The Herald questioned departing Rock Hill schools superintendent Randy Bridges, whose last day is Friday, about some of the issues facing public schools today. The following questions and answers are available only at heraldonline.com
Q: In South Carolina, the question of school choice has come to the forefront in forms of tax relief for parents who send their children to private schools. How might choice be addressed in the public schools?
A: Many public school districts in the state already have choice, with Rock Hill School District Three being one of them. Parents have the right to choose between public schools, charter schools, home school or private schools. I support school choice in public schools. However, I don’t support public funds being used for private schools. The local community should play a key role in determining the educational opportunities provided to their children. I support our focus on creating “balance” in our schools. If we can maintain that belief, choice for our district would be a great community discussion.
Q: How important is the November election of the state superintendent of public education?
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A: The election of a new state superintendent is extremely important this year, maybe as important as it has ever been in South Carolina for some time. Each candidate has expressed concerns with the current accountability model and each recognizes that changes are needed in public education. Their approaches to how those changes should occur are quite different. I would advise everyone interested in the future of public education in South Carolina to pay less attention to the political party each candidate represents and pay more attention to the plan of action they are proposing to improve education for all children.
Q: You have spoken about providing a more precise accountability model for students in South Carolina? What would you like to see done?
A: I believe in accountability! As professionals, we should welcome others assessing our performance. I am concerned that as the expectation for raising the academic performance of all children increases, we have to provide our teachers with a chance to know the strengths and weaknesses of each child, so they can be confident that what they are teaching is relevant to the test. Teachers have to receive feedback on student performance in a timely manner, so they have the ability to design academic plans to meet the needs of each student. The MAPS program many districts are using is headed in the right direction as a model to use. RHSD3 was one of the first in the state to begin using this system three years ago.