Archives for category: South Carolina

I was happy to discover this post on the Network for Public Education, which is curated by teacher-blogger Peter Greene. It was written by South Carolina teacher Steve Nuzum.

A South Carolina think tank has issued a “report” that connects every organization in sight to an indoctrination conspiracy in the state. It would be easier to dismiss if the head of the think tank weren’t the state’s newly elected superintendent of education. Teacher Steve Nuzum looks into the work.

This week, incoming Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver’s “think tank” dropped a crazy “dossier”. Or sometimes it’s “a report”— one without citations for most of its central and most outrageous claims. And sometimes it’s a “handbook”— one without much in the way of advice, except some version of support us and be mad at those teacher unions in NC and VA).

The document, and especially its accompanying graphics, are breathtakingly stupid. Aligning yourself with Aristotle on education policy— a philosopher who, on the one hand, explicitly called for public funding of education1 and, on the other hand, believed some human beings are physically and mentally designed to be slaves2— is quite a look for a pro-voucher think tank that doesn’t want people to think about “segregation academies” every time they hear “school choice”. Openly labeling “progressives” as “villains” is another. This thing was clearly cobbled together hastily by political hacks masquerading as scholars, in the vein of the 1776 Commission Report from the Trump Administration, and they clearly thought lots of colors and graphics would keep us dumb South Carolinians from thinking too hard about any of it.

Even a quick gloss over the “dossier” reveals claims that are unfounded and contrary to the general argument (privatization is good; Leftist woke indoctrinator teachers are “villains”). For example, the report claims that grassroots teacher advocacy group SC for Ed (I’m a board member) was primarily founded to oppose “schools of innovation” legislation. This seems to be a garbled reference to SC for Ed’s opposition to the education omnibus bill H. 3759, a legislative beast with a few good ideas glued to a lot of bad, often ALEC-drafted ideas. There is no citation provided, of course, because it isn’t true— I was there at the rally the “dossier” mentions, which was centered around many educational issues, and I was also there as a member of the group when the bill was just a twinkle in Jay Lucas’ eye. The omnibus bill, thankfully, did not pass, and the “schools of innovation” legislation that did pass, although not supported by SC for Ed, was certainly not some kind of major motivating factor for starting the group. The “dossier” goes on to use the “public-private partnership” Meeting Street Schools as its sole example of why the “schools of innovation” legislation was a good move. This is a weird rhetorical move during a week when, on “almost every criterion, Meeting Street Schools fell below both district and state performance,” according to Nick Reagan of WCSC.

But the thing is, it doesn’t need to make sense.

Read the full post here for more details.

You can view the post at this link : https://networkforpubliceducation.org/blog-content/steve-nuzum-palmetto-promises-conspiracy-corkboard/

Mercedes Schneider describes the arbitrary and capricious actions of the Berkeley School Board in South Carolina. “Moms for Liberty” won control of the board in the recent election. At its first meeting, it fired the superintendent and the board’s attorney and immediately replaced them.

I posted a report previously about this extremist takeover, written by Paul Bowers, a journalist in South Carolina who attended the tumultuous meeting.

She points out that the superintendent had been rated “proficient” unanimously by the previous board only a month earlier.

Read her post and see how little respect these M4L people have for democratic and legal norms.

Schneider concludes, let the litigation begin!

Paul Bowers writes about what happened when a slate of extremists took control of a local school board in South Carolina. He described their actions as “vandalism.”

He begins:

A hard-right faction took control of the 4th-largest school district in South Carolina last night and immediately got to work smashing anything that wasn’t nailed to the floor.

On the same night they were sworn in to the Berkeley County School Board, a slate of candidates backed by Moms for Liberty and the local Republican Party fired the district’s first Black superintendent, fired the district legal counsel, voted to cut property taxes, approved a ban on “critical race theory” in the classroom, and set up a panel to begin reviewing and banning books containing sexual content that they deem inappropriate.

I was there when it happened, part of an overflow crowd of community members who told the board what they were doing was shameful. We might as well have delivered our little speeches to a brick wall. What we witnessed last night was more like vandalism than leadership.

I live-tweeted the meeting last night if you want to take a closer look. Because this newsletter has a national(-ish) audience, I wanted to share some broad observations that might be helpful as conservatives put all of our schools in their crosshairs.

They came prepared

The temptation is to think of our political opponents as stupid or insane. They might in fact be both, but we can’t think strategically about defeating them without assuming a base level of cunning on their part.

The Berkeley County Republican Party is a well-oiled machine. From the moment the newly elected conservative super-majority members took their seats in the boardroom last night, it was obvious they had a plan and they were sticking to it.

