Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue signed a bill that will provide parents tax credits for K-12 educational expenses in his state. Parents can exempt up to $2,500 in spending on independent school tuition and corporations will be given tax credits for donations to private, charter and magnet schools. Georgia already had a school choice program that offers scholarships to special needs children (similar to the one SC lawmakers recently rejected).
Education policy expert and author Jay P. Green explained on his blog:
I said it before, and I’ll say it again: Further proof, if further proof were necessary, that school choice is politically more successful than ever.
One thing that’s really gratifying about this program is that it has no demographic restrictions at all. Any student enrolled in Georgia public schools (K-12) is eligible for a private school scholarship. The days of limited choice are numbered.
As Georgia pushes forward on real K-12 education reform, South Carolina continues to lag behind. Despite the nation’s lowest high school graduation rate, the nation’s second lowest SAT scores, and an expanding performance gap between income and racial groups, South Carolina actually spends $200 more per child than neighboring Georgia.
If lawmakers have any desire to make South Carolina an economically competitive state they need to look to states like Georgia (as well as Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin, and others) and see how expanding access to quality schools – public and private- has resulted in a more efficient and effective educational system.