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Clemson Report Offers Recommendations

Clemson report offers CCSD Board recommendations on equity and inclusion

(Charleston - August, 2018) - Representatives from Clemson University’s Office of Inclusion and Equity shared with the Charleston County School Board Monday (Aug. 27) their findings from their Diversity and Inclusion Study on the District.

The Board contracted with Clemson in December 2017, and in the months since, this group conducted interviews and discussions with a wide range of CCSD stakeholders, including teachers, students, district personnel, and community members. They researched and analyzed issues related to diversity, inclusion, and sources of tension throughout the district.

Clemson’s recommendations

  • Close the gaps in performance and achievement
  • Reform the system to ensure access to quality schools
  • Engage community stakeholders
  • Restructure utilizing the 2020 school improvement referendum as a catalyst to achieve equitable opportunities for all schools

Action to address inclusion and equity must be developed for inclusion in the CCSD Strategic Plan according to Lee A. Gill, Chief Inclusion and Equity Officer with Clemson University, who presented their findings during the meeting.

His report stressed the need to address the divide between high performing and low performing schools and said solutions must involve the wider community.

“Make school district governance more efficient, accountable and credible,” he said. That would involve addressing the effectiveness of magnet and choice programs with equitable access to high quality programs, he explained.

To restructure the district model, he suggested using a 2020 School Improvement Referendum as a catalyst to achieve equitable opportunity for all students.

The follow through

The report also called for follow through and gave some possible recommendations to be considered as part of the next step in the process. They also recommended that a team of experts be created to determine what resources and management authority is needed to improve the performance of students and will be presented within three months.

Greg Ladewski, also with Clemson’s Office of Inclusion and Equity, shared a list of potential actions and explained that realistic but firm timeframes will be used to show progress.

Intractable challenges

CCSD Chief Financial Officer Don Kennedy set the stage for the Clemson report by sharing with the Board the “intractable challenges” the district faces. Those include historically racial issues have not been adequately addressed within the school district. He explained that most issues (and even opportunities) have race as a component.

The challenges Kennedy shared include: The intractable challenges shared included: historical racial issues that have not been adequately addressed; the CCSD governance structure established by Act 340; the persistent low achievement for children of color and poverty; the geographic and economic diversity of the district; cycles of generational poverty; inadequate funding due to Act 388; resistance to change by the community; rapid expansion of school choice and charters leading to uneven educational opportunities; and lingering distrust. He shared that the area’s growing economy required a well-educated workforce, and that too many of the District’s students of color were not being prepared for those jobs.

These issues and the need to remedy them led to the contract between CCSD and Clemson.

Shared Future Project

The Board also received an update from Kennedy about the Shared Future Project, which is a process that is designed to integrate and build on results of CCSD initiatives such as the Clemson Study on Diversity and Inclusion, the Charleston County School District’s Strategic Plan, and Phase V of the Charleston County School Construction Plan, along with non-traditional approaches to education being discussed in the community, and required employment skills identified by the business community.

Once plans are identified and created, with assistance from the company Reos Partners, CCSD staff and community members will determine how to implement the plans that address the concerns addressed in Clemson University’s study.

According to Kennedy, funding will come from the CCSD procurement card (P- card) rebate program.

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