A Catalyst for Change
Meeting Street Academy (MSA) is a groundbreaking initiative dedicated to the creation of a new mandate for education in South Carolina and beyond. MSA was founded upon the belief that all children deserve an excellent education regardless of their geographic or socioeconomic circumstances, and all children have the ability to excel in the classroom. Where access to quality public education or affordable private alternatives is severely limited, MSA is providing children with transformational educational opportunities.
Accomplishing it Together
MSA believes that we are all in it together.
MSA opened its Charleston, SC flagship PreK-5th independent school in 2008 as a proving ground; a place to demonstrate that it is indeed possible to close the opportunity gap that has plagued our community for decades. Drawing upon the best practices from innovative schools across the country, MSA’s founders developed this school as a prototype for educational change. In 2012, MSA launched its network of schools with the opening of MSA-Spartanburg, which was made possible by the contributions of a generous private donor who was inspired by the success of the flagship school. MSA is now partnering with policymakers, education advocates, investors, and local communities to apply this model to new ventures, including new independent and charter schools as well as reformed public schools. In 2014, MSA opened its first public-private partnership in North Charleston, SC called Meeting Street Elementary at Brentwood!
Defining the Issue
In America, the promise of public education was to provide equal access to quality education for all children. The reality is this promise has been broken for several decades. Sadly, the very children most in need of the stepping stone a great education offers are those that have the most limited educational opportunities. And far too many children are REQUIRED to attend a failing school simply by virtue of the neighborhood into which they are born, with no other option. How can this be true in America in 2015?
To make matters worse, the educational bureaucracy often obscures the true condition of many of our poorest schools; thus, in many cases families don’t have access to the information needed to assess accurately the dismal state of their local schools. Without the chance to receive a quality education, the promise of the American dream quickly begins to fade. Addressing this inequity is what we are all about at MSA: the fundamental belief that all children deserve the opportunity to achieve their version of the American dream. In order for that dream to be realized, a great education is not a luxury but a requirement.
Perceiving the Need
The unfortunate truth is that educational inequity is commonplace in South Carolina. More than half of South Carolina’s students come from low-income families. By fourth grade, only 20 percent of these students are proficient in reading and math (per the “NAEP,” National Assessment of Educational Progress). And by the time students reach high school, the only option available in many communities is a so-called “dropout factory:” an institution with a graduation rate of less than 60 percent. In fact, South Carolina has the third highest concentration of drop-out factories in the nation; the highest in the southeast.
While many South Carolina schools employ dedicated teachers and serve hardworking families who want the best for their children, the current operational model is simply not designed to meet the needs of under-resourced communities, despite significant per-pupil expenditures. In contrast, the MSA model delivers an education on par with the most elite private schools in the country at a cost comparable to South Carolina’s statewide per pupil average. Within this budget we are able to provide not only an excellent education, but to also address the unique needs of an underserved population by providing significant benefits vis-à-vis public school students.