Kindergarten Readiness Network members take a Data Walk

Special thanks to all Kindergarten Readiness Network members who joined us for a Data Walk! Members spent time at six stations reviewing and discussing early childhood facility locations, capacity and ratings; Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) results broken down by test domains, school, race and poverty level; and food deserts.


Riley Institute accepting submissions for Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award

Do you know a school or community-based program that is truly making a difference for our students?

The Riley Institute at Furman University is accepting submissions for the annual Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award, given each fall to a program that is making a difference for our public school students and has data to support its success.

Submissions are open March 4, 2019 – April 30, 2019 for this year’s award.  To be considered for the award programs must:

  • have been in existence for one year;
  • have a design grounded in sound national research; and
  • have a comprehensive evaluation that shows convincing evidence of success and the relevance and effectiveness of the program.

A confidential, non-partisan selection committee consisting of representatives from the South Carolina State Board of Education, a major South Carolina-based corporation, a South Carolina institution of higher education, and a representative from a highly-regarded national education program will judge the entries.

The winner and finalists of the will be announced and celebrated at the annual WhatWorksSC Awards luncheon on November 12, 2019 in Columbia. The winner will receive a $10,000 cash award, with a $1,000 award going to each of the two finalists.

Past and future winners and finalists will be featured on SCETV’s website and in the Riley Institute’s WhatWorksSC Clearinghouse.

Past winners include:

2018 Farm to Belly (Bradshaw Institute, Prisma Health)

2017 Make Summer Count (Public Education Partners)

2016 Healing Species Violence Prevention Compassion Education Program

2015 Teacher Cadet Program (Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement-CERRA)

2014 Center of Excellence to Prepare Teachers of Children of Poverty (Francis Marion University)

2013 Chester Park Elementary School of Inquiry Project-Based Learning Initiative (with Winthrop University)

2012 Reading Recovery Training Center (Clemson University)

2011 South Carolina Teaching Fellows (Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement-CERRA)


Communications professional joins TCCC staff

Amanda Kowal

Amanda Kowal

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative has expanded its staff by hiring Amanda Kowal as Communications and Administration Associate, a part-time position that reports to the Director of Communications and Operations.

Kowal has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, meeting planning and administration with non-profit organizations. Her most recent position was in marketing and communications for AnMed Health Medical System in Anderson.

At TCCC, Kowal will assist in drafting communications to partners, donors and the general public as well as planning and coordinating meetings and events.

“TCCC is growing and taking on many new initiatives in our work to support the success of every child. Amanda’s ample experience in non-profit communications will help us meet our goals and move forward,” Ashley Heffernan, TCCC’s Director of Communications and Operations, said. “I believe she will be a valuable asset to the TCCC team.”

Kowal earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. She has also worked for the Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society in Atlanta and the American Speech-Language Hearing Association in Rockville, MD, as well as other organizations.

Letter: Reform education funding laws

Special thanks to The Post & Courier for publishing TCCC CEO John C. Read’s letter to the editor, titled “Reform education funding laws.”

“All of the reports and studies are explicit: The vestiges of racial biases pervade the existing system and must be eliminated before every child can succeed,” Read said.

Click here to read the letter.

TCCC recommends changes to innovative schools, teacher salary, early childhood

Note: A previous version of this press release included an error in the teacher pay recommendation. The mistake has been corrected, and TCCC sincerely regrets the error.

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative announced the first of what will likely be a series of actions needed to support the reformation of public education in the tri-county region and across the state. Education attainment in the region has shown almost no progress over the past six years, and TCCC has expanded its advocacy work to press for change.

These first three actions are the result of deliberations by TCCC’s staff and Board of Directors, as well as ongoing consultation with various community groups.

1. We believe that to reform public education from within, local school boards should be permitted, supported and encouraged to create more than one innovative school per district. Legislative language should be included that directs this flexibility toward innovative models serving high-poverty areas and with community representatives at the decision table.

For example, districts are limited to one such innovative school under the terms of the School of Choice Law. In the tri-county region, only the Charleston County School District has created an innovative school.

2. We believe an increase in teacher pay to the Southeast region market average is the first step in improving teacher recruitment and retention. A 5% salary increase is required immediately, followed by a 15% increase over time to move toward the national average. Salary increases should be fully funded by the state.

The teacher shortage in schools and in the teacher-training pipeline has reached crisis proportions, and there is no doubt that pay is a critical factor. If the tri-county region is unable to assure a pipeline of qualified teachers, there is no possible way to close workforce gaps in other occupations.

3. We believe that focused attention by the state on early childhood development and education is a necessary step in support of education attainment for all. We support the reorganization of state agencies to place programs supporting early childhood in a single department.

The state of South Carolina has early childhood support programs spread across multiple departments, making coordination and alignment of these initiatives impossible. Reorganization is the first step toward increasing evidence-based programs, especially for children and families at risk.

