It is a subject that Jim Rex and other so-called “progressive” government school monopolists don’t like to talk about.
In fact, few people in South Carolina are familiar with the Education Oversight Committee’s (EOC) so-called “2010 Goal,” the latest state program aimed a reducing the gaps and raising South Carolina’s position in 50-state student achievement rankings.
Recently the EOC released data about “progress” made in South Carolina’s public schools toward reaching the goal. There was very little good news.
Among the shameful “highlights” from the EOC report:
The white/black disparity in performance on math PACT tests rose from 24.4% in 2000 to 29.9% in 2008
…In science it rose from 24.3% to 32.4%.
…In social studies it rose from 21.6 to 25.6%
The white/black gap in SAT scores rose from 195 points in 2002 to 198 points in 2008
The white/black gap in ACT scores rose from 4.2 points in 2002 to 5.3 points in 2008
Even more frustrating, data from both the CEP and the SREB show that South Carolina is an anomaly, and that race-correlated gaps are actually diminishing in other states.
The problem is not a lack of resources. While South Carolina spends an average of $11,000 per public school student, the number is usually much higher in districts with large numbers of African American students. Consider Allendale County (71% black) where the per student spending is $17,850 and Jasper (53% black) with $17,756 per child.
Rather than sending ever-more public money into under-performing public schools, the real solution to reducing the achievement gap is expanding access.
Expansion of access means school choice. The best way to reduce inequality in South Carolina is to allow all families -black, white; poor, rich- to freely choose among the full range of classrooms. This needs to include traditional public schools, charters and magnets as well as independent, private and home schools. If these are the choices already enjoyed by wealthy families, then real equality requires that all children have the same opportunities. Equal access to effective and appropriate instruction is the only way gaps will shrink and the ambitious “2010 goals” can be met. What’s more, in the process, school choice will also save South Carolina taxpayers millions of dollars.