Obama has school choice, South Carolinians don’t


With only a weak Charter School law, South Carolina is falling further behind the national trend toward School Choice.

The Wall Street Journal reports that President-elect Obama is deliberating over which school his children should attend. This from the article-

“As public servant No. 1, Barack Obama may feel the heat to send his kids to public schools. The White House is zoned for Francis-Stevens Educational Center in Foggy Bottom…But Mr. Obama could also follow the lead of the last First Family with school-aged children, the Clintons, who said their daughter wasn’t a social experiment, and put Chelsea at Sidwell Friends, a Quaker school on Wisconsin Avenue.”

Through obtuse opposition to any form of school choice, backward South Carolina lawmakers and bureaucrats have ensured that all parents in South Carolina will not be given the opportunity to make the same decision about where their children attend school. Currently, wealth and zip code (which obviously go hand in hand) are the only determiners of whether your child attends one of the state’s failing public schools or not.

In contrast, Washington D.C.’s Opportunity Scholarship Program enables parents without economic means to exercise the same choices in education as their wealthy peers. Under this program, all parents of children that qualify for free and reduced lunch are eligible for a scholarship of up to $7,500 to help pay for tuition, transportation, and school fees. Parents jumped to take advantage of their newfound choices. The Friedman Foundation reports that in 2006-07, 1,800 students made use of the scholarship, and almost 70 private schools participated in the program. There are many thousands of families with children enrolled in chronically failing schools that would eagerly participate in a similar program in South Carolina.

Unfortunately, too many politicians and bureaucrats are fine with someone else’s life being damaged by an inadequate education, and refuse to provide one. The Obama family has choices because of wealth. Others in DC who lack the money enjoy the benefits of school choice scholarships.

Either way, parents in Washington, DC have the ability to decide about which classroom their children will sit in. Sadly, few in South Carolina enjoy this same luxury.


6 responses to “Obama has school choice, South Carolinians don’t

  1. It’s nice that Obama and James Smith have the option to send their children to private school. It’s too bad that they stand in the way of other people’s ability to do so.

  2. The current monopoly of our public schools offers no incentive for schools to strive for excellence.

    While there are some great Administrators and schools in South Carolina. There are no enforced requirements that ensure that District leaders comply with safeguards that are in place to protect our kids.

    If a parent files a formal complaint with the SDE School districts know that corrective actions are as optional as the violation that caused the complaint to be filed in the first place.

    IDEA and ADA are “laws” written by Congress. Until they are enforced by law enforcement, schools will continue to ignore them and they will continue to use education money to hire attorneys to keep this cycle going.

    Enforcing basic laws will improve current education and greatly reduce legal expenses in South Carolina that in effect reduce the quality of education.

    It all needs to be put on the table and sorted in the public eye.

    Our school districts have so much that is swept under the carpet that they don’t want law makers to be aware of. 2009 is the year to be up front and move away from this practice that does nothing other than guarantee wealth to local law firms that represent the school districts.

    Let’s focus on guaranteeing that all children have equal access to educational instruction. The school district’s attorneys should be able to find meaningful work elsewhere.

  3. Well, we were going to have public school choice, but the hard-core Libertarians killed it. When you insist on all or nothing, no compromise, sometimes you end up with nothing.

  4. “public school choice”
    Do you mean the Jim Rex “open enrollment bill?”
    Wow, what a farce. That would have given 4 levels of admin the ability to deny transfers (your school, your district, the other district and the other school)!
    You are very gullible if you think open enrollment or transfers from one failing public school to another is choice! Do you think rich middle white class parents in York want all the poor black kids from Jasper bussed into their schools? Certainly not. And if they admit kids want out of those schools, just give them scholarships to priv school already!

  5. Pingback: Obama’s School Choice Plan « The Voice for School Choice

  6. Pingback: Families Rally for School Choice in D.C. « The Voice for School Choice

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