Commentary: Charleston schools must change culture to challenge inequities

By Elise Davis McFarland and Cynthia Mann, Post and Courier

An Aug. 5 article in The Post and Courier reports that educational equity in Charleston-area schools “remains an issue,” based on a survey of parents in the tri-county area showing 54% believe that all students have an equal opportunity for a “quality” education. Forty-four percent of black parents say the system is “broken.”

The story’s newsworthiness was driven by the fact that the COVID pandemic will only worsen existing inequality, but the story does not get close to the heart of the problem. Instead, it has Teach for America’s Courtney Waters, a candidate for the Charleston County School Board, telling us the “first step toward a solution” lies in bringing conversations about race and equity to the surface. We couldn’t agree more.

‘We are not going to go away.’ Faith-based group, superintendent in standoff over suspensions.

November 26, 2019. Kentucky.com

A disagreement between a Lexington faith-based organization and Fayette Superintendent Manny Caulk came to a head at this week’s school board meeting as group leaders repeated a charge that Caulk had ignored their requests to consider a proposed solution to the disproportionate suspensions of black students.

“We turned out tonight because we are tired of being ignored,” said Rev. Joseph Owens, co-President of the organization called BUILD, Building a United Interfaith Lexington through Direct-Action. BUILD members say they have been trying get a meeting with Caulk since January 2019.

20 more JCPS schools to train in restorative practices for student behavior

November 25, 2019. The Courier-Journal.

Jefferson County Public Schools will expand its restorative practice efforts to another 20 schools before the start of the 2020-21 school year, the district announced Monday. 

Teachers and administrators at about 30 JCPS schools have been trained in restorative practices — a research-backed method to improve behavior and increase student belonging and relationships.

CLOUT, a social justice-centered organization, has pushed JCPS to implement restorative practices for a decade. Superintendent Marty Pollio promised the group that the district will have restorative practices in all 155 schools within six years. 

Parents push Pinellas Schools to speed up ‘restorative practices’

November 12, 2019. WTSP.COM

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A grassroots group of concerned parents, grandparents and career educators stood in support of one another at Tuesday’s Pinellas County School Board meeting. Each of them are members of F.A.S.T. (Faith and Action for Strength Together) and came to voice concerns over the school district’s implementation of, what is known as, “restorative practices.”

It’s the social science that studies how to strengthen relationships between individuals and social connections within communities, according to the International Institute for Restorative Practices.

The IIRP says, in schools that fully implement restorative practices, student arrest and suspension — and overall racial disparities in discipline — go down. Restorative practices are also said to increase a feeling of safety among teachers and reduce teacher turnover.

Hundreds attend Charleston Area Justice Ministry assembly to discuss community problems

November 5, 2019. CountOnNews2.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Hundreds of community members attend the Charleston Area Justice Ministry’s 2019 Community Problems assembly to discuss issues in the Charleston area.

CAJM is a faith-based organization comprised of many different Christian, Jewish, and Unitarian members. Their mission is to “come together to make the Charleston area a more just place to live, work, and do business.”

Tonight’s assembly addressed four different areas in the community that CAJM feels need attention: Education, Policing, Housing and Transportation.