Sunday, March 25, 2012

Daily Gamecock: Charter expansion a poor plan

Look at this: Even the students at the University of South Carolina agree that charter school expansion in South Carolina isn't the panacea for our ills. Reporter Angel Hollen wrote in The Daily Gamecock last week:

Decisions regarding South Carolina public schools are currently being discussed in the general assembly.

State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais’s top priority is passing a bill to help charter schools, which are considered public schools but are not under the same requirements as traditional public schools. According to state Rep. Phil Owens, lawmakers are beginning to realize that charter schools are considered public schools, and that “one size does not fit all when it comes to education students.”

Both sides of the state Senate hope to reach a compromise on the bill that includes allowing charter schools to participate in public school athletics or extracurricular events and be gender-based, that is, girls-only or boys-only schools.

Another idea would allow colleges and universities to “authorize charter schools.” As of right now, only school districts can allow new charter schools. Mary Carmichael, the director of the Public Charter School Alliance, says that allowing universities to create charter schools will “create very high-quality charter schools.”

First of all, if the Senate allows universities and colleges to create charter schools, the universities and colleges will be breeding students to attend their school.

Also, while it is great that the Senate is finally proposing ideas for South Carolina education, considering it is ranked 50th in the country according to the Report Card on American Education, putting time and money into charter schools will not help solve anything. Instead of creating new policies and schools, the government needs to focus on what South Carolina already has, and investing more money into the school system instead of creating a new charter program that will simply complicate things.

Owens claims that lawmakers are realizing that “one size does not fit all.” But they fail to realize that simply investing money into the public schools will help with student performance. Charter schools may be successful in the long run, but what about the public schools that already exist? They will just keep getting the same results unless something is changed.

Some changes for public schools that should be looked into include giving more money to some of the worst schools in the state.

According to a report done by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, the condition of school buildings greatly effect a student’s learning. Technology is also becoming an important factor in student’s education. The Milken Exchange on education technology found that computer usage in the classroom can help students learn more information in less time than a student that does not learn with a computer.

Money that could be used for charter schools should be invested into smarter things like school buildings and technology for public schools that already exist.

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