Time to focus on positives of public schools

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Bennett Gunter

It is always interesting to read articles in magazines and newspapers where people with great knowledge spill their wisdom concerning the feelings of our public school system.
This had gone on for years and years. Yet, for some reason or other, all these wonderful ideas are wasted. The one big whipping pole is money or according to most of these wise people, money wasted on public school in South Carolina.
In a recent guest column in The Lancaster News, Phil Noble, president of the S.C. New Democrats, cites the firsthand knowledge his good friend, Jon Butson, gained from running the Charleston Education Network.
In defense of our public school system, there are points that need to be made. First, it is always easy to criticize what is being done, especially when you can just sit back and see only your little garden and not know what is being planted on the farm. I regret these well-educated men see faults in Charleston and feel the same is taking place across South Carolina.
The schools in Charleston may be failing their students but this is not the case across the state of South Carolina. We have schools that can compete with any school system. Coming from these schools are outstanding graduates that go on to excel in our leading colleges and universities.
Second, these men do see the importance of strong leadership. Where do you find this valuable element in education? Do you for one minute think any and every school district in South Carolina is not looking to hire the very best administrators that are available to them. Yes, they are.
Third, classroom teachers always serve as the link in our education system. When you criticize our classroom teachers you are criticizing our colleges and universities that are preparing young people for this vocation. It becomes the duty of the school district to have in place a special mechanism for selecting the most talented and best trained teachers possible.
At the same time, anyone with experience in the classroom will tell you students help to make a great teacher. When you ask the man or woman on the street to express their expectations of their public school, they dream of the utopia. This can never be. What would happen if these people who have all the answers for the ills of our public schools were put in two classrooms of 35 students with a number of them coming from a single-parent home who dropped out of school in the eighth grade to start a family? These teachers are working with competition with iPads, clothes about to fall off with no interest in what is being taught in the classroom.
To say we are going to face and conquer the challenges of producing a great public education for every child in South Carolina is dreaming. Some people just can’t face the reality that all people are not created by God equally. This is to say God did not intend for everyone to be a rocket scientist or brain surgeon. Thank goodness. Otherwise, think of the many trades and means for earning a living that would go lacking.
Therefore, we are so thankful for all the teachers and administrators who work every day to take every boy and girl where they find them and do everything in their power to see them grow in knowledge and understanding to the best of their ability. Nor everyone should expect to go to college. Thank God for our trade and tech schools.
It is way past time we stop faulting our public schools and find what is being done right.
Please note: Money is not the answer.

Lancaster resident Bennett Gunter is a former principal of Indian Land High School.