An article in The Post and Courier describes the Charleston County School District’s efforts to cut expenditures during a time of projected shortfalls.
In the article, various Charleston County residents lament potential school closings and affirm their commitment to keeping the schools open.
While some of these schools may be a long-time part of local communities and provide fond memories for certain graduates, many are not fulfilling their purpose of effectively educating students.
One Wadmalaw Island resident said of Frierson Elementary School-
‘It’s everything to us,’ she said. ‘Taking the school away from us is like taking a member of a family away. It’s like dismantling a community. That’s what keeps us together.’”
This is an understandable sentiment, but is not supported by an objective look at the school’s educational quality.
According the State Department of Education’s website, Frierson has been given an absolute rating as “Below Average” for several years running, and the situation is not improving. Improvement ratings for the elementary school have been dubbed “Unsatisfactory” or “Below Average” for the last five years.
PACT scores for students are correspondingly low, with only 29.3% of students proficient or advanced in English/Language Arts. Mathematics scores show that only 18.9% of test takers are proficient or advanced. In Science, over 66% of test-takers were graded “Below Basic.”
The children attending Frierson deserve better.
This is not the educational foundation that will allow students at Frierson to move on to higher grades with success. The school’s open failure at properly educating the children – whose futures depend on good instruction – gives no justification for the school to remain open.
Schools that do not perform their mission should not stay around indefinitely to handicap the students whose zip code mandates they attend there. Romantic memories can not justify inadequate education.
Parents, legislators and educators need to decide what is most important: children, or school buildings?
A $20 million budget shortfall (a tiny 5% of the district’s $390 million budget) gives Charleston County officials the perfect opportunity to start weeding out schools that chronically fail the children entrusted to them.
UPDATE: read about more proposed school closings in Charleston here.