Backlash rolls in after CCSD board member speaks out about Burke High

Backlash rolls in after CCSD board member speaks out about Burke High

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Some major pushback is coming after a Charleston County School Board member said he was ready to pull the plug on Burke High School.

CCSD board member Todd Garrett told the Charleston Chronicle this month about the state of academic performance at the school after watching the school’s graduation.

“My intent in reaching out to the editor of the Chronicle was to highlight to him, look at the results were getting for kids,” Garrett said. “I look at our results at this year's graduation, we're not doing better than they were 13 years ago when the state first tried to take it over.”

Garrett said only two of the more than 60 students who graduated had ACT scores indicating they were college ready. Garrett also said the average senior in the graduating class was reading at a 4th and 5th grade level.

Those data points have Burke foundation members and administrators frustrated.

“That is disrespectful. He never talked about the great accomplishments of the students,” Eric Jackson said in last week’s CCSD meeting. Jackson is on the Burke School Improvement Council.

“We got students graduating with college classes. We got a kid that graduated with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, and to get into newspaper and only talk about negative cherry picked data is an assault to the rest of the kids in D20,” Jackson said.

Since Jackson spoke up in last week’s meeting other people have come forward condemning Garrett’s comments.

“Encouraging students and welcoming them into a world where they are valued and can contribute are what board members and other leaders in the community should do,” Burke High School Foundation President Barbara Dilligard wrote in a letter.

Garrett said the school has wonderful staff and administrators, and said the intent is there. Garrett said the feeder pipeline of downtown schools isn’t properly preparing kids.

“This is not to pick on students. They were 5-years-old and in kindergarten when the district promised them and the community that they were going to turn things around,” Garrett said.

Garrett said he wants to see something happen to turn the state of Burke around, mentioning the idea of bringing a third-party operator in the run the school and get better results.

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