Charleston County schools are and have been for decades, in trouble. The school board is an over politicized cocktail hour where nothing much but pandering and posturing take place. Meanwhile the children suffer in under funded schools with under trained and uninspired teachers. Not surprisingly many of the board members have children who attended or are attending private school. The utter hypocrisy of that we will leave for another post.
When Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was brought in as Superintendent we thought that things would change. Slowly, because it is Charleston and heaven forbid we move quickly just because a situation is dire, but it would change. Then reality set in. Although she was able to make great strides in some areas surprisingly quickly she was not able to deal with the board for more than four years. When Seattle came calling she left.
Dr. Nancy McGinley replaced her and educators around Charleston County breathed a sigh of relief. They were not turning back into the wilderness; they had hired another strong educator with a history of turning schools around. It should not have been a surprise to anyone when Arthur Ravenel, Jr, a school board member, said to one of his staffers that he had gotten rid of one bitch that didn’t agree with him and he could get rid of another. We know he said it because the entire office heard him, including two other school board members who later covered for him, one a woman who advocated sterilization of unwed mothers. Yes, it’s bad in Charleston.
The comment itself is not the thing that sends my blood pressure through the roof. The comment is what you would expect from an 81 year old bigot from a powerful family when he’s confronted with two strong, smart women who are trying to make a change. He’s an irrelevant relic except for the fact that other board members have lied for him and are now supporting him. The entire board should have called for his resignation immediately. Actually the people of Charleston county should have never elected him, but what’s done is done.
We, as a nation seem to forget that we live in a bottom up government. You want better schools? Pick a better board. Yes, voting for President, Senate and Congress are all important, but do you know who your councilperson is? Your Sheriff? Your State Rep? These are the people who impact you and your family on a daily basis in the details – national government paints with broad strokes. While the people of Charleston get swept up in the national moment just like the rest of us hopefully they’ll remember that they also have an obligation to the children stuck in those schools. While they follow with interest the racial and sexual politics of this national campaign hopefully they’ll see the racists and sexists who are in charge of their children’s education.