The SC Public School Machine doesn’t like competition.
Nationwide, charter schools are changing the way parents think about public schooling.
While charter schools receive some local, state and federal funding they enjoy much greater independence than traditional public schools in developing their own curriculum, instructional techniques and organizational structure.
Over the last decade, charters schools have shown that this type of autonomy and innovation can lead to very dramatic results. Nationally, students in charter schools mirror their public school peers demographically but consistently outperform them in academic achievement. The unique status of these schools allows for responsive classrooms but they still remain limited by their dependence on the public school system, which often works to stifle their growth by limiting their student pools and diverting funds from them.
A recent Greenville News article entitled “District bans charter school recruiting” examines the tension in Greenville, South Carolina’s largest public school district. In Greenville, district bureaucrats have prevented charter school officials from addressing public school students on campus about their charter school options:
The unwillingness of the district to allow charter schools to make presentations to district students has raised concerns from the Middle College National Consortium and the Gates Foundation, which has provided grant money for the charter schools, Crawford said.
“The relationship with the local school district continues to pose challenges,” a delegation from the national consortium wrote in a report to Greenville Tech Charter High [GTCHS]. “Most pressing is the school district’s reluctance to permit GTCHS access to their students to inform students and parents about your high school program. Numerous efforts have been made to bridge this gap. What other steps could you take?”
Charter schools are an important part of the statewide child-centered model of educational choice that families in South Carolina deserve. The efforts of school district administrators to block access, withhold resources and censor information about the charters is a shameful indictment of their willingness to the put the district’s bureaucratic largess before the best interest of the children and parents they claim to serve.
As the economist Andrew Coulson explains:
If we really want to serve the public interest, we will stop assigning children to government schools based on where they live, and ensure that all families can easily choose from among a variety of public and private educational options. That way, no entrenched monopolist will be able to put its own interests ahead of childrens’ interests, as Greenville’s school district is currently doing.