Burke High needs top teachers, maybe magnet status
I was pleased to learn that the South Carolina Department of Education will not take over Burke and North Charleston High Schools.
I was not convinced that the state is more capable than our district leaders in providing the insight and the creative skills needed to improve these schools.
Also, placing these schools in a “failing district” would do more harm than good to the self-image of the students and parents who must attend these broken and ineffective schools.
I served Burke as guidance counselor during the late ’60s and early ’70s, which can be characterized as its Golden Years. During this period and that before my tenure, under Margaret (Maggie) Broadnax, a high percentage of Burke students were graduated and went on to serve their various communities as professionals, skilled craftsmen and leaders.
During the transition from segregation to a unitary district, various programs were sponsored at Burke to enhance its basic curriculum.
A Better Chance recruited our students for various preparatory schools in the northeast. The Farm Commission Education facet, under the leadership of James Clyburn, offered scholarships to Wilberforce University. Operation Catch-Up provided after- school tutoring and challenging summer programs tutored by graduate students from northeastern universities.
However, times have changed.
Burke’s beautiful campus of brick and mortar stands underutilized because of a declining student population. Where have all the children (families) gone? The development of charter and magnet schools has negatively affected student enrollment at Burke.
Why should parents who seek the best for their children select Burke (or North Charleston) for their children’s education?
When I served on District 20 Constituent School Board, we discussed making all schools in District 20 magnet schools.
Burke had great possibilities by connecting with the Medical University and other area hospitals for health careers. The city also offers connection with the arts: dance, music, drama, painting, etc. Yet, no magnet has been established at Burke as an attraction.
The idea should be fully explored.
I also served as director of the federally funded programs under the Emergency School Aid Act (ESAA). ESAA established model programs to improve academic achievement that could be replicated as federal funding decreased.
Did ESAA make an impact? Jon Butzon, July 7 Post and Courier, is correct in questioning the courage of our educational leaders to implement the drastic and innovative changes that are needed to eliminate failing schools.
Although many of our young teachers have a zeal and commitment to become great teachers, most are not prepared to teach in urban school settings. As a member of the S.C. House of Representatives, I questioned the relevance of teacher preparation courses taught in our colleges and universities.
Instead of offering bonuses for principals only, master teachers, paid accordingly, should be placed in these schools to mentor young and inexperienced teachers.
Most students have loving and caring parents. However, many parents are unaware of the influence of peer pressure on the behavior of their children at school.
Unless a child’s behavior results in being sent home, there is little planned or positive relationship between school and home. This situation cries out for creative solutions.
Failing schools are the product of a failing system where no one person or group is to be blamed. All have the responsibility of demanding and promoting creative and innovative changes that will produce better citizens and better communities for the future.
Lucille S. Whipper