The new members didn’t deliver any flashy soundbites. They hardly discussed their policy proposals at all, aside from a running narrative by their newly installed board chair, Mac McQuillin. McQuilin is one of the longer-serving board members and knows Robert’s Rules of Order. He knew when to call a vote, and his allies on the board dutifully cast their votes in a 6-member bloc. On a 9-member board, they didn’t need to bother with persuading the other side.

This is called party discipline, and Democrats are terrible at it. Progressive activists and politicians could learn a thing or two about tactics here.

They take cues from the national level

Two rallying cries of conservative activists in this country right now are banning uncomfortable discussions of history under the guise of “critical race theory” and forbidding students from learning about the existence of trans people. The messaging is clear and consistent from Tucker Carlson’s mouth to your racist cousin’s ears.

Unlike with Statehouse-level legislation, where watchdog groups like ALEC Exposed track the spread of “model legislation” from the American Legislative Exchange Council, we don’t have a robust way of tracking the spread of billionaires’ pet projects at the level of local school boards (Or maybe we do! Let me know if you have a good resource).

Read enough local news and you start to see the patterns, though. Conservative county council and school board members have no qualms about copying and pasting policies from each other.

Earlier this month in South Carolina, the Horry County School Board set aside a “restricted access” section of school libraries where students can’t read books without parental permission. Book bans and “library consideration policies” were on the agenda in Lexington 3 and Beaufort County school districts this week too, borrowing ideas from Florida’s latest book ban laws.

Following the template, Berkeley County’s school board voted last night to approve a similar book-banning regime, effectively overriding policies that were written by the district’s own school librarians last year.

Please open the link and keep reading.

South Carolina elected private choice advocate Ellen Weaver as state superintendent. She defeated a full-time teacher, Lisa Ellis.

Republican Ellen Weaver, one of the state’s foremost champions of private school choice, has been elected South Carolina’s next superintendent of education.

A non-educator who has spent her career working in Republican politics and leading a conservative think tank, Weaver defeated Democrat Lisa Ellis, a veteran teacher and founder of grassroots teachers group SC for Ed, by nearly 13 points, according to unofficial election results.

South Carolina voters seem determined to undermine their low-performing public schools and allow students to go to any religious or private school that will take them, at public expense.

Voucher researcher Josh Cowen of Michigan State University says, after 20 years of studying them, that they set children back academically and that learning loss for vulnerable children at voucher schools is greater than the loss caused by the pandemic.

Paul Bowers is a journalist in South Carolina who blogs at “Brutal South.” This post is a story of a young person who realized he was transgender. He wrote an essay about his discovery that was published in Scholastic magazine. Two years later, a substitute gym teacher in South Carolina handed out the essay for his class to read. This act created a major scandal, and before long, the governor of the state got involved and demanded censorship of the essay. Bowers interviewed the author of the essay for this post.

Politicians have tried to whip up the issue of transgender youth as a menace to society. The most current survey suggests that about 1.4% of youth 13-17 identify as transgender. About 0.05% (half of one percent) of adults identify as transgender. These numbers have remained stable over time.

Bowers writes:

At the start of 7th grade, Leo Lipson emailed his teachers letting them know about a change in his pronouns.

Writing about his experience growing up transgender in New York, Leo had this to say:

When I asked my teachers for help, they told me I needed to teach my classmates about gender. I thought, “Aren’t you supposed to be the teacher?” I guess they saw gender as my thing, something they couldn’t explain.

Leo’s essay, “I Am Leo,” ran in the December 2019 / January 2020 issue of Scholastic’s Choices magazine, a classroom publication for grades 7-12. It was a fine personal essay that broke down a complicated subject in simple terms.

As far as I can tell, Leo’s article didn’t make many waves until Sept. 9, 2022, when a substitute physical education teacher at a public middle school on James Island, South Carolina, handed out copies of the article to a class (it might have been the entire magazine issue; I’m not certain based on local news reports). The teacher also handed out a worksheet of questions testing students’ basic comprehension. It was an ungraded assignment.

Eleven days later, the assignment earned an official rebuke and press release from the Republican governor of South Carolina.

“I call on [Charleston County School District]’s Board of Trustees to take action immediately to prohibit these types of instructional materials from being distributed or utilized in the classroom without parents’ knowledge and consent,” Gov. Henry McMaster wrote in an open letter to the school board chair on Sept. 20.

