Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Will Mt Pleasant's gated communities secede from CCPS?

Mount Pleasant has a rich cultural history. It was once a mecca for African-American musicians from Count Basie and Louie Armstrong to B.B. King and James Brown. There's no sign of that now, as all those musical landmarks have been replaced by manicured right-of-ways and gated communities. Still, realtors in Mount Pleasant boast, "...[T]here is a certain look and feel to Mt. Pleasant that people seem to find attractive that is difficult to explain."

Mt. Pleasant is home to more luxury communities than other Charleston areas. Recently developed I’on has received natural acclaim for it’s [sic] blend of historic Charleston architecture, a historic district look, and integrated shopping and dining. In spite of zero lot lines and escalating prices, homes in I’on never stay on the market long. Mt. Pleasant in stretching northward past Hwy 41 with homes ranging in price from the high 200’s to well over $1 million.

Mm, tres chic.

The Charleston City Paper reports that some of Mount Pleasant newer residents are dissatisfied with being part of Charleston County -- more specifically, part of the Charleston County Public Schools -- and they're reaching into South Carolina's past for a solution to their dissatisfaction: Secession.

Parents at a public-input meeting for Charleston County School District Monday night proposed making Mt. Pleasant its own school district, an idea that has been bandied about in the past.

Lynn Franchak, who has children attending Cario Middle School and Wando High School, was the first to propose the idea of a Mt. Pleasant school district in her brainstorming group. She says parents have been talking about it since her family arrived in the town six years ago.

"We've worked hard to build a nice life and live where we do and pay the taxes that we do," Franchak said. "We feel that this town is large enough to support its own school district. I also feel as though being part of the Charleston County School District, it brings our standardized test numbers down, it brings our attendance down, it brings our graduation rates down, and so we hurt because of that."

Understandably, no one wants to be "brought down." Perhaps it's true that parents in Charleston's other municipalities aren't excited about having average or below-average standardized test scores, or attendance rates, or graduation rates. It may be that those schools 'cross the river need a few more resources to help raise their results. Might additional tax revenue from the gated enclaves of Mount Pleasant help lift all boats?

Coincidentally, one parent did propose raising taxes to support education, although his idea was not voted to be one of the top recommendations.

Apparently not. Easier to draw some new lines, keep in the luxury and keep out the needy.

The article notes that about 50 parents were split into two "focus groups" at the meeting, and the groups brainstormed a set of recommendations for the county board of education. After "narrowing" the list, it included these:

• Expand the elementary schools' third-grade academies.

• Keep a focus on literacy and expand professional development for teachers who teach reading skills.

• Expand pre-kindergarten programs.

• Stop over-testing to allow more time for instruction.

• Encourage vocational education as well as college-oriented instruction.

• Stop teaching to the standardized tests.

• Consider Montessori school models.

• Keep fine arts.

• Keep physical education.

• Consider improving technology to move toward paperless classrooms.

• Shrink class sizes.

• Improve teachers' pay.

More of these sessions are scheduled, so we may hear more talk of secession, and more about the Mount Pleasant residents suffering from being part of the Charleston County Public Schools.

The public is invited to attend sessions at James Island Charter High School (Jan. 23 at 6 p.m.), Stall High School (Feb. 13 at 6 p.m.), and Burke High School (Feb. 27 at 6 p.m.).


  1. I enjoyed reading this and give you a big thumbs up. Mount Pleasant should not succeed and disassociate itself from the real world.
    The entire system needs to be reviewed. The PASS tests are making money for testing companies but everyone else is totally demoralized by them. The number one issue at the meeting was not the re-zoning of districts. It was the ditching of standardized tests. Interesting that that's not what the main headline addresses at all.

  2. Great blog! I found your link from the Charleston City Paper online article. My comment there apparently was deleted. Someone must not have liked it when I said I was surprised Mt. P. didn't ask for Daniel Island schools to be incorporated into their ideal school district.

  3. How about having higher expectations from the schools 'cross the river? Why is it that the people who are actually following "the rules of the game" are always portrayed as the bad guys?