Prisons pick up slack for public schools

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At least now he might get his diploma.

Lawmakers are looking toward central planning as the solution to the state’s economic woes.

The more fundamental issue they ought to address is the quality of our state’s workforce.

Why would any company look to move to, or expand in, South Carolina, a state with a national reputation for ineffective public schooling?

And the reputation is well deserved. Consider the fact that 158 students drop out of South Carolina’s public schools each and every school day.

The officially reported drop rate is “just” 32.9 percent, but national experts at Education Week have demonstrated this to be false.

With an on-time graduation rate of 55.6 percent, South Carolina is not only among the worst states in the nation, it is also home to the country’s most inaccurate reporting data.

Now there is a glimmer of hope!

According to a press release by the SC Department of Corrections, the prison system is hard at work where the State Department of Education has failed.


Of roughly 24,000 inmates at the S.C. Department of Corrections, about 60 percent never finished high school. The average inmate didn’t complete the eleventh grade. But entering prison without an education doesn’t mean an individual has to leave without one.

Since its inception in 1981, the Palmetto Unified School District has provided classroom and vocational education to thousands of men and women, many who have gone on to live productive and crime-free lives.

The Corrections press release further notes that since 2002, 6,233 inmates earned a GED and 11,545 earned a vocational certificate.

Sadly, South Carolina leads the nation in violent crime, which begins to explain why over 23,000 South Carolinians are sitting in a state jail right now. But the real issue is that criminality and incarceration have a heavy correlation with educational attainment.

A 2007 SC Policy Council report found that higher levels of incarceration meant that each class of dropouts costs the prison system $3 million every year. This only includes direct spending on prison, not the cost to the economy of under-educated workers and the fiscal impact of street crime.

While is heartening to hear some dropouts are getting a second chance at education within the prison system, this expensive endeavor is too little too late.

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4 responses to “Prisons pick up slack for public schools

  1. Elizabeth Moultrie

    Perhaps if South Carolina fired principals who say things like, “You’ve got to give these kids something,” rather than making these “kids” earn something education might get better. We need to get back to basics and also realize that all children are NOT the same and don’t learn the same way. My children are home schooled because I want to be sure that the earn the grades they get … and that they are actually learning something more than how to make babies and apply for welfare.

  2. I think parents should have a choice as to where they send their children to school. There are probably hundreds of reasons that could be given for the failing of South Carolina Schools, but the fact of the matter is that: THEY ARE FAILING.
    If a parent wants to send his or her child to a progressive educational system, they should have that privilige and they should receive a voucher from the government that equals the tax paid to educate a child in a public school. They should not be penalized to pay for the failing public government controlled schools with a ciriculum that is not preparing kids to meet the real world.

  3. Jennifer Jeancake

    I retired from S.C. public schools in 2006 and have been teaching in the Adult Education program for the past two years helping individuals obtain GED diplomas. One of my sites is an evening program at an SCDC pre-release facility. I am passionate about my work and have seen a tremendous success rate. This job has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done because it helps people who want an education and who appreciate a second chance to get a diploma. Thank God for the opportunity and for the honor of using my education and skills to help others help themselves. My students and I don’t feel that what we’re doing is “too little, too late”; we think our program is “right on time” and we are very thankful.We feel that everyone deserves a second chance.

  4. I think it’s great that you’re helping give people a second chance with school. I think the point is that our education system is letting too many people fall through the cracks in the first place

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