According to a press release sent out by the SC Dept of Education, the SC Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (SCGSSM) has been named by Newsweek to be among the “Top Twenty Elite Public High Schools” in the nation. This is the fourth year in a row that the South Carolina public school has been on the prestigious list.
Every year, hundreds of high school sophomores apply to the school, but only 64 of the best and brightest students are accepted.
For two years, students at the SCGSSM study in a rigorous, academics-focused environment. Needless to say, graduates are well prepared to enter the best colleges and universities.
This is a tremendous opportunity for the handful of students who enter, and graduate from the SCGSSM every year, and the impressive accomplishments of many of the alumni speak volumes about the benefits of good instruction and focused environment.
Unfortunately, there are many students in South Carolina-with the same potential to excel- who have fallen by the wayside in one-size-fits-all public schools. In fact, more students drop out of South Carolina public schools every day than graduate from SCGSSM in two years.
If this method of student-tailored education is so highly successful, wouldn’t it make sense to expand similar options to as many students as possible? There are many private schools around the state that provide a quality education for far less money than the state spends per-student, but for a variety of reasons, many families still cannot access them or move to a better-performing school district.
A child who has been enrolled in a chronically failing public school for years cannot hope to compete with students whose parents had the opportunity to enroll them in the better performing public schools South Carolina has to offer. There is little chance that a student from a failing school environment will have the academic foundation to take advantage of opportunities like the SCGSSM.
It is time that South Carolina started doing what works.
Through school choice, and specifically the Education Opportunity Act, more South Carolina families can hope for access to the type of education that will give their children the opportunity to learn and compete.
Student Scholarship Organizations exist specifically to help low-income families put their children into schools that they could not otherwise hope to attend. This mechanism has benefitted thousands of families in Pennsylvania and Florida, and will certainly do the same in South Carolina.
The SCGSSM should be praised for its successes, and those successes should in turn motivate our state leaders to replicate them as much as possible.