Here we had the highest elected official in South Carolina nitpicking a single assignment handed out by a substitute gym teacher. The governor demanded censorship, and he got it: Leaning on South Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ+ sex education policies, a school district spokesperson said in a prepared statement, “District staff regrets that this matter occurred, and leaders are working to ensure all staff is reminded of parents’ opportunity to opt their children out prior to sensitive materials being shared with students.”

Now the issue is a big deal in the state. Parents are being frightened into thinking that the schools are trying to turn their children transgender. Republicans are busy scaring parents and passing laws to make sure that students never learn that transgender people exist.

To be effective, they will have to monitor their television watching and take away their cell phones. If knowing about the existence of transgender people turned people transgender, there would be many more than half a percent to 1.4%.

Open Blowers’ post to read his interview with Leo, who is now 19.

Sit down and prepare for a long but very important read. You might conclude that the elected officials of South Carolina–Governor Henry McMasters, Senator Lindsay Graham, Senator Tim Scott, and the State Legislature–don’t give a damn about the children of South Carolina. You might be right.

Seven years ago, Arnold Hillman and his wife Carol retired as educators in Pennsylvania and moved to South Carolina. Instead of taking up golf, they became deeply involved in helping high school students in impoverished schools. Having served as volunteers in the schools, Arnold Hillman quickly realized that South Carolina ignores the needs of its children. There is no real system, he says. Charter schools have been a distraction, not a solution. He concludes that the schools of South Carolina need radical change. What are the chances of a deep Red state acting on his proposals? Sadly, not great. South Carolina has a well established record of tolerating neglect of its children, especially those who are impoverished and Black.

Arnold Hillman can be reached at arnold@scorsweb.org

Arnold Hillman writes:

THE NEED FOR RADICALIZATION IN EDUCATION

It’s time for us to look seriously at completely redoing the education system in South Carolina. As Senator Greg Hembree, Chair of the Senate Education Committee of the South Carolina Assembly told Barnett Berry, “ It is time to stop nibbling around the edges of school reform and the teaching profession.”1

No truer words have been spoken about our present education system. In fact, there really is no system. In the long scheme of things, our present way of doing education is a bunch of pile-ons from the original manufacturing design of Frederick Taylor and his scientific management. 

While Taylor was creating the assembly line process, Ford was dehumanizing it by considering people as cogs in a great machine. If you don’t see any relationship between these two mammoth names in our economic history, go to your local high school and watch when the bells ring and students change classes.

More specifically, South Carolina ranks low on education state rankings that use multiple variables. They are variously ranked from 40thin the nation to 49th. Education Week gives South Carolina a C- for education quality.2 While the Annie Casey Foundation grades education as 43rd in the nation.3

Each year the legislature and the administration in South Carolina claim that we have a new program that will increase test scores and general education standards. According to the numbers, that just is not so. We may introduce the newest panaceas and claim that they will create higher state, federal and NAEP scores, but that does not usually happen.

This is not a single person’s opinion. In this article in the State Newspaper of August 5, 2022, it declares that “ SC has among worst school systems in US, new ranking shows. Here’s why and what’s being done.”

Read more at: https://www.thestate.com/news/state/south-carolina/article264174836.html#storylink=cpy

The problems will continue. The same people will present small ideas that will hold forth for a while. Then these ideas and programs will fade into the distance and new people with other small ideas will approach these problems and fail once more. Take a gander at the history of education in South Carolina over the past 50 or so years.

If what you see in our history disturbs you, then you are on the correct path to starting over again and creating a new way of teaching our children.

WHERE DO WE BEGIN ?

Minnesota passed the first Charter School law in 1991. It was followed by Massachusetts in 1993. The basic tenets of the laws were that these were going to be public schools, with independent management. They were also less restricted by state law and could become examples of innovation.5

Public schools would then have a chance to look at these innovations and use them in the regular public schools. That is not what happened. Charter schools became independent entities, sometimes managed by profit making organizations. Their history of innovation is slim. Furthermore, since they were able to disregard state law in many instances, while regular public schools could not copy any of the alleged innovations.

Here was a panacea that really had no possible way of succeeding for the overwhelming majority of public school children. Once again, here was an idea that would propel education into the 21st century and improve education for our children. It did not work that way.

As almost all of these panaceas fell by the wayside. It is evident that none of them had any chances of succeeding. The ideas that created these programs never seemed to begin with the children. They were always ideas that were promulgated to somehow enter the system and make things right. Few, if any of them, began with the needs of the children.

In any radicalization of education, students need to come first. All other things are just trimmings that come after. What is evident from all of these efforts to improve public education, is that they have no basis in children’s needs. Whether you agree with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or its revision or not, children have absolute needs when they are in school.5

Proof of these needs has been highlighted recently when mass school shootings have created social and emotional disturbances among children. These children need to feel safe.

