Lowcountry Center for Educational Leadership (LCEL) – The Case for Support

Quality of life and long-term economic viability in the Lowcountry rest on the availability of a well-trained and ready workforce. Public education and the more than 150 public schools in the region serve as the talent supply chain for employers. The three essential elements for education attainment are highly skilled instructional leaders as principals leading highly qualified teachers who are setting high expectations for students.

Two years ago, on the heels of a successful collaboration in early literacy, we, the four school superintendents in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties, initiated a project to create a pipeline of aspiring principals ready to fill vacancies as they arise. High turnover, especially in the region’s most challenging schools, too often leads to individuals being placed in these positions with too little time to prepare. We are determined to do something about it.

A nationwide review of best practices in principal preparation was conducted on our behalf by Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC), with support from the Wallace Foundation, over a one-year period. Three evidence-based programs emerged whose representatives were invited to the region to make a proposal. Of these, the University of Washington’s Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) was selected.

There are two components to this superintendents’ initiative:

Instructional Leadership Training – Sitting Principals and Principal Supervisors

This summer, 45 sitting principals from the four districts will begin a year-long training, conducted by CEL in the Lowcountry and paid for entirely by the districts. A second training for principal supervisors is available and will be delivered in the future. Both program components will be managed by the LCEL going forward, once the center is established.

Aspiring Principals Training

The development of an aspiring principals training is intended to serve the needs of the four districts and yield candidates who are state-certified and ready to serve. Candidates for this program will be identified by each district, and principal vacancies within each district will be filled as much as possible by its graduates.

The development work will be supported by consultants working with CEL and completed by representatives of all four districts to assure not only a common core curriculum but also responsiveness to the distinctive practices of each district.

The cost of this development work and a turn-key approach to launching the center is $400,000. Of this amount, $350,000 is intended to cover the cost of developing the program with support from the CEL and consultants who will be working with CEL and district representatives to adapt the CEL model to the Lowcountry. The remaining $50,000 constitutes a down payment on the cost of the LCEL staff.

We do not contemplate a brick-and-mortar center but a virtual organization, with one to two staff managing logistics and equipping themselves to serve as trainers. Once established, the center will be overseen by the districts and be self-supporting, based on tuition paid by each district. Establishing a relationship with a college or university serving the Lowcountry will be considered as the work develops.

We are seeking support from multiple sources: national foundations, the state government and individual support. However, we are also looking to our business and community leaders who have the most to gain from a well-educated and trained workforce.

There is every indication that for the first time in decades real education reform in the region and state is possible. Assuring our children and their teachers have highly qualified instructional leaders in every school is the surest means of sustaining transformation.

For more information, please contact John C. Read at JohnRead@TriCountyCradleToCareer.org or Terri Nichols at Terri_Nichols@charleston.k12.sc.us.

Sincerely,

Dr. Eddie Ingram, Superintendent, Berkeley County School District

Dr. Gerrita Postlewait, Superintendent, Charleston County School District

Mr. Joe Pye, Superintendent, Dorchester School District Two

Dr. Morris Ravenell, Superintendent, Dorchester School District Four

Panelists discuss education reform during TCCC event at CSU

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative released its fifth annual Regional Education Report on April 9 at Charleston Southern University.

During the event, TCCC hosted a panel discussion featuring Melanie Barton, executive director of the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee, Anjene Davis, a community advocate; Gerrita Postlewait, superintendent of the Charleston County School District; and Anita Zucker, CEO of The InterTech Group.

Melanie Barton

Melanie Barton

Barton said she is pessimistic about the S.C. General Assembly passing significant education reform during this session.

“What the General Assembly, I think, will end up doing is increasing starting salaries of teachers from $32,000 to $35,000 as the minimum. They’ll give all other teachers a 4% pay raise. That’s in both versions of the bill. I think it’s done,” she said. “There may be a reduction in end-of-year testing in social studies and science, and there may be legislation to force some smaller, multi-county school districts to merge or give them incentives to merge, because that’s also in the budget. And then we will call it a win; we’re done. That’s my greatest fear that nothing else will change and that’s what we’re going to call ‘we’ve addressed the issue.’”

