Parents in South Carolina want to have a say in where their children attend school, and some state employees who oppose the idea are scrambling to convince parents not to push for more options.
Spartanburg County has many public schools that outperform their counterparts in the state, but SAT scores show that achievement is still far behind similar districts in North Carolina. While many Spartanburg families are pleased with what local public schools have to offer, others prefer a private or Christian education for their children.
In a recent article in the Spartanburg Herald Journal, Spartanburg parent Brantlee Fulmer voiced her own concerns about where her three year old will attend school:
“ As a parent, I may or may not agree with the direction that a particular public school would go in…from a personal perspective, I prefer more of a Christian education. So, when the time comes I may choose to send my child to a Christian school.”
Regardless of how well a local public school may perform, parents still want to be empowered to make the choice that they think is best for their child.
One Superintendent in Spartanburg disagrees.
David White, Superintendent of Spartanburg School District 7, doesn’t understand why parents would look outside the public school system to have their children’s educational needs met. In the same article he indicates that taxpayers don’t need choices, because they already have them in local public schools. This from the article-
“White says his district supports school choice, in terms of choice within the public education system. He cites a Montessori program at E.P. Todd Elementary School, an International Baccalaureate program at Jesse Boyd Elementary School and the technology focus at Chapman Elementary School as examples of what’s offered.”
The “school choice” listed by White is confusing; as most people would consider the entire concept of choice to revolve around multiple options. Instead, White wants to tell the taxpayers who pay his salary that their choices and wants are unimportant, and that their concerns and priorities should be rearranged to fit into the framework he thinks is best. White embraces choices for parents, but only the pitiful non-choices that the education bureaucracy condescendingly tells taxpayers are enough.
In addition to telling parents that they do not have a sufficient understanding of education to decide what is best for their own children, White shows a remarkable lack of insight into school funding. Citing recent budget cuts as a handicap to local public schools, White goes on to state that parents having access to the schools they think are best will actually hurt education!
“Anything that further erodes those revenues will continue to degrade our ability to accomplish our mission in K-12 public education.”
So parental satisfaction with the school their child attends is out of keeping with the mission of public education?
To the contrary, this level of choice makes quality education more accessible to all the public, and even provides more resources for the students who remain in public schools.
White should be grateful for the children in Spartanburg County whose parents make use of home school and private school options. Because of the state’s funding mechanism, the schools White superintends receive $1,672 in Federal funding, and $7,922 in local funding for each student that he does not even have to educate!
The needs of taxpaying families should take precedence over the wants of bureaucrats. Fifteen other states have thriving school choice programs, which parents have rushed to participate in. Through comprehensive school choice, education in South Carolina can become a case study in success and innovation. Families deserve this opportunity. The only question remaining is whether lawmakers have the insight and courage to give it to them.