We can list children’s needs from pre-school to 12th grade. They will all be familiar to you.

Safe and Stable environment

Proper nutrition

Structure

Sense of belonging

Consistency

Health Care

Emotional Support

Education

There are many more items that could be added to the list. The author has chosen these because of consistent information about South Carolina’s children that appears in public journals and media. Here are some statistics.

One in six (or 178,710) children in South Carolina are food insecure — numbers that are growing due to the pandemic-induced unemployment.

• Over 12,000 students experienced homelessness in 2017-19, and another unidentified 34,000 were estimated to be without a home.

• Over 40 percent of South Carolinians live in childcare deserts — a term used to describe a Census tract of more than 50 children under the age of five where there are no childcare providers.

• In 2019, about 10 percent of the 15,000 children referred to the Department of Juvenile Justice were for status offenses (truancy, curfew violation, etc.) reflecting underlying personal, family, or community problems, not criminal ones.

The simple truth is that many children in our state have few of the basic needs outlined above. This is not just a problem of poor and minority communities. 6

A kindergarten assessment at the beginning of the 2020- 21 school year was modified because of the pandemic. However, the results published by the Westend Corporation, the creator of the assessment, found these numbers statewide:

33% of the 48,000 of the kindergartners tested at the beginning of the year had an Emerging Readiness. This means that they will need significant help to reach readiness.

40% of the children were classified as approaching readiness and would need some kind of intervention.

27% of the children are actually demonstrating readiness.7

During the early days of the pandemic there were contrary opinions about wearing masks and getting vaccinations. Even today cases of Covid variants are spiking in a number of counties in the state, according to the DHEC. The situation is confusing. There is an elected Superintendent of Education who had differing views from those of the administration.

This confusion made life difficult for local decision makers. Who does one listen to, the Governor, the Superintendent of Education or the Department of Health and Environmental Control? Consequently, there was little consistency across the state.

Leadership at the local level became a problem when 32 of the 78 school superintendents turned over from March of 2020 to June of 2022. That is 41%.8 This lack of consistency has propelled many school districts into micro-management by school boards. These kinds of happenings are never a positive event for the children.

If South Carolina has a system of education, it is not apparent. The funding mechanisms for school districts relies on many layers of bureaucratic meddling. As in most states in the union, school districts are governed by local school boards. At the upper levels of the state government, the Governor, or an appointed official, such as a Chief State School Officer actually operates the system.

Leadership at the local level became a problem when 32 of the 78 school superintendents turned over from March of 2020 to June of 2022. That is 41%.8 This lack of consistency has propelled many school districts into micro-management by school boards. These kinds of happenings are never a positive event for the children.If South Carolina has a system of education, it is not apparent. The funding mechanisms for school districts relies on many layers of bureaucratic meddling. As in most states in the union, school districts are governed by local school boards. At the upper levels of the state government, the Governor, or an appointed official, such as a Chief State School Officer actually operates the system.

South Carolina is one of 12 states that elects its chief state school officer. There are pros and cons to this system. In some cases, it can stimulate cooperative action, while in others it stimulates conflict.In South Carolina, there are a number of bureaucratic layers to school governance. At the local level, there are school boards, superintendents of schools, county councils, and something called a legislative committee whose power is ill defined. It is composed of both state senators and state house members. There is also the Education Oversight Committee (EOC). This is the legislators’ way of keeping on eye on education and how it is performing across the state.

                 SO WHAT IS THE CONCLUSION ?

Underneath the edujargon and the political palaver, most folks know that education is not doing well in South Carolina. We will not delveinto higher education. This is a concluding thought from many people. 

Now, who do you blame? We blame everyone and no one. Many good hearted people of all political stripes have tried to fix things. They have not succeeded. The Covid-19 pandemic has pointed out that our system cannot deal with the realities of our current world. We have left our children to the devices of companies who are producing online products. We have left our teachers out there in the universe of online education with no tools at their disposal. They have tried mightily to do their job. It was mostly a futile attempt.

staff reports  |  Results from end-of-year examination scores revealed that South Carolina students are struggling in U.S. history, algebra and biology. More than a third of high school students failed algebra last year and 24% got a “D.” They scored even worse in history and biology with a mean of 65% and 66%, respectively.The culprit: Pandemic-related learning loss, education officials suspect.

