Charter Schools Option for New School Year

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By Monique Williams

Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) -- Because there is no cookie cutter method to educate South Carolina's children, some charter school leaders believe parents need options, just in time for a new school year.

"Every kid doesn't prepare the same way," said Kevin Rasberry, Founder and CEO of Garden City Preparatory Academy for Boys in Orangeburg. "You can have kid in the classroom with the best teacher possible, but if he's not prepared to learn while he's there, nothing a male or female teacher says will get to him."

Rasberry's GCP is the state's only single gender public charter school. He claims charter schools and traditional schools want the same thing. However, reaching boys, he says, requires a hands-on, project-based, mentor-driven approach to successful learning.

"We give parents a different option. We take it beyond education and that's what 's needed. Like in Orangeburg, 71% of households are led by single women. Where is the male influence?"

Rasberry knows, though, if Garden City Prep doesn't make the grade, it could close, very few questions asked. It happened to Deirdre McCullough's Calhoun Falls Charter School, which turned an
F-performance into an A-rating.

"We had a vision but couldn't operate. We have people in place now to sustain us academically and financially."

A new report released last month found that despite receiving fewer per pupil dollars, public charter schools are producing greater results on national math and reading assessments, and better long-term economic gains for students than traditional public schools. That accountability is another reason state superintendent for the public charter school district, Dr. Wayne Brazell, claims the charter method is gaining momentum.

"We have 31 charter schools this year, 24 last year," said Brazell. "Five years ago, we had 2,000 students and we're on target to have 17,000 in the district this year."

It's a ball Kevin Rasberry hopes keeps rolling. Garden City Prep is enrolling now for sixth grade boys. For more information visit gc-prep.org.

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