TEDxCharleston speakers focus on education, innovation – The Post and Courier

Challenge the status quo and push for change.

That’s what the founder of Meeting Street Academy Ben Navarro told a crowd of several hundred people Tuesday at Memminger Auditorium.

“We know what works to educate under-resourced kids,” Navarro said. “But making change happen on a broad scale, changing the entrenched status quo is very, very hard.”

Navarro, whose company Sherman Financial Group funds the private school Meeting Street Academy, was among 20 speakers, artists and performers featured at the 2nd annual TEDxCharleston, a day-long event aimed at sharing inspiring stories and ideas.

The event gave a rare glimpse into Navarro’s vision for the school.

“Everyone should have a chance to attain their version of the American dream,” he said. “Unfortunately for many children given the schools they’re required to attend, it’s not possible.”

Navarro pointed to some troubling statistics about the challenges facing low-income and minority students in South Carolina. He said of the state’s 725,850 students, 54 percent, or 395,033 children, qualify for free or reduced lunch. Of the 1,100 African-American students in Charleston County schools who qualified to take the SAT, only 568 did so and only 31 students met the test’s benchmarks.

“The problem isn’t the kids,” Navarro said. “The problem is the system. It doesn’t work for under-resourced kids.”

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