State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said more work needed to be done to help students recover: “Preparing students to meet college and career-readiness standards must not just be an aspiration in our state,” she said, according to published reports. “It’s a responsibility that all of us must play a role in as we pursue meaningful solutions.16

As we get back to in-person education, the children have been besieged with social and emotional problems. Teachers are not able to handle such things by themselves. It is a gross miscalculation that all children are getting the help that they need. In fact, when they do get help, who is it that provides it ?

We are even further behind than we were in March of 2020. Yet, some school districts still seem to shine. In larger school districts, with many schools, there still seem to be those whodo well. They are singularly in the minority. How can we compare a school district with a median household income of $101,284 with one whose income is $26,074?9

Think of the resources that wealthy parents can provide for their child, compared to a child whose parents are just getting by and have no resources for their child, except for love.

O.K. RADICALS, WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT IT?

We begin with the children and the things that they need. We can look at the above-mentioned items as a beginning. As was said, there are many more things that children need. As they mature through the school and life experiences, their needs change. Do we know enough Piaget to list the things that the children need at particular ages. Notice, I did not say grades. As a noted educator and speaker Sam Clemens once said, “ How do you handle a kindergartner who comes into school carrying a New York Times when you also have a little one who walks in and needs to learn his alphabet?

It all begins at birth, or maybe even before. Without proper health care for expectant moms, the chances of a child having a normal entrance into this world is diminished. South Carolina’s infant mortality rate of 6.5% per 1000 live births is higher than the national average of 5.4% per 1000 live births. Pre-natal medical care is most lacking in rural areas of the state. 

How does one prevent this kind of statistic? There are a number of ways, if the state is of a mind. One way is a massive public campaign aimed at areas with few physicians and few clinics. The need for medical facilities in these places should become a state priority. 

A second, and more accelerated way is for consortia of school districts, local municipalities and hospitals to purchase medical vans. These vans have been in use in many rural and urban areas in the United States. The van could be under the jurisdiction of one of these entities for financial responsibility. The driver would be a staff member of one of these entities. 

Medical personnel could be secured with volunteers, dentists, school psychologists, doctors, nurses, PAs and others. The vans could advertise when they would be in a certain area. Pre-natal exams could be a major function, while children from 0-4 could also be seen by some of these specialists. 

A third method of securing health care for pre and post-natal care is an outreach program that is run by a local school district. The Appleton, Wisconsin School District has created a birth through five program that focuses on entire community resources to help parents in the community.

85% of the foundation for a child’s intellect, personality and skills is formed by age 5. Appleton Area School District’s Birth-Five Outreach offers an inclusive network of family care services, school information, and community support.Birth–Five Outreach builds positive relationships with families by offering connections to many school and community resources early on.11

A fourth possible method is to establish a 0-5 school building, or community building that will have all of the services needed by families with children from 0-5 and pre-natal care. In the early 1980’s such a school was created by the Titusville School District in Northwestern Pennsylvania. 

All of these suggestions are now in effect in the United States of America, but not in South Carolina. These programs are not only helpful to the individual parent and child, but to the community and to the schools that these children will go to.

        SO NOW THEY WALK INTO SCHOOL, OR DO THEY?

If we are going to deal with children where they are at, can we still use the old fashioned age requirement for kindergarten. Not only don’t we want to do that, but maybe we don’t even call the first year of school by that old name. There are things attached to the word, that it may be necessary to use some other word or some other description.

So many of the children that walk through those school doors are at variance with what we consider “ready to learn.” The differences between the children is immense. So what do we do? Here are some programs that could exist in a public school, a vocational school or a technical college.

A. Pre and postnatal care

B. Teenage pregnancy

C. Day Care for community members orschool staff

D. Day Care to programming 0-5

E. On site medical care

F. Training for students to learn day care skills

G. Special education programs for children with disabilities

H. Eldercare

I. Job Placement

J. Home for state reps and congress people

K. Psychological services

There are many definitions of what a school or series of schools might be. The origin of the term, “Community School” comes from Stewart Mott’s vision of the Flint community in Michigan in the mid 1930’s. As the head of General Motors, he was able to fund these programs through his Mott Foundation, which still exists today.

A simple definition of the term Community School comes from the NEA.

Community Schools are built with the understanding that students often come to the classroom with challenges that impact their ability to learn, explore, and develop to their greatest potential.  

Because learning never happens in isolation, community schools focus on what students in the community truly need to succeed—whether it’s free healthy meals, health care, tutoring, mental health counseling, or other tailored services before, during, and after school. 13

In recent times, here in South Carolina, Professor Barnett Berry has coined the term “ Whole Child,” education.14His thesis is that unless we take care of the complete needs of children, they will not achieve their maximum capabilities. He also believes that “Whole Child” education begins at birth. Although teaching, “The Whole Child” was concept from the 1950’s, Berry’s description of the process of “Whole Child Education” is much wider and includes so much more than just teachers in a classroom.

