South Carolina Senate Passes Charter School Expansion

The South Carolina Senate has passed a bill, by a margin of 39-2, that will boost the growth of charter schools statewide. The bill increases the number of ways in which a charter school can form and allows for the formation of single sex schools. The bill also requires traditional schools to give charter students access to sports.

This comes just after an education subcommittee voted to give homeschool students access to sports at the school they would attend if they weren’t being homeschooled.

South Carolina currently has 47 charter schools, the expansion of which will allow South Carolina to again move to the forefront of single-gender teaching in the US, due to the less restrictive regulations they have to operate under.

South Carolina became a national leader in public single-gender programs after former Superintendent Jim Rex took office in 2007 and hired a director specifically to promote their growth. But the popular option became a casualty of recession-era budget cuts. Under federal law, traditional schools must offer co-ed classes in addition to boys-only and girls-only classes. Many schools dropped the option after losing teachers to budget cuts, since they lacked enough to teach all three segments.

House Education Committee Chairman Phil Owens applauds the bill as being one which will allow parents to make the best choices for their children without worrying that the best option has a huge drawback such as lack of access to extracurricular activities.
Another provision of the bill is to tweak charter schools’ governing procedures by extending school board elections to a two or three year cycle instead of the current inefficient annual elections.

The amended bill now returns to the House, which passed their version a year ago. The amended version is thought likely to be endorsed once again.

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