Private money for public schools?!


Rex has tripled the number of $100,000+ employees, but rather than make real spending reforms, he is putting the bureaucrats on a short “furlough“.

Budget cuts are making education bureaucrats worry about money for the first time in years, and they don’t like it one bit.

As a government monopoly, the public school system isn’t fiscally efficient. There is no questioning that massive administrative growth at the SC Department of Education, South Carolina’s public education establishment, has burned through a billion new dollars in spending over the last five years with nothing to show for it.

Now marginal cuts have been made, and educrats are scrambling to find a way to maintain the “no questions asked” spending spree that they have become accustomed to.

This week Jim Rex will meet with members of the business community to discuss what role private groups can have in funding public education (in addition to the taxes they pay).

Some public school districts have struck upon the idea of using private foundations to help local schools.

Pam Bailey, Berkeley County School District spokeswoman, said of a foundation set up to help Berkeley County schools- “It is a 501-C3 organization, so it could be a conduit for grant money from businesses that it holds.  It’s also a bank for private donors who want to set up scholarship funds.”

That sounds like a great idea, Pam! In fact, other states like Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Arizona and Florida make use of similar groups called Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGO) that allow concerned businesses to contribute money so students from low-income families can attend the school of their choice; public, charter or private.

In Pennsylvania alone, 33,000 students have made use of scholarships from SGOs to exercise school choice. Since the program’s inception in 2001, corporate contributions have more than doubled from $30 million to $75 million dollars for scholarships.

There are many families and businesses in South Carolina that would eagerly participate in a school choice scholarship program, but Rex has no interest in allowing foundations to work both ways. Either the money goes to Rex’s system, or it goes nowhere at all.

Jim Rex wants businesses to dig deep and give to a system that arguably turns out the least prepared workforce in the nation, but when it comes to these same companies helping low-income and minority students get out of failing schools he wants nothing to do with it.

Scholarship Granting Organizations work, and other states have used them with great success. South Carolina public schools have a 49% graduation rate, a widening achievement gap, and some of the lowest SAT and ACT scores in the nation, yet bureaucrats like Jim Rex continue to stand in the way of implementing proven means of boosting educational achievement. If Rex wants private foundations to give more money to education, he should have the honesty to extend this same option to groups wanting to provide parents with real school choice.


6 responses to “Private money for public schools?!

  1. Pingback: Private Money For Public Schools? :: FITSNews

  2. Spartanburg County resident

    Do not private schools and the foundations that support them (and scholarships for students) already have non-profit status? Can’t churches or civic groups or others already raise money — with non-profit protection — for scholarships to private schools?

    Tax credits that directly take money of the public system while encouraging contributions to SGO’s may or may not be a fine idea. But it’s not the same thing as traditional non-profit status that I think Jim Rex is talking about in terms of groups that might give money for scholarships for public school students (I assume to attend college, I guess?).

    Again, there may be an argument in favor of SGOs, but I think the Voice is comparing apples to oranges. If I’m not mistaken, private schools and scholarship funds supporting them already have the sort of non-profit designation that Rex is talking about.

  3. IRS reconized non-profits enjoy federal tax status, there is no corresponding state credit or deduction for donations.
    How would a tax credit for a private donation “take money” from the public system.
    In case you are new to the blog, I suggest you click around the old posts. You will learn that average per student public spending in SC is $11,480. Of that a tiny fraction (less than $2,000 in most cases) is per student spending that is directly “attached” to the student. This means more money for public schools per child each time a student withdrawals to attend private school or be home schooled.
    Rex wants state tax credits for non-profits helping schools – but would not offer similar incentives to groups supporting charters or private schools.

  4. When a student withdraws from the district for whatever reason, the district should only be allowed to keep the allocation that was actually being used to educate that child while enrolled.

    This would offer an incentive to provide meaningful educational services. Under the current system, Administrators could care less if a parent withdraws their child after the child’s allocation has been recieved.

    There is no accountability. If a school denies a child a Free Education, the school still keeps the child’s allocation and the denial is not reflected in the annual report card. How many kids have to be denied services before it is considered to be a systematic problem?

  5. A few years ago we had a chance for a state education superintendent who wanted real reform and school choice, but easily led voters who don’t study candidates, voted for Jim Rex. Quite frankly, they are getting just what they have been getting for decades. The lowest quality education in the nation at great expense. And now Jim Rex wants businesses to pony up more money. Go fly a kite, Jim. You’re not a real superintendent.
    These liberal minded Democrats speak of choice and yet they are truly against choice. It is OUR tax money. Our kids ought to be allowed a portion of it for school of choice; private, public, charter. It is OUR money, not the politicians’ or public school systems’ money.
    Let these SC public schools sink along with the auto industry that is also bloated with overpaid office people and unionized workers.

  6. Pingback: Teacher Renewal Center: Taxpayers may pay for “private donation” « The Voice for School Choice

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