One form of “Community School” has been a building that was open 24 hours a day and accommodated an entire community’s needs. The current administration in Washington has increased funding for these kinds of “community schools.” That is not to say that they do not exist already. Here is an example of a school district that has recognized the problems  their children bring with them to school and has taken action.

https://inthepublicinterest.org/biden-proposes-increasing-funding-for-community-schools-by-15-times-the-current-level/ 12

The federal government has recently sent out a request for proposals with the intent of distributing the funding to school districts across the country to promulgate or expand community schools. The total of 468 million dollars in the federal budget proposal for 2023 expands the program. It will be distributed to schools that provide medical assistance, nutritional assistance, mental health, tutoring, enrichment and violence prevention services. The schools will have to be those who have been involved in these programs for a decade.

SO WHAT DOES ALL THIS HAVE TO DO WITH SOUTH CAROLINA EDUCATION ?

For the most part, South Carolina’s education system does not work for most of its children. The state has tried a number of changes, but to no avail. There is a feeling among educators and those who view the system, that caring for the students is not the priority that it should be.

A good example of this kind of attitude is the recent return of one billion dollars in taxes, rather than using these funds to upgrade education. The needs are so great in many districts.

The establishment of public education in the 19th century was challenged by churches and by religious organizations across the burgeoning country. In some states, religious leaders imposed their religious beliefs upon these new schools. As one example, in a number states, there were no events in schools on Wednesdays afternoons and evenings. Those times were set aside for religious experiences.

In other states, there were established times when students could be released early to go to religious studies in their churches. Certainly, no sporting events were to be held on Sunday. Bibles were distributed to 6th grade students in many schools across the nation.

These were but a few instances of church actions in public schools. Sometime at the end of the 1960’s, groups of right wing religionists and their acolytes met to try and undo public education in its entirety. Now, some 50 years later, that they are succeeding in their efforts. 

There can be no doubt that elite billionaires with a religious bent are moving to destroy public education. The issue of the separation of church and state is dissolving amidst a cacophony of yelps from these right wing relgionists, or faux religionists, that they are being discriminated against. 

It is a apparent that these plans are not only to create a side by side educational system, but to allow students, who they feel are not up to par,to remain in public schools. 

In the prior administration, billions of dollars were distributed to charter school privateers, religious schools, private schools and others. This Paycheck Protection Plan was to be used for businesses that had not been doing well during the Covid 19 pandemic. Interestingly enough, none of these dollars could go to public schools.15

The history of public education both here and in all parts of our land is the history of our success as a country. The forces that continue to try and dissolve public education have no idea what will come next. Here in an essay by Anya Kamenetz, reporter from NPR, explains the history and a possible future of public education.

​​​​END NOTES

“ A Whole Child Policy Analysis,” Barnett Berry, University of South Carolina, SC4Ed P. 4 2022

2. Annie Casey Foundation 2022 Kids Count data book

3 “Map A-F Grades Rating States of School Quality”, Education Week Research 2021

4 “Minnesota is the Birthplace of Charter Public Schools” Minnesota Association of Charter Schools

5 “ Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” Simply Psychology April 2022

6   1 “ A Whole Child Policy Analysis,” Barnett Berry, University of South Carolina, SC4Ed P. 62022

7   Results of Modified Kindergarten Readiness Assessment 2020-21 Westend Corporation 2021

8   “Superintendent Turnover March 2020 to June 2022,”SCORS research Arnold Hillman 2022

9  Median Houshold Income South Carolina School Districts, U.S. Census 2020

10   “Infant Mortality and selected birth Characteristics” South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control 2021

11  https://www.aasd.k12.wi.us/families/birth-five_outreach

12   https://www.mott.org/about/history/

13   NEA statement on Community Schools- https://www.nea.org/student-success/great-public-schools/community-schools

14 “ A Whole Child Policy Analysis,” Barnett Berry, University of South Carolina, SC4Ed P. 4 2022

15  https://wlvr.org/2020/07/some-local-schools-get-paycheck-protection-funding-from-the-federal-government-while-others-dont/#.Yx6FtHbMKM8

16 Staff, StateHouse Report, September 23, 2022

“A Teacher’s Creed,” by Arnold Hillman

South Carolina may soon have one of the cruelest bans on abortion in the nation. The affluent women who want an abortion will fly or drive to another state to get an abortion. Those who can’t afford to flee to another state, one that does not criminalize reproductive rights, will bear babies they can’t afford or don’t want. They will be forced to carry dead fetuses in their wombs. They will be compelled to give birth to the child of their rapist or their father or brother. Teenagers—children themselves— impregnated by a rapist will be forced to be mothers instead of getting an education.

