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Magnet, Charter Schools Well-Intended; Negative Impact on Black Children
Published:
3/26/2015 9:45:04 PM


Beverly Gadson-Birch
 
By Beverly Gadson-Birch

After Charleston County School Board meeting on Monday night, I am more convinced than ever before that we need Federal intervention into the district’s operation. The Board has no intention of weighing in on public comment. The Board pulled one of those switch-a-roos on the public by voting to move the renewal of Durham’s Bus Contract to the top of the agenda before public comments. I have been attending these meetings for the past 17 years and have never seen the Board move an action item up on the agenda ahead of the superintendent’s and/or public comments. Todd Garrett made the motion to move the item up after Special Recognitions. Rev. Chris Collins tried to counter Garrett’s motion with a motion to move Durham’s contract renewal up after public’s comments to allow further input from the public, Michael Miller seconded. Garrett’s motion won.

The Board knew persons were lined up to speak against the renewal of Durham Bus contract but they went ahead and approved it anyhow with only one board member voting against it, Rev. Collins. Garrett’s claim to fame is the Durham added 16 new buses to their pool of buses within the last two weeks. Sixteen buses are long overdue but a drop in the bucket. And the complaints coming from the drivers, parents and the union are not just about new buses, it’s also about the lack of transparency and lack of respect for parents and the drivers. It’s Durham’s attitude. I am sure the Board would find it hard to recognize Durham’s attitude problem since they also need an attitude adjustment. Several speakers addressed the Constituent Board’s role regarding student transportation under the Act of Consolidation.

 In 1968, the eight independent school districts were consolidated and the districts were hereinafter referred to as “Constituent Districts” and “retained authority over faculty employment, student assignment and student discipline”. Since that time, the County Board has strong armed Constituent Boards and stripped them of their powers.

Speaking of the Act of Consolidation, In 1981, several students and parents filed a class action lawsuit alleging that the 1967 Act of Consolidation violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In Judge Blatt’s Order, he ruled that “For the reasons stated within, this court has concluded as a matter of fact that the aforesaid Act was passed without discriminatory intent, this court does find that the Act has had a limited discriminatory effect in the operation of the schools in Charleston County. The court further finds as a matter of law that both discriminatory intent and discriminatory effect must be established to prove a Fourteenth Amendment violation. Because the plaintiffs can have no remedy unless the passage of the Act was enacted with discriminatory intent and the Act has a discriminatory effect, and for the other reasons hereinafter stated, the complaint must be dismissed.”

The late Richard Ganaway, et al brought the suit on behalf of all black children in Charleston County and the basis for the lawsuit was “Charleston County School District and the State of SC have failed to dismantle the dual school system in Charleston County.” And of course the district came back with their rebuttal that they have completely dismantled the dual system and that their actions were not “intentionally discriminatory”. Give me a break! When I sprained my foot, it was not intentional but the impact was the same. Check out Lincoln High School in McClellanville District #1 and then take a look at Wando High School in Mt. Pleasant School District #2.

The intent is clear and the effect is incomprehensible and irreparable. Twenty-six years after Hurricane Hugo, children are still attending Lincoln High School with all kinds of unknown contaminants that washed up out of the ocean. White parents refuse to send their children to the school. If the school is not good enough for white students, then it’s not good enough for black students. The discriminatory intent is the school would have been torn down if it was majority white and rendered unfit and a new school built on another site. The full effect of leaving students in Lincoln High School is yet to be determined. There is always the health impact from mole spores and educational deprivation due to low enrollment.

To all of the naysayers who think that I am hallucinating, look at the turn-over of principals at majority black schools and then take a look at longevity of staff at majority white schools. At one point, North Charleston High School had at least 8 different principals in 10 years. Since 2009, Sanders Clyde has had four or five principals. And, folks wonder why minority children are behind the learning curve.

Let’s not forget Lowcountry Tech Academy was dissected and then made into a program instead of a school on the Rivers campus. Lowcountry Tech students have to access the school through a rear entrance while Math Science students have front door access. The Board continues to fight to dismantle a very successful program because Math Science Charter wants the entire campus. It doesn’t matter that Lowcountry Tech is not a “black” school. While the plan to establish a county wide high tech school on the peninsular may have originated within the black community, it never was intended to be a “black” school. The Board is responsible for the rift between Math Science Charter and Lowcountry Tech. If truth be told, Lowcountry Tech has exceeded expectations. High tech is the wave of the future and high tech companies are looking at Lowcountry Tech students for employment that pays top dollars. Y’all run and tell that.

What about the assignment of staff? Take a look at the breakdown of teachers and administrators at each of the majority white schools and then compare it with majority black schools.

In other words under the 1981 lawsuit, Plaintiffs must prove a discriminatory cause and effect as a result of the discrimination. Is Judge Blatt still around? If not, would someone please tell the sitting Judge not only can we now prove discriminatory intent, we can prove the effect the Board’s actions have had upon children of color. All you have to do is look at the numbers. Check out the statistics on Magnet and Charter Schools and how they have been put into place to tip toe around full integration and why the “No Child Left Behind Act” has left many minority children behind.

Are y’all listening?
 

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