Saturday, February 17, 2007

Adkins supports charter schools!

If Rick Adkins’ leadership in thwarting the backdoor increase wasn’t enough for his debut on the State Board of Education, he also helped a majority of board members overturn the denial of an application by a charter school in Greenville County. Greenville County School District denied the application of Greenville Science Charter School on the grounds that it didn’t have enough community support and that its financial plan was unsound. Never mind that it’s director, Ali Ozer, is not only a former Clemson physics professor but also has started two successful charter schools in the Atlanta area, one of which has won national awards.

According to Rick and other state board members, the Greenville board simply argued that this charter school didn’t plan to do things the way Greenville County does, so therefore it couldn’t work. For instance, Greenville School District argued that since they couldn’t find science teachers for $42,000 a year then the charter surely couldn’t find them for $30,000. This merely reflects the institutional arrogance that plagues our schools today.

What Greenville School District failed to mention, but what other board members have confirmed, is that the district plans to open a couple of science magnet schools on its own. While this is admirable on the district’s part, it also likely reflects the major concern the district had about this charter, competition.

The vote on this charter application was really a test vote for the fate of charters statewide. The fact that the board sided with choice and innovation bodes well not just for the folks of Greenville County but across South Carolina. I’m proud Rick Adkins stood up for choice against the defenders of the status quo.