Charter Schools and School Choice in South Carolina from a Parent Perspective

(This is a post from my older blog, just posted a month or so ago.)

For months, money has been funneled into South Carolina from New York and others States by individuals that are looking to help South Carolina jump on the school choice ban wagon by padding the pockets of our legislators.  As a PSA, I am not saying anything that has not been in the press in South Carolina over the past several weeks so before you hit me with your thoughts, please know this.  I have no problems with charter schools and school choice.  Let me expand on what I see as an issue.  Charter schools are schools that write their own charter, or rules.  They have a board of directors that makes decisions about the education of their students.  From my understanding, if you have a child that is struggling, has an IEP, or does not do well in unstructured environments, charter schools may not be the best choice for your child.  If you do not have your own transportation, can not afford to pack your child’s lunch everyday, or can’t get your child to and from school on time every day, you should not choose a charter school because they do not provide transportation or a lunch room.  With school choice, we run into the issue of if you choose to drive your child to another county for school, that’s the catch, you have to transport your own child and you have to pay what ever the student base cost is for your child to attend that school district.

So what does this mean, when we think of school, we have gone through years of segregation and years of the haves versus the have nots.  With these proposed changes in South Carolina, you will have more segregation as well as more people that can afford to come in and pay the base cost for a district, doing such and those that do not have the finances or resources to drive their child to this school, pack a lunch five days a week for that school, and just plain old can not send their child any where but public school are left out.  It is truly the haves versus the have nots.

Just recently according to the Post and Courier out of Charleston, SC, our state lawmakers have adopted H. 3241 which stands to strengthen public charter schools.  What does this mean?  It means that now there can be single-gender public charter schools, higher educations institutions to sponsor public charter schools, charter school board members to serve more than a one-year term, that public charter school students be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities, including athletics, at their neighborhood public school if the charter school does not have a team for them to participate in, and the list goes on and on.  So where does our Governor stand, she plans to sign this given that her children attend public school.

Now, I am a firm proponent for supporting public schools.  South Carolina has a high unemployment rate close to nine percent.  No matter how you cut it, it’s close to nine percent.  Charter schools and school choice do not mean that your child will get a better education.  I repeat, charter schools and school choice do not mean that your child will get a better education.  I am a parent that has three children all with varying learning styles, disabilities, and just plain different personalities.  Even if they were completely normal, I would not allow my children to go to charter, private, or other county schools.  The reality is that the schools in my community need my support.  They need parents that are there for them and are ready to rally for them.  I attended public schools and I feel that I got a great education.  I attend public schools here in South Carolina and I know that I got a wonderful education.

In closing, as parents we have to support our schools and make sure that if you want a charter school or another school choice option, pay for it yourself.  Our tax dollars should not go towards you moving your child from school to school to school to chase the education that you feel your child is not getting.  I have seen far too many parents that have uprooted, sold their houses, and moved to other towns chasing that perfect education that if they would spend time learning what the standards are for our state and put in some extra work like parents that can’t uproot and move have to do.

As Curtis LeMay has stated on Facebook: “four of South Carolina’s lowest performing schools are charters; private schools are purely buyer-beware with dozens of them failing their students miserably”.  Different doesn’t always mean better!


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