Tag Archives: Educational Effectiveness

Schools rake in fake awards

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Taxpayer-funded “publicists” at the SC Department of Education like to use “awards” as a measure of public school “success.”

In the first four months of 2009, there were 20 press releases issued by the department that included the term “award” in the title or first sentence.

The problem is that many awards and accolades are not actually tied to student achievement, and some seem designed to distract from a school’s performance failures by improving parents’ perceptions of the school.

Here are two recent examples:

Allendale Elementary School

In March, Allendale Elementary School was awarded “a gold certificate and banner by USDA Food and Nutrition Service Southeast Regional Administrator Donald E. Arnette for meeting USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge

“The HealthierUS School Gold award is one of the highest honors a school nutrition program can achieve and reflects a strong commitment to provide students with additional healthy food options throughout the school campus, and to emphasize nutrition education and physical activity in the school curriculum.”

Allendale Elementary is classified by the State and Federal governments as a “persistently failing school” and has again been identified this school year as “at-risk.” There are 569 students forced to attend this failing public school. Continue reading

Parents are Talking, Are Lawmakers Listening? (VIDEO)

Dozens of parents have testified before state senators about the need families have for real school choice, and thousands more have visited the Statehouse over the last three years to plead with lawmakers for a fair chance at quality education.

Private school educatorshome school parents and public school parents have pointed out example after example of children with educational needs that local public schools are unable, or unwilling to meet.

Lawmakers, like State Senator Robert Ford, have pointed out the injustice of confining thousands of children to failing public schools, with no education, and no hope for anything better.

Even in front of the parents pleading with the state senate for help, education officials and establishment insiders stand up and try to divert lawmakers’ attention away from parents, and back to the wants of the establishment.

Lawmakers need to listen to the people in their districts who want real choices, and act accordingly.

Parents head to Columbia, demand School Choice

Melissa Melvin, a parent from York County, testifies before the SC Senate K-12 Education Subcommittee about her personal experiences dealing with the public school system in South Carolina. Like dozens of other parents, she wanted lawmakers to know that families across the State expect public policies which put students first.

Learn more about S.520, the Education Opportunity Act here.

Adam Schaeffer on School Choice

While embittered bureaucrats insist that giving parents real school choice is “experimental” and “dangerous,” other states are showing the tremendous benefits of school choice in improved academics, cost savings and increased equity in education.

Adam Schaeffer, of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, urged the SC Senate K-12 Education Subcommittee to look at the documented success of school choice in other states, and to adopt legislation that would help families in South Carolina.

More than anything, South Carolina lawmakers need to bear in mind that school choice is a reform measure that families in their districts want. Thousands of families have rallied at the state capitol in support of school choice on two occasions. Just last week hundreds more parents, students and educators came to make their need for choice known to state senators.

Lawmakers have no excuse to put off passing school choice in South Carolina. The data showing its benefits are clear, and more importantly, it is what many South Carolina families want.

73,000 students trapped in failing SC schools

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This school year 185 public schools across South Carolina were ranked as “failing.”

These types of under-performing schools were once called “F-schools” but they were later renamed “unsatisfactory.” Now, in the new politically correct edu-speak of Jim Rex, they are merely called “at-risk” by the State Department of Education.

No matter what you call them, these schools are primarily attended by low-income and minority children. In fact, 92% of the 73,722 students at failing schools come from low-income families and 77% are African-American.

Not only are these groups of students the most under-served in the public schools system, they are also the least likely to be able to make a real choice to attend a school other than their local public school. Their parents simply lack the money to move to a different attendance zone or enroll their children in private school. These kids are trapped (and the problem is not lack of government resources). Continue reading

Demand for Montessori shows need for School Choice

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Private Montessori schools build on decades of success as the one-size-fits-all public system struggles to catch up.

Montessori programs in public schools around the state rate high with parents. Now public school districts are looking for ways to accommodate all the students who want to participate.

Charleston parents are particularly eager to have their children enrolled in the Charleston School District’s Montessori Community School. Unfortunately, limited space has resulted in a short list of enrolled students, and a much longer list of disappointed students hoping for the chance to attend.

Through letter writing, and clamoring at school board meetings, engaged parents have been voicing their desire for expanded access to this type of educational program. According to Dr. Nancy McGinley, the Charleston school superintendent, “Wherever we have Montessori, we have a waiting list.”

Unfortunately, interest from parents has been able to generate only so much response from school districts. The high cost of purchasing Montessori materials, and training and certifying teachers in the method, can make it hard for schools to get Montessori programs parents want up and running.

There is obviously a huge desire among parents for Montessori education, and limited availability of the programs at local public schools.

This is where school choice comes in. Continue reading

Senator Kevin Bryant Calls Out School Choice Critics

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Excuses for denying parents real educational options are getting harder and harder to come by. The “old stand-by” lines of bureaucrats and political insiders invested in the status quo are simply not able to stand up to the fact that school choice really works. Other states ( with higher performing public schools) have instituted choice programs that have helped many thousands of families. Despite this, the managers of the nation’s most consistently underperforming public education system insist that they are more qualified than parents to decide how children should be educated.

Thankfully, some state lawmakers in South Carolina are refusing to be pushed around by baseless arguments from the education establishment. In the face of intense opposition, Democratic Senator Robert Ford has demanded school choice options for families. Likewise, Republican Senator Kevin Bryant ( Anderson, SC) has refused to back down from giving all children access to a quality education.

In a strongly-worded guest column in The State, Senator Bryant uses the experience of choice in other states to dismantle the arguments that school choice will not help “poor kids,” and that corporations and individuals will not step forward to contribute to Student Scholarship Organizations.

This from Senator Bryant’s column-

” This is real school choice, and detractors are attacking it by saying it “won’t help poor kids” because there is “no guarantee” private companies and individuals will support scholarships for low-income, mostly minority students.

There are no guarantees in Pennsylvania either, but since its inception, the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program has seen more than 3,200 companies pledge donations, and sent more than $350 million to some 600 scholarship-granting organizations. A key provision of the S.C. legislation is modeled after this successful program.

In the current school year, this investment in academic freedom has funded more than 50,000 scholarships to poor, at-risk students in Pennsylvania.

That’s 50,000 students getting a fresh start — and $300 million freed up within the public system to educate a smaller number of students.

In 2007, 62 corporations gave $14 million to student tuition organizations in Arizona, and 20,000 scholarships were made available for low-income students in Florida.”

Senator Bryant also calls out those who use personal attacks to oppose educational options for parents. Continue reading