As a retired educator and an active member of Students First, my efforts have been entirely focused upon addressing the educational inequity that exists for the marginalized children and families who must attend schools that exist within our nation’s poorest rural or inner-city locations. A brief Google search indicates that the parents and students living in Texas, California, North Dakota, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio and South Carolina are facing dire consequences as they all have been found guilty of inequitable educational underfunding. Court decisions have deemed their methods of funding public education as unconstitutional.
Our failure to nurture and optimize human potential inherent to every student who must attend an underfunded and marginalized school is shameful. In light of the professional work I did on behalf of the these impoverished student bodies, including children who were abused, neglected or dealing with familial mental health or substance abuse issues, it seemed to me that the term “education lottery” could at times have a sinister overtone.
That is why I want to encourage our elected leaders to consider adopting an Achievement School District Model in South Carolina. This model would allow us to take the lowest performing schools, the bottom 5 percent, and place them in a “turnaround” school district — free from the politics and bureaucracy of local districts. The individual schools are tasked with creating personalized cultures of hope and success; their students begin to make dramatically accelerated gains over the course of several years.
Equal treatment through public schools does not always ensure fairness because it disregards the extras needed by those who are born into unimaginable circumstances. Ignoring our social responsibilities in these areas turns a blind eye to the human potential that resides within every child.
Access to more personalized education would be a “socially responsible” undertaking, designed to ensure that every student who crosses the threshold of a S.C. school would have an equitable opportunity to optimize his inherent human potential.