Public education in South Carolina would be working just fine — if it were the early 20th century when farm workers were in demand.
But obviously, it isn’t, and that’s the reason Pamela Lackey and Mike Brenan are touting TransformSC, whose mission is to completely change the way students are being taught — elementary, middle and high school.
Both Mrs. Lackey, president of AT&T in South Carolina, and Mr. Brenan, president of BB&T in South Carolina, know firsthand how important it is to economic development for students to graduate from high school ready to work or continue their educations.
Sadly, Mrs. Lackey says, many are not.
“For us to hire one person, we have to interview 11,” she told us recently.
That needs to change. And fast.
As Mrs. Lackey and Mr. Brenan say in their column on today’s Commentary page, “We either transform education to prepare our kids to become good citizens and continue education that leads to the available jobs, or we condemn them and our state to mediocrity.”
She takes it farther. If South Carolina expects businesses in the state to grow and new businesses to come, it has to have a better educated workforce.
It sometimes seems educators produce a new approach to teaching every five minutes.
And it is discouraging when progress is incremental or when it doesn’t occur at all.
TransformSC is different, its advocates say, because it is driven by business leaders, policy makers, parents and students as well as teachers, school boards and school administrators.
And, they say, it is gaining traction with legislators of different stripes.
What TransformSC is not doing is trying to come up with one model for all schools. Just the opposite.
They want to help schools and school districts use different learning methods with only a handful of must-haves including collaborative study, technology and individualized assignments. No classrooms will operate the way they did 50 or 100 years ago. It doesn’t work for today.
Edward McMullen Jr., a Columbia publicist who is assisting the campaign, said the Charleston County and Dorchester 2 school districts are already taking steps toward tailoring education to prepare children for today’s workplace.
On Wednesday at an education summit in Columbia, 35 schools will be introduced that have been selected to be partners with TransformSC in designing how the future of education will look. That number is expected to include a school in Berkeley County.
It is encouraging that business heavyweights are giving their time and energy to TransformSC.
South Carolina needs a school system that works better to produce good citizens with skills to fuel the economy.
And the state can use all the help it can get in working toward that goal.