As I continue my series of ways to improve education in Fairfield County, let’s look at private schools.
Growing up in the small town of Whitmire in neighboring Newberry County, private school was not an option. I lived with my grandmother who got by on social security.
Whitmire High School had less than 300 students in grades 7-12. I graduated with 41 other students.
My only knowledge of private schools was what I saw on television. I thought private schools were where rich people sent their kids.
Now that I am grown and have a better understanding of how life works, I can appreciate that private schools such as Richard Winn are not necessarily how I thought they were.
From my understanding of Richard Winn Academy, it is a small private school that offers another option for parents to educate their children.
One of the benefits of a private school is they can be more flexible than a public school. One such example is the decision by Head of School, Dr. Nancy Coleman to change from a six period day to a seven period day for their older students.
With the additional period, students can partake in practices for the Quiz Bowl Team, take part in a mock trial course, take a robotics class, receive extra tutoring, make art or receive SAT and ACT preparation; as was described in an article in the Herald Independent last week “Settling in at Richard Winn”.
These options allow students to get more than a traditional education. They allow them to sample different educational options to determine if they are interested in becoming a lawyer, engineer, or artist.
The reality of private school is that it cost money to send your children to Richard Winn, Ben Lippen, Heathwood Hall and other private schools in commuting distance.
Tuition ranges from $5,232 at Richard Winn to $12,565 at Heathwood Hall. I can’t fault Richard Winn for the tuition they charge. It obviously costs money to educate children and their price is one of the lowest in the Midlands.
Just as in the public schools, teachers there are not getting rich. As I mentioned in previous columns, some parents work multiple jobs to send their children to Richard Winn to give them what they feel is the right education for their children. I admire the fact that parents will do whatever it takes to give their children at chance at a good education.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, “private school students generally perform higher than their public school counterparts on standardized achievement tests.Private high schools typically have more demanding graduation requirements than do public high schools. Private school students are more likely than public school students to complete a bachelor’s or advanced degree by their mid-20s.”
With that being said, that is a comparison of schools nationwide and not at the Fairfield county level.
I have heard in the past from some parents who considered sending their children to higher costs private schools, that those schools still have problems.
If you take your kids out of public schools and send them to an “elite” private school such as a Heathwood Hall, you then have “rich kid” problems. At most schools public or private you still have drugs. There they may be different drugs at private school, but they are still there. A
s parents we are always trying to shield our children from problems. Unfortunately life has problems wherever you go. As parents, our job is to bring them up right to be able to make the appropriate decisions, because I believe life is about decisions.
Private schools such as Richard Winn Academy are the right choice for some children and not the right choice for others. Parents continue to work multiple jobs to pay the tuition associated with these schools.
Hats off to the parents who make this choice and sacrifices to send their children to the school they feel is best suited for them. Next week we will close out this series on how to improve education in Fairfield County, as we look at public schools. I have given you something to ponder. Had Enough, Vote Republican.
Kevin Thomas is the Chairman of the Fairfield County Republican Party and Vice Chairman of the 5th Congressional District and can be reached at email@example.com