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Karma & Charleston County School Board
4/8/2015 4:37:22 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

Karma is defined by Wikipedia as “the universal principle of cause and effect. Our actions, both good and bad, come back to us in the future.” This pretty much defines the mess Charleston County School Board finds itself embroiled in. It’s payback time. The selection of School Board candidates is generally orchestrated behind closed doors to retain the majority five/four votes on the Board. This control has taken the district in a segregated direction. The Board has a controversial history of creating problematic situations. Magnet schools were created to get around a lawsuit mandating that the district integrate its schools. Buist Academy was the first magnet school created with 60% white students/40% black and other ethnicities to encourage integration at the school.

Integration could have and should have been achieved at every school by raising the educational standards but that did not happen. That was the first misstep of many. The Board orchestrated student transfers across district lines that further segregated schools. The No Child left behind Act, left many minority students in outdated school facilities. The crème de la crème transferred out of low performing schools for better educational opportunities. The hiring and assignment of teachers were once the Constituent Board’s responsibility. By design, the hiring of teachers and principals now fall under the County Board. This move was necessary to handpick and place the higher performing teachers and administrators at predominately white schools. Academic Magnet Program originated on Burke’s campus but was allowed to act independently and become a school because white parents did not want Burke’s name on their children’s diploma.

The “Watermelon Incident” at the Academic Magnet High School and the “N” word at School of the Arts are signs of the time. Children tend to mimic adult behaviors. It’s the atmosphere at these schools that festers negative relationships between students. It’s the lack of diversity among students and staff that the Board continues to dance around that creates a lion share of the problems. The Board could solve many of its problems by making diversity a top priority. Instead, we have a board that shows favoritism to the rich and turns its nose up at the poor.

Recently, two other suits have been added to the district’s collection costing taxpayers thousands of dollars. The district is being sued by a student and teacher who are in the minority at Baptist Hill High School. Baptist Hill is a predominately black high school. The suit is being filed by Attorney Larry Kobrovsky, a former member of the Board, on behalf of a student and teacher alleging racial discrimination and citing the principal’s failure to address the problem.

Now, others see what Black children and administrators go through when placed in similar situations. Historically, integration has been achieved through the sacrifices of black children and administrators breaking down barriers at white schools and colleges. I certainly empathize with the student and teacher but where were the lawyers when the first handful of black students entered Buist and were humiliated and treated differently than the white kids? Where were the lawyers when Buist started with only one black teacher and the district had to draft another black to work there? Where were the lawyers? Some students left Buist Academy and the Academic Magnet because of the isolation. I knew a child that constantly complained of stomach ache so she would not have to go to school to face the “ice brigade”.

Check out all of the “firsts” in history, too numerous to mention, and tell me where were the lawyers when black children were called “nigger”, spat upon, kicked and terrorized by whites because they wanted choices and access to the same quality education—the same education paid for by their parents’ tax dollars. Now, folks allegedly facing reverse discrimination want to be compensated? Where is the justice?

Why weren’t lawyers rushing to defend black children when they have had to endure so much more? At Academic Magnet High School, black students were humiliated by the watermelon incident. On social media, the “N” word was used by a School of the Arts student demeaning black students. Where were the lawyers? I haven’t seen anyone breaking down any doors to come to the defense of black students.

Every child should have the same rights regardless of whether they come from privilege or underprivileged background or whether their name is Bonquisha or Taylor. It’s not who we think we are or where we think we are from that defines who we are; it’s education. Education defines who we are.

As old folks would say, “What goes around comes around”. It’s Karma time!


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