‘Microschool’ offers alternative to traditional public school

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – With many parents still facing uncertainty about the upcoming school year, some are turning to alternatives like “learning pods” and “microschools.”

Learning pods and micoschools involve a small group of students getting together to learn. A Facebook group called “Pandemic Learning Pods and Microschools of the Upstate” has 300 members.

For some parents, it’s what works for them with their school schedules, but some experts warn those setups could fuel inequality when it comes to education

Beth Kinzer has spent more than two decades as an educator and school administration. Recently, she’s been the executive of non-profit “Ignite,” which offers after school classes for kids.

She said she decided to start a microschool, where she will teach a group of six elementary schoolers at her house, because she saw a need.

“We wanted to provide that for parents who are working so that they have that opportunity to be stable,” Kinzer said.

She said kids at the “Ignite Microschool” won’t have to wear masks and will benefit from a personalized, hands on curriculum.

“They’ll be active, and we’ll have a lot of time to really dig into fun activities and explore things that unfortunately the schools just don’t have time for,” she said.

“Microschool” will be held at her house 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

Tuition is $7,900 a year, costing parents $12 an hour.

But some experts have criticized microschool learning models, saying they will worsen education inequality.

“I think that there’s always a concern about equality issues when you start looking at access to learning environments that are resourced-based,” said Patrick Kelly, who is the director of governmental affairs for the Palmetto State Teachers Association.

Kinzer said expanding her micoschool to underprivileged kids is something she would like to do, but it’s just not realistic yet.

“If we had the space and we had a donor who wanted to help us, I would love to be able to pull in some families that couldn’t afford it or be able to go into a neighborhood that’s under-served and provide this type of services to them,” she said.

Kelly said inequalities in education existed before the pandemic put a spotlight on them, and it’s up to the government to do something about it.

“What will be problematic is if our state leadership does not commit to addressing inequities because we know that students will remain in South Carolina’s public schools because it is the only educational option that is available to all students of all backgrounds and all income levels,” he said.

The Ignite Microschool opened the application process yesterday and is still accepting applications.

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