Friday, South Carolina’s State Department of Education finally released the public school and district report cards to parents across the state.
“Sadly this is more of the same news we have been receiving from the other indicators in the last two years – if you are poor or black, you are further behind your wealthy or white peers in South Carolina, and if you are lucky enough to live in one of the “good” districts you are still not regionally or nationally competitive” explained Randy Page of South Carolinians for Responsible Government.
In just two years 77 more public schools have dropped to “at-risk” or “below average.” Any credibility the State Superintendent might have claimed as a “reformer” has vanished, right along with the prospects of the children stuck attending those failing public schools.
“We know that in states where parents have more equal access to all types of classrooms –be it public, independent, charter, magnet, homeschooling, etc – children are more likely to be seated in a classroom uniquely suited to their individual learning needs and styles,” continued Page, “and this means both more appropriate instruction and less performance inequality.”
Some encouraging gains have been made but within the larger context of a 56 percent on-time high school graduation rate, parents and children are still chronically underserved by public schools in South Carolina.
High performing schools should be applauded, but the continued statewide trend of growing race and wealth gaps in public schools is troubling, and invites serious questions about equality of access.
Finally, it is really important to note that report cards are uselessly late. Parents deserve to know about school quality before the ensuing school year begins. Only then can they have time to consider other options if the local public school is not performing up to their expectations.