by Chris Haire
I am a horrible, horrible parent. The fucking worst.
I don't make them watch "Your Baby Can Read."
I have never given them probiotics.
I turned their car seats around well before I was supposed to.
I couldn't give two shits about watching Sesame Street.
And I secretly hope that one day they will mistake the bottle of sriracha at the dinner table for ketchup.
Sometimes, I wonder if I secretly hate children, and then I realize that it's not a secret. I do.
But as much as I hate my kids, I don't hate them as much as the Rev. Chris Collins hates the children of Park Circle.
As you know, Collins led the charge against the expansion of the Montessori program at Hursey Elementary in North Charleston. And somehow he was able to convince two other Charleston County School District board members to overlook all the data showing that not only did expanding the program make financial sense but that the parents of Hursey Elementary overwhelming supported a full Montessori program.
Thanks to Collins and others proclaiming to represent the black community in Park Circle, far too many people — black and white — believe that a yes-vote for the Montessori program was a no-vote for the black community. It wasn't.
As City Paper reporter Paul Bowers noted in an early story, black students far outnumber white students in both the Montessori program and the traditional elementary school at Hursey. In fact, the percentages of black students at both were nearly the same, 88 percent for the traditional school and 82 percent for the Montessori program. (For the record, 133 African-American students and 17 white students were enrolled in the traditional school, while the Montessori program had 192 African-American students and 35 white students.)
Now add to that the simple fact that, as Paul reports, a survey of the school's parents found that 144 favored either a full Montessori program or phasing out traditional classes, while 87 parents favored sticking with the current dual-track program, and it becomes more than apparent that a full Montessori program was favored by black parents as well. As a reminder, there are only 52 white students at Hursey.
But that's not what Collins — and many opponents of the Hursey Montessori program — want you to believe. They want this tale to fall into the tried-and-true gentrification narrative, you know the one where white families move into predominately African American neighborhoods and slowly but surely push the black families out.
The funny thing is the Park Circle area is a pretty diverse neighborhood to begin with. Yes, there are pockets where whites outnumber blacks in disproportionate numbers — and vice versa — but by and large, the community is fairly mixed. I know because I live there. And in the spirit of full disclosure, it is my hope that both of my daughters will be able to attend the Montessori program at Hursey.
But when it all comes down to it, I simply can't believe that anyone is looking to Collins for guidance, particularly when it comes to educational matters.
Along with Elizabeth Kandrac and Elizabeth Moffly, Collins was once a part of a trivial triumvirate of terror that routinely voted against the majority out of what was surely spite, all the while they regularly brought school board meetings to a grinding halt with discussions about inconsequential minutiae, I-don't-know-a-goddamn-thing-about-Robert's Rules asshatery, and you-mean-I-was-supposed-to-read-this-report-before-the-meeting idiocy.
For Pete's seek, when Collins ran for mayor of North Charleston, he argued that mounted police officers were the answer to decreasing crime in crime-plagued neighborhoods.
And don't even get me started on Collins' seemingly inability to spell — it's "you" not "U," "African" not "afican" — or his failure to understand what a conflict of interest is and what it isn't. (For the record, it's a conflict of interest for a school board member to vote on a matter that directly affects him — and in Collins' case, as a school board member he voted on a CCSD matter involving a district property that he was renting. And it doesn't matter that he voted to revoke his own lease. He shouldn't have voted in the first place.)
But despite Collins' — and Moffly's — failings, two seemingly well-meaning school board members, Michael Miller and Tom Ducker, joined the dastardly duo in voting against the Hursey Montessori program, sealing the expansion's fate.
In Miller and Ducker's defense, maybe they just haven't been on the school board long enough to know exactly who Collins and Moffly are and what their agenda is. Truth be told, I don't begrudge Miller and Ducker, at least not too much. After all, sometimes I'm not even sure what Collins and Moffly are truly after. I can't decide if they are political opportunists, two-bit hucksters, or a pair ding-batted buffoons who believe the only way to save our public school system is to destroy it. Right now, I'm leaning toward the latter.
Now, where's that bottle of sriracha?