“We strongly encourage our state lawmakers to make these necessary changes and to make education reform a meaningful priority,” said Laura Varn, a member of the TCCC Board of Directors and chair of the Board’s Advocacy Subcommittee. “It’s time we stand up for our teachers and our children as an investment in our future.”

Additional recommendations on more complex system-reform issues are likely, especially solutions intended to address inequity.

“The Post & Courier’s ‘Minimally Adequate’ series has set the stage for real reform to take place in South Carolina public education, and we cannot afford to squander the opportunity,” TCCC CEO John C. Read said. “These recommendations are first steps in the systems-change process. We intend to make additional policy and legislative recommendations, in partnership with grassroots community groups in the tri-county region, to the point of disruption.”

“The Teachers Voice for Change” event planned for Feb. 28

The College of Charleston’s School of Education, Health, and Human Performance is hosting an event at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 28 at the Rita Liddy Hollings Science Center, Room 101, for teachers to share their vision for the future of education.

Town hall scheduled in North Charleston for Feb. 11

A North Charleston Area Town Hall Meeting has been scheduled for 6:30-8 p.m. on February 11 at 4441 Durant Avenue to discuss closing the gap in the school district.

Rally for reform planned for Monday, Feb. 11

Regional school boards will hold a rally for reform at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 11 at Lightsey Chapel at Charleston Southern University (9200 University Blvd., North Charleston).

Come together for a public meeting with legislators, teachers, community members and parents to learn more about education reform in South Carolina. The event will feature:

  • In-depth discussion about the need for education reform
  • Individuals sharing real-life experiences
  • Questions and answers

The event is sponsored by the South Carolina School Board Association’s Region 1 (Beaufort, Colleton, Dorchester Two, Dorchester Four and Jasper) including Berkeley and Charleston.


National nonprofit StriveTogether awards $150,000 grant to TCCC

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative, a nonprofit dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in the region, has received $150,000 from StriveTogether, a national nonprofit working to bring communities together around data to make decisions and improve results for children.

TCCC will use the grant funds – in partnership with Father to Father Inc., Metanoia and Trident United Way – to ensure that the region’s students are ready for kindergarten by aligning organizations, individuals and resources and committing to a shared vision.

The grant is part of StriveTogether’s Cradle to Career Community Challenge, which seeks to create local change to enable economic mobility. The program’s goal is to strengthen and align the many systems, such as education, employment, health and housing, that shape opportunity for children and families in America.

“We appreciate StriveTogether’s financial support and confidence in our work,” said TCCC CEO John C. Read. “Although TCCC has begun the work of building the capacity of community-based organizations, the grant will help TCCC continue to infuse equity into the work and help deepen community engagement efforts by authentically engaging the region’s grassroots, parents and students.”

Since launching in 2018, the Community Challenge has committed to investing nearly $30 million in 35 communities over the next three years.

“StriveTogether launched the Cradle to Career Community Challenge because we refuse to settle for a world in which a child’s ability to thrive is dictated by factors like race or income,” StriveTogether President and CEO Jennifer Blatz said. “From partners across the country, we know the urgency of this work and the value of creating lasting change in communities.”

TCCC, a member of the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network, was selected for the Accelerator Fund of the Community Challenge. The Accelerator Fund will advance equity and systems change in communities that are close to achieving proof point, an important measure of progress along StriveTogether’s framework. The fund also provides an intensive leadership development program with targeted training and technical assistance.

You’re invited to attend Charleston Shared Future presentation on Monday

Over the past several months, about 30 individuals have been working to co-create a set of four scenarios about the future of education in Charleston County.

This community effort, called Charleston Shared Future, took into account previous studies, including the Clemson Study on Diversity and Inclusion, The Post and Courier’s “Minimally Adequate” series, The Avery Institute’s Racial Disparity Study, the 1998 Harvard Study on Charleston’s Education System, the recent Charleston County School District (CCSD) strategic plan and other relevant data and experiences.

After several months of work, the four scenarios are ready to be shared.

Community members are invited to the Charleston Shared Future Scenario Team’s initial presentation to the CCSD Board of Trustees from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, January 28 at Burke High School. Click here to reserve your seat.

Additionally, the Charleston Shared Future team will host community conversation sessions for citizens to speak with members of the team. Those sessions will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, January 29 at the following locations:

  • Ashley River Creative Arts School – 1841 Wallace School Rd, Charleston
  • Stall High School – 3625 Ashley Phosphate Rd, North Charleston
  • Wando High School – 1000 Warrior Way, Mt. Pleasant
  • St. Johns High School – 1518 Main Road, Johns Island

Space may be limited at each site, so attendees are encouraged to reserve a spot in advance.

For questions or additional information, please visit