A Vision for a New Garrett Middle and High School

A Vision for a New Garrett Middle and High School

Submitted by Jesse Williams, Rep. Marvin Pendarvis & Dr. Carol Tempel

THE CHARLESTON CHRONICLE — When voting to build a new Center for Advanced Studies at North Charleston High School, instead of Garrett Academy of Technology, board members added that they would continue to invest in improving the quality of education at Garrett. In order to hold the school board accountable, the Quality Education Project (QEP) encourages the board and stakeholders to consider solutions that are outlined below since a thorough revision of the academic and vocational curriculum at Garrett is urgent and necessary.

In order to ensure greater and more diverse student attendance, the Garrett campus should be open to a growing middle school population in North Charleston. The prospects of building a middle school building to cater to area students and to build a strong pipeline into the trades programs should be considered, given the fact that two standalone high schools already exist.

Key questions about the vocational curriculum must also be addressed. Garrett is poised to offer a new Curriculum and Instructional Model for Twenty-first Century Career and Technology Training. This program should offer Landscaping and Design, Renewable Energy Technology, Finance and Entrepreneurial Leadership, Hospitality and Tourism, Early Childhood Education, Culinary Arts, Automotive Mechanics and Auto Body, Mechanical Building Trades, and Transportation, Distribution and Logistics.  This vocational training offers the necessary skills for full employment in the Lowcountry that not only prepares students for the current job market but the future workplace as well. It is vital that vocational programs are aligned with the strengths of the local economy and Lowcountry employers who are committed to hiring local graduates. These trades and the overall academic program at Garrett are intended to complement the CAS at North Charleston High School to avoid duplication.

At the same time, questions about the academic curriculum are warranted. The new Garrett High School could offer a rigorous college preparatory curriculum to appeal to those students who are on the waiting list at Academic Magnet and others interested in a college track. To meet the unique academic and vocational needs of Garrett, adopting an International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which has solid academics with a career and technology component beginning in Middle School, is one constructive way to meet the unique needs of Garrett. The IB Program should offer college-level training in foreign languages, math, sciences, and the humanities that will translate into college credit at local and state institutions. The IB program also promises to differentiate itself from the programs offered at North Charleston High School.

Given the appeal this curriculum will have, it is worth considering how the new Garrett Middle and High School is governed. A traditional neighborhood public, partial-magnet (non-charter) school offers the best avenue for public participation and transparency. Any new program should not be run by a charter organization or Meeting Street Academy, or any other program that privatizes or takes away public and district oversight of the school. Garrett will therefore serve a broader school population that focuses on the local North Charleston community.

These solutions offer the beginning of a very important discussion in regard to the quality of education that the school district and school board has promised to the Garrett community. As the community and district officials contemplate a model for Garrett, QEP calls on district leadership to make a public commitment to an academically viable Garrett, to share all plans they are contemplating, and to provide a timeframe to enact these reforms. The public and communities impacted are far too often left in the dark, wondering about specifics concerning district plans. This leads to a lack of transparency and mistrust of the school board and district. As an organization committed to quality public education, QEP feels that these points of discussion are consistent with the ideals of quality public education and that Garrett can reflect these standards. With collaborative support, these inquires can inspire a model for the district, if not the entire state of South Carolina to follow.

Race Disparities Report – Charleston County Only Needs The Will To Implement Solutions

Race Disparities Report – Charleston County Only Needs The Will To Implement Solutions

By Barney Blakeney

THE CHARLESTON CHRONICLE — The report on racial disparities in Charleston County compiled by The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston offers more than statistical data about racism that has existed for generations. It also offers solutions.

The report titled “The State of Racial Disparities in Charleston County, South Carolina 2000-2015”, outlines data compiled in several categories that include Income and Poverty Levels, Gentrification and Barriers to Affordable Housing, Educational Attainment and Crime and Policing. Author Dr. Stacey Patton included recommendations for addressing the disparities found.

The report confirms what African Americans have felt and experienced, said Patton, yet the situation remains unchanged. To address them we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but we must be explicit in our commitment to addressing those disparities. There are people in place and the information is available. So there’s no excuse, she said.

The report includes recommendations specific to Charleston County and utilizes ‘toolboxes’ created by various resources to address racial disparities and structural racism as a public priority. Developing a framework that requires racial equity, inclusion and integration plans along with evaluating policies and programs which perpetuate racial and economic disparities is a place to start, the report suggests.

Addressing chronic poverty is part of the process. A minimum wage of $15 per hour leads the recommendations. Eliminating barriers to work by providing reliable transportation systems through public transportation and parking vouchers combined with conjunctive high quality affordable childcare and re-entry employment programs for those returning from incarceration enhances employability opportunities – in short, dismantle systemic barriers to hiring qualified Black candidates.

The report recommends immediate efforts to preserve existing subsidized and affordable housing and expeditiously expanding the supply. Preventing involuntary displacement of residents from neighborhoods undergoing redevelopment and gentrification is paramount as well.

As youth are our future, the report suggests investing in summer employment and extended-day learning programs. Also it suggests expanding full-day high quality pre-school programs. Students involved in juvenile justice programs should get quality instruction also, the report suggests.

Charleston County only needs the will to implement. The report, like others before it, tells us where to start, Patton said.