Lawmakers consider changes to Charter School Act

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- South Carolina lawmakers are considering changes to the state’s Charter School Act. the law was enacted more than 20 years ago and created public charter schools in the state.

Monday afternoon, a House education committee reviewed a packet of dozens of potential changes to the legislation.

The group started by discussing the current definition of a charter school. One proposed change would add “blended learning” to the definition. Blended learning combines traditional face-to-face instruction with online teaching. Lawmakers said recent trends in education show “blended learning” is becoming a more popular learning style.

Next, lawmakers reviewed current requirements for teachers. “All non-certified and certified teachers, who are teaching outside of their certified area, must possess a level of competency in the subject,” explained Representative Raye Felder.

But the law doesn’t specify what that competency level is.

Representative Lin Bennett added, “I mean there’s got to be some kind of definition for excellence vs mediocre.”

Another change lawmakers are considering deal with a school’s accountability.

Representative Bill Taylor described a situation in his district where a failing school continued to operate because of language in the current law.

“We need some language that anticipates what we just experienced, which is we didn’t do report cards for a few years and then the failing schools get a do-over,” said Rep. Taylor.

Right now, failing charter schools are closed after 3 consecutive years of missed marks. Suggested changes to the act would extend that time to 6 years. Some lawmakers fear the new time frame would keep failing schools open longer.

Representative Bennett added,”Why 6 years? Why don’t they in the first year if they notice there is a problem helping these schools turn around?”

In addition, lawmakers will have to also decide who is responsible for helping those failing schools; the SC Department of Education or the charter school’s district.

The committee will continue to meet with the goal of having a finalized document for lawmakers to discuss in January when session resumes.

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