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U.S. Sen. Tim Scott said America may want to look to Scandinavia and Asia for ways to improve public education at home.
“We are still built on a 1930s and ’40s model,” Scott, R-S.C., said Friday in Charleston, where he was the invited guest speaker of the conservative Palmetto Policy Forum.
“We haven’t fully considered or appreciated the 21st or 22nd century of education,” he said.
Scott suggested exploring Finland and “four or five Asian countries” that repeatedly appear at the top of education success lists as possible models for getting the discussion going.
What happens to at-risk students during the summer break after nine months of concentrated work is one area that needs attention.
“When they get those three months off, if there’s no plan for their educational opportunities to continue through the summertime, they drop off significantly,” he said. “Kids who are struggling, they lose most of the ground in the summertime.”
Scott’s address came to about 50 members and supporters of the Palmetto Policy Council meeting at the Charleston Place Hotel. The group bills itself as “free market, fiscal and cultural South Carolina conservatives.”
The effort was relaunched in 2013. It was “championed and energized by Jim DeMint,” according to the group’s website.
DeMint appeared at the session via pre-taped video message where he gave shout-outs to both the group’s work and to Scott, who was picked by Gov. Nikki Haley to replace DeMint when he quit the Senate last year to lead the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington.
Scott did not dwell on specific federal acts during his address but did encourage addressing education by advocating more control at the state and local level. The federal level could help lead the conversation on education change, he said.
Later Scott told reporters he advocates more flexibility in terms of charter schools and choices for children of military families that move around.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.