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Cheering non-progress: New direction of school district examined

A Column by the Editor
web posted November 15, 2007
COLUMN – The Report Cards for our local school were released today and our new Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Mary Crenshaw, is ecstatic. “Once we have studied all the test data, and review instructional programs, the instructional staff will implement best practices to address the identified needs of our children,” Dr. Crenshaw said in a prepared statement. You can read that again if you need to. Crenshaw continues, “Yes, the bar is being raised every year…but the track record of Edgefield educators proves that we can meet if not exceed the bar.” Somebody needs to teach Dr. Crenshaw how to read a report card and proper sentence structure.

Of the eight schools under the direct control of the Edgefield County School District, only one scored “excellent”, the Strom Thurmond Career Center. Four scored “unsatisfactory” or “below average” and only one, Merriwether Elementary ranked “good”. The independent Fox Creek Charter High School that is sucking money away from our county school system also ranked “below average”.

So much for the good news.

The bad news is out of all nine schools only two showed an improvement rating of average or excellent, Johnston Elementary and the STH Career Center respectively.

Excuse me if I do not share Dr. Crenshaw’s glowing assessment of the situation regarding our schools. Given her propensity to lower test scores under her past administrations I would not expect her to be able to grasp the simple concept receiving higher marks as a way to show advancement, not regression as a success.

However, to be fair, School Board member James Bibbs, along with Chairwoman Sallie Cooks, Viola Jackson, and Mary Alice Jackson said they wanted to change the direction our district was heading after posting record high SAT scores and that, evidently, is why they hired the low achievement queen Dr. Crenshaw.

At first I was angry, but then I began to try to put myself in a non-thinking person’s head. Any thinking person would conclude that the way to mark success is to improve scores and progress. That is what you get for thinking.

What our illustrious leaders on our School Board must be thinking is, if we are doing great but our improvement record is hard to meet - we need to hire someone that will take us to new lows so that any improvement over being a complete failure is good news. It’s the old, “a dim light shines bright in a dark room,” theory.

Meanwhile our children suffer as the lowest common denominator becomes the mean standard for all.

Welcome to the future of Education in Edgefield County. If you are thinking of running off to sign up at Fox Creek, remember that they are “below average” and have brought the entire county down in SAT scores. That takes a lot of work with so few students attending the school.

On the bright side, we are producing a surplus of federal government workers. Somehow that seems like an oxymoron.

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