I'm appalled that this community isn't more incensed about the Charleston County School District administration's decision to discontinue the A-Plus Program for middle school students at Burke High and Brentwood Middle schools.
The A-Plus Program was implemented three years ago to address problems at Rivers and Brentwood Middle Schools where the majority of students consistently tested below average and discipline was a forgotten dream. It was supposed to incorporate an enhanced curriculum with extended school hours, including Saturday school and counseling resources for conflict resolution, among other issues. The program never got off the ground.
The Brentwood program started with few hitches, but downtown District 20 parents challenged the Rivers program with intense opposition. Foremost among their complaints was that Rivers students would be moved from their King Street campus to Burke High's campus. Also they didn't want the younger more impressionable students in such close proximity to Burke's notoriously undisciplined older students.
Their opposition was proven justified. The facility housing the transferred students at Burke wasn't ready, and much of the staff wasn't in place. But when they all finally came on board, almost half the teachers who had been given signing bonuses and $10,000 pay increases quit for various reasons including discipline and an ill-prepared program structure. The Saturday school component and many of the extracurricular and tutoring activities were never implemented. From the beginning, the program was criticized for being poorly planned, and it was never given the resources to be successful.
Though suffering from a lack of resources as well, the Brentwood A-Plus program generally was better received.
Now, three years later, Superintendent Nancy McGinley, who urged the administration then headed by Maria Goodloe-Johnson to implement A-Plus, wants to scrap the program, citing its failure to achieve its goals. Well, what tipped you off, Dr. McGinley?
My common sense tells me A-Plus never was supposed to be effective. You can't fail to plan a program, fail to give it necessary resources, and expect it to be successful.
To add insult to injury the McGinley administration is proposing yet another round of programs for District 20 schools. So far they haven't announced what will replace A-Plus at Brentwood, but downtown schools are slated for semi-magnet programs and Burke will get advanced placement courses.
I personally am insulted. Shouldn't high school curriculums already include advanced placement courses? That Burke High doesn't have them is inexcusable and should outrage the parents of students attending the school.
I've always contended Charleston County has never been committed to educating all the county's students, and telling me that the peninsula's only public high school has had no advanced placement courses confirms it.
The scenario at District 20's eight schools, seven of which are rated average or below average by the state education department, is mirrored at most of the county's predominantly black schools.
Over the past 20 years Charleston County School District has had five different superintendents and none have been able to improve our schools. The same schools that were at risk 20 years ago are still at risk. Some blame it on the administrations; others blame it on elected county school board policy makers. I blame both.
It's my belief that school officials, hired and elected, have no commitment to educating all county students. The county's economy is based on hospitality and tourism. You don't need to know calculus to make hotel beds or serve food — keep 'em dumb, keep your workforce.
Many in this community, especially those whose kids attend private schools, have turned a blind eye to the disparities in Charleston County public education. As long as their kids are adequately served, who cares about wasted human potential?