Your series, titled “Left Behind — The unintended consequences of school choice,” rightly highlights the unacceptable plight of students at some of the most challenged schools in the Charleston County School District. However, the series omits some critical facts and illogically implies that eliminating charter, magnet and other schools centered on specialized educational programs — which you define as “school choice” — will somehow solve this problem.
Funding is one of the biggest challenges for public schools. The fact is that South Carolina spends 5.1 percent less than we did seven years ago (in inflation adjusted dollars). We spend 11 percent less per student than the U.S. national average.
Let’s be logical: If we eliminate potential paths towards higher achievement offered by many public magnet and charter schools, families with the means to pay would opt for private schools. Making matters worse, high achieving students from families without the means to pay for private school would be left with no choice and fewer opportunities.
Let’s examine success stories as the path toward more success in the future. What about Meeting Street Academy and the Charleston Promise Neighborhood schools — which also meet your definition of “schools of choice”?
How have those schools re-created the model for public education for some of Charleston’s most economically disadvantaged students?
Let’s highlight the need to support great teachers with great compensation. The preoccupation amongst some that we should pay as little as possible for public education has resulted in a shortage of qualified teachers.
Teachers are tasked with educating and inspiring the next generation, and yet many CCSD teachers have to hold second jobs just to get by.
Your “Left Behind” series is a well-intentioned start, but it is misleading.
Let’s highlight the facts and demand better funding.
Let’s build on our successes and develop a public school system with more specialized programs to attract and retain students — to create opportunities for all to succeed to the best of their abilities.
Let’s invest in what works.
Clifford C. Woods