Opponents worry bill could expand private influence over SC public schools

VIDEO: Opponents worry bill could expand private influence over SC public schools

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Some state lawmakers are pushing to expand schools of choice in South Carolina under a new designation called “schools of innovation.”

Schools of innovation are funded and run through partnerships with public school districts and private companies or contributors. However, some opponents worry these efforts will hurt students in public schools that are already struggling for more resources.

Many supporters of this expansion of public and private partnerships for schools look to Charleston County School District’s Meeting Street schools as shining examples.

Some lawmakers want to expand this concept across the state by redesignating these schools of choice as “schools of innovation,” clarifying that public school districts can have more than one school of innovation, and provide certain procedures for obtaining and renewing status as a school of innovation.

However, the director of the Quality Education Project is concerned this effort could open the door to more private influence over public schools and leave some students, who don’t have access to these classrooms, behind.

“Expanding the schools of choice law will negatively affect our public-school system by opening the door to additional school take over by third party operators,” Dr. Kendall Deas said. “The public-private partnership concept under this law takes away ownership from schools and communities. Public-private partnership schools in CCSD have little to no transparency or accountability raising serious concerns about governance, policy making, budget decisions and student acceptance and retention practices.”

Members of the K12 Subcommittee will continue their debate on H3589 on Jan. 26.

Copyright 2021 WCSC. All rights reserved.