As a parent of children in Charleston County schools, I am very concerned about the district’s proposal for yet another unproven “fix” for our schools. CCSD is currently piloting a plan, BRIDGE, to evaluate and pay teachers using student standardized test scores.

The long-term goal is to replace the district-wide teacher salary structure with merit pay by 2016.

Whether you support or oppose using a value-added analysis to measure student growth and teacher effectiveness, it is a major game-changer in public education. All stakeholders need to be involved in this decision, but I am finding the district’s BRIDGE process to be extremely limited and closed.

CCSD claims that the new plan is to be “developed and piloted by our educators for our educators.”

According to the CCSD website, the BRIDGE steering committee includes at least 17 administrators and only four teachers, one of whom represents Michelle Rhee’s controversial StudentsFirst organization.

The committee does not include any parents who are not CCSD employees. There are no independent community members on the committee. This is an extremely unbalanced committee and reeks of intimidation.

There is a general lack of public information about BRIDGE. Has CCSD made any effort to give information to parents through the PTA, school newsletters or fact sheets? Are any community meetings planned before the school board votes on the proposal in January?

If CCSD is to actually “welcome input of our teachers, principals, parents, and community partners,” all stakeholders must be informed and allowed equal access at the decision-making table.

I encourage all parents and teachers to ask about BRIDGE and find out how you can get involved in making our schools quality places of learning and teaching.

If you would like to join a parent discussion group, please contact me at CCShad@aol.com.

Sarah Shad Johnson

Charleston Area Community

Voice for Education

Parents Across America

Flannery Place

Mount Pleasant