Barton said ideas like “disruption” – the theme of TCCC’s newest Regional Education Report – require courage, leadership and a grassroots revolution to be accomplished.

“Honestly, in my talks – and I’ve been around the state a good bit – I honestly don’t think that the public believes we have a crisis,” she said.

Anita Zucker

Anita Zucker

Zucker, who founded TCCC, urged the business community to be courageous and take a leadership role in ensuring education reform is a priority.

“The business community better step up and stand up and get really loud. I know Boeing is always up at the Statehouse. They’re always in the middle of this,” Zucker said. “The rest of us might need to get on a bus and join them because they’re not hearing and not understanding. … If we, as a community, don’t stand up and have that sense of urgency and bias for action, we will never be able to create the necessary change.”

Davis shared that the region’s Black community has the sense of urgency but is fatigued.

Anjene Davis

Anjene Davis

“The unfortunate part about it is, though, that many people I represent will never set foot in this room, will never sit at the tables where the decisions and conversations will be made. … In the Black community, primarily, we’re fatigued with all the efforts, the change. It seems as though every year or every other year, there is some initiative coming down the pipe, especially as it relates to education. Some imperative,” Davis said. “When you look at the statistics as they’re reported, African American students and Hispanic students bear the brunt of the negative research and statistics that are out there.”

He said Black families feel that they are at a disadvantage because they are consistently asked to follow and do things that never seem to work.

“When you think about it, parents are the investors in our school systems. Every morning, parents get up and send their most precious gifts into our schools with the idea that the school, in turn, is going to do its best job to educate and make sure that our babies become the best people they can be,” Davis said. “It is very disheartening to consistently hear on a regular basis that the schools in which African-American students are the predominant populations are the failing schools.”

Gerrita Postlewait

Gerrita Postlewait

Postlewait – who provided an update on CCSD’s Mission Critical work, an effort to improve the education system – acknowledged that “what we have done in the past is not getting us to where we want to go.”

She said the district is now undertaking a kind of change that makes people very uncomfortable.

“It’s the type of change that is unpopular, the type of change that frightens people because they don’t know whether to trust that this time it will be different,” Postlewait said. “Very quickly, we have to show the community that we are earnest about listening to them, about taking some of their suggestions, about being malleable in our thinking, and our responses have to fairly quickly show that what we do differently will produce some results. … We must speak with one voice. We must find one courageous heart, and, when we take action, we cannot afford to fire inward on one another.”

 

Links:

Read the PDF version of the Regional Education Report.

Watch a short animated video about the report’s data.

Watch the full Community Leadership Council event video.

Check out photos from the April 9 event.

TCCC seeking AmeriCorps VISTA member

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC) is recruiting a volunteer-driven AmeriCorps VISTA member to focus on increasing high school graduation and college enrollment rates across the region.

Position:

The AmeriCorps VISTA member will serve a full-time, one-year term beginning June 10, 2019 and ending June 9, 2020.

Position Summary:

The Charleston region has experienced unprecedented growth over the past several years. While the region has experienced some benefits from this growth, there has also been a widening of economic inequality. Overall, Black and Hispanic students are less likely than their White counterparts to graduate from high school and obtain a postsecondary degree. This is at a time when completion of a college degree has an increasing value in the local economy. With just 43% of adults in the region over the age of 25 holding an associate degree or higher, it is time to come together as a community to remove the barriers to postsecondary access for all students.

This position will work collectively and collaboratively with tri-county schools and relevant stakeholders to develop a comprehensive and sustainable strategy that supports a regional college-going culture. Specific focus will be placed on schools and communities that have a high majority of Black, Hispanic and low-income families.

Project Objectives:

  1. Create a system that will increase school staff confidence, knowledge and awareness of the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) process.
  2. Develop a framework for making college access a priority of every staff member at our regional high schools.
  3. Increase community knowledge and awareness of FAFSA and college opportunities.

About TCCC:

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC) is a community movement in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties, SC, committed to improving educational outcomes for ALL students.

Using data and focused community collaboration across a continuum from “cradle-to-career,” TCCC works to build and implement strategies that will facilitate widespread systemic change, with the ultimate goal of increased student success and economic prosperity for all.

