Whenever something goes horribly awry in the mismanaged educational wasteland that is South Carolina public schools, the SC Dept. of Education manages to rouse itself from a bureaucratic stupor long enough to skew the facts or divert attention to some less offensive topic.
According to this article in the Orangeburg Times and Democrat, four schools in the Orangeburg area were named ” Red Carpet Schools” by the S.C. Dept. of Education. This honor is apparently reserved for schools that do “an outstanding job of creating a family-friendly school environment and providing excellent customer service, according to the State Department of Education.”
Do superior academics determine whether a school is recognized? Apparently not.
Lockett Elementary, an Orangeburg Consolidated School District 4 school, is a recipient of the Red Carpet Award.
According to Dept. of Education numbers, Lockett Elementary has exceptionally bad academic performance ratings. In 2007, only 33% of students in the school were proficient or advanced in reading and writing, and only 32% were proficient in Math. Equally startling is the school’s large achievement gap. Almost 45% of all African American students at Lockett Elementary in 2007 were Below Basic in reading and writing , while only 18.2% of white students were graded Below Basic. Over 55% of African American students attending Lockett were Below Basic in 2007, as compared to 22.4% of their white peers.
Bethune-Bowman Middle/High School, another Orangeburg school that received the “Red Carpet Award,” has equally low academic marks. Since 2003, the S.C. Annual School Report Cards for Bethune-Bowman have ranked the school as “Below Average”, with only 16.1% of its students testing at the proficient or advanced level in Science for 2007.
The list goes on and on.
The actual performance of these examples of “Red Carpet” schools show clearly that the S.C. Dept. of Education has no interest in spotlighting student performance. Instead of working to boost literacy and close the achievement gap in these schools, education bureaucrats are scrambling to devise easily -obtainable awards that will hide the ugly truth about how children are being educated in the Palmetto State.
The hypocrisy is unbelievable.
Jim Rex and many others have warned about the pitfalls of a “minimally adequate education.” Why do they encourage “minimally adequate education” by setting up academically failing schools as role models? The achievement gap has been decried time and again by Rex and Company. Why do these same people tacitly approve of a racially disparate education by praising schools that leave poor black students behind at more than twice the rate of white students?
These sham awards again show that politician Jim Rex is willing to promote image over substance, even at the expense of the state’s most powerless citizens: our children.