Wednesday, March 30, 2016

CCSD's Deficit No Excuse for Closing Small Schools: Fight!

Charleston County needs a new organization to speak for its small schools; let's call it "Save Our Small Schools," or SOSS. Despite the present business model now erroneously applied to education, most common-sense people realize that not all aspects of education are measurable. Jane Edwards Elementary on Edisto Island is a case in point. Lincoln High School in McClellanville is another.

First and foremost, there's geography. Edisto is named an Island for a reason. As noted many times before, "closing Jane Edwards would mean closing an important hub in the tight-knit rural community." Important activities that keep students busy and out of trouble would disappear. These include "an island basketball league on a court out back" and a Young Naturalists group staffed by volunteers who reveal wonders of the students' natural surroundings. Also, grants have made possible a community garden at the school. Happy activities such as these would be swallowed up by long bus rides. As rural parents well know, the district's bus routes frequently leave even kindergartners to stand in the dark at ridiculously early hours and get home late. 

Perhaps the case for closing the school would make sense if this school were failing: it is not. In fact, the school does better on state report cards than most schools serving similar populations, including the one proposed as an alternative. SOSS.

Lincoln High School.
Lincoln High School supporters know intimately that their school has been on the CCSD chopping block for years. In 2015 they insisted that a new building be funded in the next round of sales tax recommendations and won at least a grudging possibility. While some CCSD high schools suffer from lack of interest in their communities, Lincoln has vibrant support. 

Image result for map of charleston county school districtEven so, it's about the GEOGRAPHY, stupid! Sometimes you wonder if those proposing busing students from this school to Wando have ever looked at a map.

Notice anything? It's a long haul down Highway 17 to Wando High School! 

Everyone can agree that Lincoln as presently constituted is too small to offer a reasonable smorgasbord of courses; however, the solution couldn't be simpler. CCSD needs to build a new Lincoln for about 500 students closer to Mt. Pleasant. Then the School Board should redraw attendance lines at the southern end of District 1. Mt. Pleasant creeps ever more quickly towards McClellanville. In 20 years or so, that end of Mt. Pleasant won't be so rural.

Sending Lincoln students to Wando, to put it in a word, stinks. These generally rural students would be thrown, sink or swim, into its affluent milieu. They would spend hours traveling by bus and stand even longer in the dark than those up US 17 already do.  

One positive aspect of American life used to be community. Today it's already disappeared in most of suburban life. Community is even more important in rural areas. CCSD should not destroy positive aspects of these two student environments. SOSS!

No comments: