The SC House has approved an appropriation of $25 million in additional funding for the SC Public Charter School district (SCPCSD). State Superintendent Zais claims “[o]ur public charter schools, paid for and supported by state tax dollars, are providing South Carolina students with innovative educational opportunities that meet and often exceed state standards.” The recent release of 2010 school district report cards call these actions and claims into question.
According to the report card data, published at Zais’ agency’s website, www.ed.sc.gov, the SCPCSD ranks 77th out of 85 SC districts in absolute performance, with a graduation rate over 45% lower than the median district. While the median district’s art opportunities rating is “excellent,” SCPCSD’s is “poor.” Astoundingly, these results require an average administrators’ salary of over $10,000 more than the median SC district. According to the SCPCSD “[t]he goal of charter schools is to encourage academic excellence, educational improvement and cultural diversity…” In fact, the rate of African-American enrollment in SCPCSD is less than half the median SC district and the poverty index is 10% less. Actually, the disparity in Africa-American enrollment violates the current charter school law in SC.
The charter school experiment in SC should be evaluated thoroughly before any additional legislative support is provided, and, Dr. Zais, the state’s chief school officer, should explain how the results of the SCPCSD are meeting and exceeding those of other public schools.
Glen R. Carson