CNN reports:

CNN) – A South Carolina Senate committee voted Tuesday afternoon to send a proposed near-total ban on abortion to the state Senate for consideration after first removing an exception for rape and incest — a move sure to set up a fight over the legislation in the full chamber.

The South Carolina Senate Medical Affairs Committee advanced House Bill 5399 in a 9-8 vote, with two Republicans joining Democrats in voting against it. The Senate is scheduled to meet Wednesday.

Several members of the state Senate, as well as the House, have said they cannot support a bill that does not include an exception for pregnancies that result from rape or incest.

The state Senate committee voted 7-3 on Tuesday morning to eliminate an exception added by the state House last week for cases of rape or incest up to 12 weeks after conception, with required reporting to law enforcement.

This is the sadistic work of Republican men—in this instance, only Republican men—who value fetuses more than the lives of women. Once those fetuses are born, these same men will not provide healthcare or any of the basics of life.

They love the unborn. They don’t give a damn about the born.

Veteran educator Arnold Hillman and his wife Carol retired to South Carolina. But instead of golfing, they devoted themselves to a high-poverty high school and worked directly with the students to encourage them to aspire them to go to college.

Arnold writes here about what he has learned about South Carolina:

As with the beginning of any sports season, odds makers, fans, team owners, managers and coaches and players look forward to the onset of the games. In single person sports like golf, tennis, combat sports such as real wrestling, boxing, UFC, and the martial arts, expectations are even greater.

How do successful teams, individuals and those who are in charge, manage to rise above others? Why are certain teams and individuals levels of expectations so very high? Why is it that former doormats become champions in a few short years?

There are many examples of those kind or turnarounds. How about Cassius Clay (Muhammed Ali) destroying the world champion Sonny Liston? How did the 1980 USA hockey team come from obscurity to defeat the greatest teams in the world?. For pitysake, how did the New York Mets go from nothingness to World Series Champs in 1969?

There are so many examples of these kind of things that apply to what is happening in education here in South Carolina. Let’s go back to sports for a moment. Certainly, individuals have their own expectations of how they will succeed. Whether nature or nurture, is always a question. If a group of players on a football team have their own beliefs, and they are not shared by the coach, there will be little success.

Try and explain the success of the New England Patriots and then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the case of New England, players wanted to be traded there because of the level of expectations the teams always had of themselves. Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck knew how to win and how to inspire others. Mediocre players who migrated to the Pats soon became integral parts of the success of the team.

Now that Tom Brady is with the Bucs and Bruce Arians, the Coach, there is also an expectation of victories. So, they win the Super Bowl in their first year together. On the other end is the Jacksonville Jaguars, with a super quarterback and a coach who had no level of expectations.

What does this have to do with education in South Carolina? Do we ever wonder why our state is always at the bottom of any ranking list in education? The history is long and continual. Here is a site that will take you a while to read. It is, however, a clear picture of why education has not flourished in our state.

Now that you understand our history, you can see why the level of expectation for our children is so low. Pat Conroy and his “Corridor of Shame,” described the situation in many of our poor and rural school districts. He taught in one of those districts. He understood.

For some reason, it appears that those in charge of education at the state level continue to treat parts of our state in a way that encourages low expectations. Here are some historical reasons why South Carolina’s education system has floundered though the years:

 

“1. A strong tradition brought from England that public support for education should be limited to the poor

2. Education seen as more of the responsibility of the Church than the State

3. Attitudes of those outside the wealthy class that worked against a unified system, including low regard for learning, reluctance to accept charity through free tuition, and the need to keep children in the family labor force

4. The very high cost in the 1700s and 1800s to provide quality schools outside the citiesand coastal areas, population was sparse and transportation poor

5. Strong resistance to local taxation for schools until the late 1800s

6. Interruption of a burgeoning “common school movement” in South Carolina by the CivilWar, and the subsequent disruption of a tax base

7. Increased white resistance to the public school idea following the Reconstruction government’s attempts to open schools to all races

8. An attitude on the part of some 20th century leaders that too much education would damage the state’s cheap labor force

9. The slow growth of state supervision of the schools due to strong sentiments toward local control

10. The financial burden of operating a racially segregated system, and the social and educational impact of combining two unequal systems”

 

(The History of South Carolina Schools

Edited by Virginia B. Bartels

Study commissioned by the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement)

(CERRA–SC)

 

These historical happenings still are partially responsible for our current education system. Low test scores in the poor and rural sections of the state confound state leadership. Therefore, they have come to expect these outcomes year after year.

