Hypocrisy: Politicians and editorialists point to state-financed college scholarships as a major success for education and equality, but deny scholarships to parents of K-12 students.
Monday, South Carolina’s State Newspaper ran a brief article detailing the growth in publicly-funded college scholarships.
The number of S.C. students using state-funded scholarships to attend college in the state continues to soar.
Last fall, 87,867 students used the scholarships to go to S.C. colleges and universities, an increase of 2,251 from 85,616 a year earlier.
Over the last five years, the number of S.C. students using the state’s scholarships has increased by 23,812, a 37 percent growth in the program, according to new statistics from the state Commission on Higher Education.
The article goes on to discuss how scholarships are financed through Education Lottery Revenues, and that the growth in number of scholarships, and in scholarship size, is faster than anyone would have predicted. This point was considered in more detail by the South Carolina Policy Council last year,.
Beyond questions about sheer growth of the HOPE, LIFE, and Palmetto Fellows Scholarships, nothing in the article suggests the basic design of state-support for families seeking to educate their children is problematic. That is because these college scholarships – which provide assistance both for students at public and private schools – are widely hailed as a major success. Thousands of lower and middle income children, who would not have otherwise enjoyed the opportunity, have gone to college because of these scholarships. Many academically exceptional students have chosen to stay in-state for their schooling when they might have attended schools elsewhere. Finally, the wide range of public and private schools that can accept the scholarships ensures that all colleges and universities strive to positively distinguish themselves in order to attract students, raising the standard of our state as a whole.
HOPE, LIFE, and Palmetto Fellows Scholarships are an excellent example of school choice. By funding the student, rather than funding a monopolistic government schooling system, lawmakers have expanded opportunity and empowered families. This has fostered competition and expanded access. The same model should be employed for students in grades Kindergarten through twelfth grade.