I have been following The Post and Courier’s reporting on the possibility of closing small schools in Charleston County School District in an attempt to plug up the gaping hole created by the mismanagement of public funds, resulting in an $18 million shortfall. I keep seeing the same cost per pupil figures on these small schools: $23,878 for Lincoln High and $20,422 for Jane Edwards.
What I don’t see is an itemizing of these figures. Before we talk about closing schools, can we look at how we can save within each school? My guess, for example, is that there are specialists and coaches who can be eliminated and more collaboration among seasoned and rookie teachers encouraged.
What about allowing these schools to be all-purpose community facilities? Why not use some of that square footage for government offices, law enforcement satellite offices and clinics? We use them for voting. Why not expand on that?
There are two elephants in the room that need to be considered: One is the morass of charter schools, magnet schools, private/public ventures, and anything else that citizens can conjure up to avoid truly integrating our school system. Let’s face it: We are right back where we started from after Brown vs Board of Education.
There is no commitment to truly integrate our schools and offer equal opportunities across the board. We’ve tried neighborhood schools, busing and choice. It costs a lot of money to maintain a dual school system. Secondly, we must take a long, hard look at the constituent school district system. If we are serious about saving money, this sacred cow must be sacrificed.
Finally, let’s stop labeling schools. Let’s own up to the fact that teachers can do but so much. Teachers are not miracle workers. Parents must do a better job of preparing their children for school way before they show up.
Poor and rich parents alike can do this: Read to the little ones — anything: labels, magazines, advertising circulars, and, of course, books. Get off the cell phone. Look your child in the eyes and converse with him. That costs nothing and can go a long way in preparing a child for school.
Count steps; read the numbers on the microwave; read the numbers on your precious cell phone. Take a field trip in your back yard. Help teachers help your child.
Contact your school board representatives and let them know that you are interested in preserving your school. Otherwise, it’s back to the back of the bus for you, for a longer ride.
Shelia L. Anderson