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POSTED: May 11, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Richmond Hill teacher to run for BoE

RHHS teacher Charles Blakewood has announced he is running for the Bryan County School Board at the upcoming Republican primary; his goal being to fill the seat vacated by Mr. Scott Morton. Mr. Blakewood, who has been working in the Richmond Hill school system for nine years now, and who worked as a businessman before this, says his main goal is to remedy what he sees to be too much focus on test scores and less emphasis on educating well-rounded high school graduates. I questioned Mr. Blakewood further to find out more about his motives for running, and what his views are on some of the hot button issues our community is dealing with.

Q: Why exactly do you want to run for a place on the school board?

A: One day while in the teacher workroom, I read a poster on the bathroom wall: ‘The purpose of education is not to teach students what to think, but to teach them how to think, and, if possible, to think for themselves.’ I was amazed that such a sentiment had been placed upon a wall of our school - it doesn’t match the system culture. The concern and seeming preoccupation with test scores, especially on block scheduling wherein the teacher and the student have less time to transfer knowledge necessary for the tests, leaves too many students behind in overall development of their reasoning and cognitive skills.

Q: What is your position on the merging of the TP and CP diploma tracks?

A: College Prep and Advanced Placement courses are not for every student. Many students would achieve more and be interested more if we offered a real vocational curriculum, similar to Effingham and Chatham counties. The notion of putting CP and Tech Prep kids in the same curriculum track in the same classroom as they enter our high schools as freshmen, with no separate vocational classes for the Techies, will be a dismal failure. Test scores and ‘achievement’, which are too important to administrators already, will drop.

Q: Why do you believe the merge will not be a success?

A: The reality of the classroom dynamic demonstrates that the higher achievers will under-achieve rather than the group of former Techies rising to the occasion and achieving at a better, measurable rate when grouped with College Prep kids. The college bound kids will, for the most part, do enough to earn a B so they will qualify for HOPE. The Techies will be uninspired without the availability of a real vocational activity and will drop out at a more rapid rate or underachieve more frequently when placed with former College Prep kids, I know that this view is not in keeping with the educational mantra that all children can achieve - though it is technically accurate that they can. In a more challenging curriculum of no interest to the Tech Prep students of old, they will surely, overall as a group, achieve at a level below the raised expectations of administrators.

Q: What will be your main goals if elected?

A: The persons responsible for the change to block scheduling and for the merging of CP and TP tracks are out of touch with the real experience in a real classroom. Block scheduling and the move to a combination of TP and Cp tracks will be my primary concern if elected to the Board. I will outline further important goals in Letters to the Editor prior to the primary.

- by Stephen Hundley

Actions always speak more loudly than words

People are going to complain. It’s practically an American pastime to pick at the government, be it on a city wide scale or national. I believe it’s why our government has lasted, and thrived, for so long, because it is under constant scrutiny. The ruling body can’t get away with much before they’re bombarded with grievances from the general public. But the important thing is we grow from it. If people didn’t fight ‘the man’ from time to time crucial things like civil rights, universal suffrage, and countless other tweaks to our nation would have never happened.

How does this apply to Bryan County? The school board is, has been, and hopefully will always be, the center of mass criticism. Just like our national government, I believe we’re better for it. Examples could be that our students now have a driver’s education class with an instructional car. It’s important that we, as a community, raise our complaints and concerns to the Board regarding their policies and decisions to make sure the will of the people who elected them is achieved; a prime example of this could be the constant debate over school uniforms.

As long as people are taking action, government is at work, and the people are taking part in and becoming active in their community, which is always a good thing. What I hate to see is ‘finger pointing’, when people just sit back and throw stones without any plan for change or improvement. I admire people like Mr. Blakewood who see a problem, create a plan of action, and act on it. I have a lot of respect for Mr. Blakewood for standing up for what he feels to be in the best interest of students not only in my school, but the county over.



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