Parents and papers push for School Choice in SC

engaged parents south carolina school choice.jpg

Across South Carolina the message of empowered parents and student-specific instruction is spreading.

Hundreds recently packed three separate rooms at a Senate hearing in Columbia, demanding that lawmakers move beyond political rhetoric and adopt real policies of School Choice. Policy experts, private school educators, and parents have come together to rally for a system of educational tax credits that fosters parental engagement, reduces student achievement disparities and saves money.

In addition to the grass roots advocacy and personal testimonies, many dedicated to School Choice are now making the case on opinion pages of newspapers across the state of South Carolina. Here are a four recent examples…

On Sunday April 26th, the Charleston Post and Courier editorialized “Give school tax credits a try:”

Expanding school choice expands educational opportunities. So why limit school choice to the public education system?

The obvious answer: politics. The education establishment remains a powerful force influencing state legislatures — and Congress. It also remains steadfastly opposed to helping even small numbers of poor children transfer to private schools from public schools that are shortchanging them.

Against that familiar backdrop, an S.C. Senate education subcommittee held a hearing at the Statehouse Thursday to consider arguments for and against proposed legislation that would provide tax credits and scholarships for low-income and special-needs children to transfer from struggling public schools to private schools [more].

Kerry Wood authored a letter to the Spartanburg Herald Journal explaining how “Choice makes sense:”

Teachers say student success begins with engaged parents.

Parental interest and involvement conveys the importance of learning to children, encourages family bonds and makes learning more fun.

Bureaucrats categorically blame parents for systemic failures in public schools. South Carolina’s shameful 55 percent on-time public school graduation rate is an example.

South Carolina must adopt laws and policies that foster parental engagement. Rewarding parents who are already engaged will help encourage other parents to follow [more].

Robert B. Baker was published in the Rock Hill Herald making the case that “South Carolina families deserve a choice:”

Recently, The Herald published a short but very personal list of their grievances with state Sen. Robert Ford. Sen. Ford, a black Democrat who represents the city of Charleston, a three-hour drive from my home.

My interest in the “Sen. Ford wrong again” editorial has to do with school choice. I support school choice and was frustrated with The Herald’s off-hand dismissal of a proven reform that promises to help children here in York County.

The problem is two-fold; first, too many people in York County are unrealistic about the quality of our local public schools; and, second, the choice debate has been inaccurately characterized as a public versus private education battle [more].

Neil Mellen authored a guest editorial in the Summerville Journal Scene explaining how the promises of school assessment and accountability reforms remain unrealized when parents lack substantive choices:

All the test results and report cards in the world are meaningless if parents are powerless to act on them. What person would be content with a dentist that grudgingly alerted them to the need for a root canal, but was unable to do the procedure, and refused to allow another dentist to do the job?

It sounds ludicrous, but parents face a similar situation every year with South Carolina’s public education system. Parents may be able to find out that their child is attending a failing public school, but ultimately they have little or no power to do anything about it.

“Accountability” and “education reform” are just words if parents are unable to use report cards and test results to make choices about where their children attend school. Tax credits and scholarships, as part of a comprehensive school choice plan, will encourage parents to be engaged and involved in their child’s education. Parents of all incomes and backgrounds will finally have real power to act on the information they have about their child’s school. This freedom to choose is the key to an effective, equitable and accountable education system. When this kind of real accountability exists, the only losers are schools that keep failing children [more].

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