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Why We Love School Choice

National School Choice Week is a big deal in our office. We know that the kids of South Carolina need high-quality options, and we’re thrilled to be a part of a movement that is providing a portfolio of innovative charter schools for families. Our district staff got together this week and sounded off some of the reasons why we believe school choice is critical to our mission, and how our work helps to create more excellent choices for families.

Emily Paul, Special Education Coordinator—’School choice is important in special education because it allows opportunities for students with disabilities to seek alternatives to a system and structure that might not be working for them. They are able to attend schools that can creatively address their unique needs and enable them to access the general curriculum with innovation that a traditional school might not be able to provide.”

Hunter Schimpff, Director of Policy & Analytics—”I believe parents should have transparent and timely data on the performance of schools to help inform the school choice decision making process. Without clear, concise, and accessible data on learning outcomes, parents are often left to roll the dice when it comes to finding the best educational learning option for every child.  Since the critical K-12 education years only happen once in a child’s lifetime,  parents shouldn’t be left to guess, hope or wonder if their child’s learning environment really will prepare them for the future or not.

Bobby Rykard, Director of Performance Management—”School choice is relevant in my work because it empowers families by allowing them to have a voice in deciding what school their child will attend and how their tax dollars are utilized.  This matters to me because it means transitioning decisions regarding curriculum development, the hiring and firing of teachers, and determining how school funds are to be spent from bureaucracies into the hands of communities.  This allows parents and students to choose schools and educational programs that best fit their needs.”

Kerry Donahue, Director of Strategy—”When I was four years old, my parents made a choice to move to a community with excellent public schools. The educational choices my parents were able to make opened up the world to me. Through education, I’ve traveled the United States and the world, I’ve made friends across diverse cultures and backgrounds, and I’ve developed a lifelong passion for learning that will be a resource to me wherever I go.  All students in South Carolina can and should have these same life-altering choices at their fingertips. A high-quality education that stokes a restless curiosity is the key to every South Carolinian reaching his or her full potential.”

Dana Abbott, Chief of New Schools & Accountability—”In my scope of work, overseeing authorizing practices such as the approval process and performance evaluation means being responsible for ensuring that school choice in the charter context means an opportunity to obtain a quality education from a truly equitable and truly accountable public school.”

Catherine Watt, Director of New Schools—“I see school choice as a right that should be afforded to every child. In my role overseeing the application process for the SCPCSD, I work to ensure that the choices being offered to students are high-quality schools offering access to all students.”

Paula Gray, Director of Human Resources—”School choice is important because a parent should have the ability to choose which public school their child attends and not be restricted by their address or income.   Children learn in different ways and with school choice comes innovation and options for teaching children, enabling parents to choose what is best for their child and not have to be stuck with a one-size-fits-all method.  Parents tend to be more involved in a school that they have chosen and that helps all children thrive.”

Vamshi Rudrapati aka Mr. Vee, Director of Federal Programs— “School choice is not the solution, it is an option. Providing access to variety of options to parents and communities for them to make a choice of their child’s education is what school choice all about”

Teresa Etheredge, Administrative Assistant—”As a parent of children who learn very differently, I embrace the opportunity for children to have options for their learning styles. While traditional and very structured works for some, being hands on and expressive and creative works for others. I believe this allows each child the opportunity to meet his full potential in an environment that will allow him to become the person that he or she dreams to be. Though school choice is an option and affords wonderful opportunities and results for children, it is not available to all children. So I believe we must work very hard to address the needs of funding for transportation and facilities so that all children throughout our state truly have access to the school of their choice.”

Audrey Lane, Chief of Access & Equity “Choosing ‘better’ schools has always been an option for parents who had the means to afford better options or make the necessary changes to their lifestyles to secure better options for their children.  It is the goal of the South Carolina Charter School District to ensure better/high-quality schools accessible and equitable for ALL children where they live.”

Siddhartha Chowdri, Chief of Finance & Operations—”As we support our existing schools and help launch new ones in the state it is important that these school choices not only have the sufficient resources to support students, but also that these school choices are financially sustainable. It is critical that our families have schools that are not only a good choice today but for years to come.”

Taylor Fulcher, Director of Communications— “There is power in the ability to choose the life we want to lead and not have to settle for the cards we were dealt. I believe that school choice is a solution to a predisposition of chance, and allows parents and families to find not just options, but high-quality educational options despite the zip code their children were born into. It’s my privilege to serve the families of South Carolina, and I hope we can continue to bring more excellent options to kids that deserve more than the status quo.”

Roberto Vargas, Director of Student Information Systems—”School choice is important because it puts the power in parents hands. When you are given the ability to choose your school, not only does your child get better, that school gets better because you are more involved. You made that decision to be there and you want the best outcomes for that school, and it shows by the involvement in the school, classroom and home.”

All smiles for school choice week!

 Sean, Spartanburg Prep

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