Civil rights groups demand action on failing schools

April 20 15:57 2019 Print This Article

Two civil rights groups assembled Saturday to demand action on the nine Charleston County School District (CCSD) schools classified by the South Carolina Department of Education as chronically failing. Beverly Burch, from the Tri-County National Action Network, opened the program in front of the CCSD headquarters stating, “The disparities in CCSD did not happen overnight, and they are by design. We can’t wait another 10 or 12 years to improve the neglected schools.”

High school senior Ke’Von Singleton, the founder of Lowcountry Students for Political Action, said that CCSD has neglected to provide equity to students for generations. The award-winning documentary film-maker said, “Equity is giving everyone what they need to be successful.” Singleton noted that students living in poverty need more support services than other students. Singleton teamed with Malik Hubbard to produce a documentary on how the the Coca-Cola company pushed Atlanta leaders to cooperate with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the civil rights movement. He is attending Morehouse University in Atlanta in the fall.

National Action Network leader Elder James Johnson said that maintaining the status quo in CCSD is not an option. Only 1.2% of 5th graders at Chicora Elementary in North Charleston met SC Ready grade level standards in math last year. Most of the North Charleston elementary schools have fewer than 10% of students performing at grade level in reading. Johnson said, “We need to come together in unity. We are not going to accept all of these failing schools.” Johnson noted the correlation between failing schools, poverty and crime.

Many of the speakers Saturday criticized the Charleston County School Board for failing to act on behalf of the high-poverty schools. Pastor Thomas Dixon, a 2019 candidate for Mayor of North Charleston said, “They (the school board) have ignored us for 10 years. We’re not going to be neglected anymore.” Dixon urged voters to defeat school board members who have not acted to improve the North Charleston schools, which represent eight of the nine schools in CCSD designated as failing.