School Swap: Meeting the swappers

(Statewide) Nov. 7, 2005 - Any day now, a judge is expected to rule on whether South Carolina provides an adequate education to all its students.

You've heard from the lawyers and politicians about what they think. Now you'll hear from the students about how the schools and educations stack up in two very different South Carolina communities.

Two young ladies swapped lives for WIS for three days. The first, Janae White, knows what she wants to do, "I love children and I love decorating."

"I either want to be a pediatrician or an interior decorator."

Aimee Schmidt is the second swapper. She also has a goal in mind, "I love helping them and just watching their faces light up."

"So, I've decided, that's kind of how I figured out, I wanted to teach."

The two have different dreams and different realities. Janae White lives in Hampton County, off a dirt road in Scotia. Scotia is right outside of the town of Estill. Estill has one stop light, one restaurant on main street, and one high school.

Janae says about her own school, "I like the school overall, but there are some things that I'd like to change."

Every person who lives in Estill, and Scotia for that matter, would fit inside Richland Northeast High School, where there's plenty of flat screen tvs, computers galore, even a full service salon. Amy Schmidt is a senior at Richland Northeast, "The biggest thing I'm nervous about is going to this place I've never been to. Is it Estill?"

The two swapped lives and we'll learn what they experienced and how it affects student achievement.

For Janae, it's the technology, "I think it can help improve your education."

At Estill, Aimee finds something else affects achievement, culture, "Pretty much the entire day, I haven't been in a class yet where students sit and actually pay attention completely to what the teachers are teaching. They're just kind of having their own conversations."

"I'm not sure if it's that they just don't take education seriously."

Technology and culture both have an effect on student achievement. But many believe money has the greatest effect.

Dennis Franchini of Estill High School, "It's an historical problem, of number one, our school district being underfunded and not being able to provide some of the educational opportunities we'd like to provide for our students."

By the end of the swap, Aimee and Janae's opinion on how much money alone affects achievement would be about as far apart as their realities.

Posted 8:55pm by Chantelle Janelle