wilson campus was off limit for their children because the entrance was “undesirable” now send their children to the Academic Magnet on that campus through a more “desirable” entrance. The same campus that once housed black students now house white students.

Yet, the racial make-up is appalling. Academic Magnet has over six hundred students and only 15 are black.

The Old Wallace Consolidated High School gave way to Ashley River Creative Arts School. Newly renovated Burke High School built for more than 1,200 students has less than 300 students because white parents refuse to send their children to a predominately black school.

The Academic Magnet got its start on the Burke campus as a program. The Academic Magnet parents did not want any part of Burke High School to the extent of not wanting the school’s name on their children’s diploma.

Instead of the Board ensuring that the Academic Magnet was more inclusive of all students, they have allowed the school to maintain their exclusive status at taxpayers’ expense.

Math Science Charter located downtown in the old Rivers’ School Building was another missed opportunity for CCSD to achieve integration at Burke.

If the district was serious about integrating schools and providing a quality education for all students, they could have at Burke thus eliminating the need for a second high school on the peninsular that would draw students away from Burke.

Someone needs to take the Board to court for aiding and abetting in overt, covert discriminatory practices in the way students are educated.

Charleston County is more diverse now than ever before due to the migration of northerners retiring to the area, large corporations moving to the area and Charleston’s designation as the #1 tourist spot to visit. Yet we find ourselves still struggling to move pass slavery to solutions.

The Murray LaSaine vote is a clear indicator of more of the same ole, same ole. If not now, when? When are parents going to rise up and say enough is enough? Every child matters! Every parent matters!

Ain’t nobody gonna turn me ‘round, turn me ‘round, gonna march on to ‘Freedom Land. Are y’all listening?

Visitor Comments

Submitted By: Darlena Submitted: 4/19/2015
This document is absolutely an unfair bias... it is not this way at all. It is not an 'us' and 'them' thing...and it is definitely not a black and white thing. It is a 'change' thing.

Submitted By: Darlena Submitted: 4/19/2015
This document is absolutely an unfair bias... it is not this way at all. It is not an 'us' and 'them' thing...and it is definitely not a black and white thing. It is a 'change' thing.

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