Families, students, educators, administrators, nonprofits, businesses, school districts, colleges, churches and other civic and philanthropic groups and service providers have joined as partners in this movement, and others are encouraged to get involved.

How to Apply:

TCCC’s position is part of the Charleston Area Service Collaborative. Applications must be submitted through My AmeriCorps.

Click here to learn more about the Charleston AmeriCorps VISTA project.

Click here to learn more and join AmeriCorps.

Requirements:

  • Associate or Bachelor’s degree
  • Ability to pass a national service criminal history check
  • Must hold one of the following citizenship statuses: US citizen, US National, Lawful Permanent Resident Aliens and persons residing in a state that have the following legal residency classifications: refugee, asylum or asylee, temporary protected status, or deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) status.

TCCC releases fifth annual Regional Education Report

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC) today released its fifth annual Regional Education Report during the organization’s Community Leadership Council breakfast at Charleston Southern University.

This report, titled “Disruption,” identifies how inequity shows itself across the cradle-to-career continuum and provides actions and disruptions that are needed to cause public education to support the success of every child from birth.

Anita Zucker

Anita Zucker

“All children should have the opportunity to succeed. Although our region has seen some positive educational improvements, there are stark disparities in academic performance of children from different socioeconomic and racial backgrounds that have limited opportunities for success,” said Anita Zucker, chair of the TCCC Board of Directors and CEO of The InterTech Group. “Inequitable school funding mechanisms have had a disproportionately negative impact on students of color, especially Black students. Our region is home to some of the best educational opportunities in the country, yet an alarming number of our children cannot meet grade-level standards.”

Each year since 2015, TCCC has published the Regional Education Report to provide updated facts on the following core indicators: kindergarten readiness, 3rd grade reading and math proficiency, 8th grade reading and math proficiency, high school graduation rate, college-ready rate, work-ready rate, postsecondary enrollment and postsecondary completion. The reports also track progress toward 2025 goals for each core indicator.

The data continue to show little to no progress is being made in increasing readiness, proficiency and completion rates.

John C. Read

John C. Read

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” said TCCC CEO John C. Read. “We know every child can learn – we have evidence right here in the region. We must see that we, as a community, are responsible for ensuring our children receive more than just a ‘minimally adequate’ education.”

The Regional Education Report also identifies specific changes that TCCC is advocating for, including, among others, the increased use of the School of Choice Law to allow for additional innovative schools, redrawing attendance zones to greater diversify schools, reforming school funding policies, increasing teacher salaries and providing all families access to quality, affordable pre-school (3K and 4K).

This year’s report additionally names the fundamental issue that is perpetuating disparities in the education system: historic and continuing racism, which is implicitly and explicitly infused into education funding, policies, practices and treatments.

“Last year’s report was titled ‘Constructive Disruption,’ and it launched an effort on our part to advocate for systems change and transformation,” Read said. “This year’s report is titled ‘Disruption,’ not because we encourage a response that isn’t constructive, but because we see little value in sugar coating what should happen next. As long as we continue to operate within the status quo, Black and Hispanic children will bear the consequences more than others. Failing to correct the problem when we know what it takes is just racism by another name.”

Read the PDF version of the Regional Education Report.

Watch a short animated video about the report’s data.

Watch the full Community Leadership Council event video.

TCCC to release next Regional Education Report on Tuesday

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC) will release its fifth annual Regional Education Report on Tuesday, April 9! Check back then to download your PDF copy!

Mission Critical: First North Charleston community meeting planned for April 9

All parents and North Charleston community members are invited to attend the first of three meetings between April and June to express your views on what is wanted and needed for your public schools.

This is not a “district meeting” but an opportunity for an independent voice directly to the Charleston County School District Board – invited and encouraged by the Board and its “Mission Critical” actions planning.

There will not be any speeches or panel discussions. You will have the opportunity to see how North Charleston schools are performing for your children and further discuss in small groups, with trusted community leaders, what should come next.

When: 6 to 7:45 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9

Where: North Charleston High School (1087 East Montague Avenue)

Co-Facilitators: Thetyka Robinson and John Read, Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative

We look forward to this experience and what will be created together.

** Refreshments will be provided. **