Yet, in travels across the state, SCORS (South Carolina Organization of Rural Schools) has seen how those school districts and their children make huge efforts to improve education. We have worked with these children in one local high school and seen the lack of resources, lack of quality of instruction, and actual lack of teachers in math and sciences.

In many of the rural and poor school districts, there has been “white flight” to private schools, charter schools, religious schools and home schoolings. Once again the wealthier the school district, the higher they are in the rankings of school districts in the state.

So, what is left- a lack of expectations for those left in the public schools. Why, say the talking heads and misunderstanders, aren’t these schools doing better. The system is really stacked against those poor and rural folks. However, are the children really unable to learn or compete, on any level, with the lighthouse districts? You bet they can. I have seen it.

Let me give you some anecdotal evidence. Dr. Vernon (not her real name) was the superintendent of a rural school district in South Carolina. She was, in fact, a product of the public schools in SC. She came from humble beginings and rose to her position as superintendent with some help from people and a great desire to help youngsters like herself.

After 5 years as superintendent, her board changed dramatically. One of her board members said that the students test scores on certain state tests were not true and that she had elevated those test scores. The Department of Education was called in and found none of those charges to be true. Board members could not believe that the children could be this good. By the way the superintendent and board parted ways with much acrimony.

Certainly there was much politics in her leaving. She also sued the board for defamation of character and won. Was all this because the level of expectations for the poor, minority and rural children were unable to improve on their test scores?

Another anecdote centers about a student (and an excellent basketball player) was placed in a prep school outside of Philadelphia. He spent a year there as a post graduate. After the first four weeks of school, he retook the SATs and got 120 more points than he had at his old school. He got an athletic scholarship from a prestigious university.

So what does all that mean? We can tell you from my 61 years in education that there is a blanket on our poor and rural children that leads to a lack of expectations and a lack of will to help these children.

South Carolina’s public schools, teachers, and students are in for some tough times. Republicans went to the polls and selected a rightwing ideologue as their candidate for state superintendent. Ellen Weaver does not have the master’s degree that state law requires the state chief to have. She has signed up to get a master’s in “Christian Leadership” at Bob Jones University and expects to get her degree in eight months.

Weaver has made her hostility to public schools and professional teachers clear. She (and the SC media) refer to education professionals as “the education establishment.”

Ellen Weaver, president and CEO of the Palmetto Promise Institute, handily defeated teachers advocate Kathy Maness in Tuesday’s GOP primary runoff, a development with potentially major implications for the state’s public schools…

Weaver, who does not currently meet the statutory requirements to hold officebecause she lacks an advanced degree, has cast herself as a bold reformer fighting to eradicate liberal ideologies like so-called critical race theory that she claims are seeping into public education.

“The fight to save our schools is a fight to save that American dream for the next generation,” she said at a debate last week. “If we don’t stand in the gap for our kids and against the wokeism and sexualization agendas that are coming out of Washington, we have lost our country.”

Weaver will face Democrat Lisa Ellis, a Richland 2 teacher and student activities director, in the general election. Ellis, who is best known for founding the grassroots teachers organization SC for Ed, won the Democratic primary outright earlier this month.

Weaver refers to a master’s degree as “letters behind your name.” Presumably, at a better time, when politicians weren’t putting a wrecking ball to public education, they set that qualification there to assure that the state superintendent was an experienced educator, not an ideologue who is contemptuous of the state’s most important public institution.

Sadly, South Carolina got the kind of leader that the law was supposed to bar. Teachers are upset about what happens next, as well they should be.

South Carolina needs a leader who will fight for more funding, especially for its most vulnerable children. If Weaver beats her Democratic opponent, the state will have a leader who dabbles in nonsense about race and gender instead of improving the schools.

If you are a parent, a teacher, or a concerned citizen, help elect Lisa Ellis. She’s a teacher, she has experience, she knows what students need and will fight for it.

This should be a fascinating event, and it starts in only 2 1/2 hours!

Educators and concerned citizens in South Carolina are holding a Town Hall zoom at Furman University about the new legislative mandates that criminalize teaching the truth about race and gender.

I asked for and received permission for readers of this blog to join the zoom.

To register for the zoom, sign in here:

https://furman.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_0pZJAK1PSPGZSS4npLWqOg