Loud and Bipartisan for Education

school-choice-south-carolina

A powerful editorial, co-authored by Senator Ford (D-Charleston) and Representative Bedingfield (R-Greenville), ran in both the Post and Courier and the Greenville News:

Our proposal is simple — we would take roughly half of the money our state currently spends per child and allow parents to choose a school setting that fits their child’s needs through a S.C. Opportunity Tax Credit. It would only be an average credit of $2,500, which pales in comparison to what the state spends to educate children today.

For our lower income families, who may not have a tax liability, we are allowing scholarships be made available for families to send their children to the school of their choice. The scholarship program has been successfully implemented in Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, and Ohio. It’s time we give opportunities to our lower income families to free them from decaying failing schools and give their children the opportunity they deserve.

Public, private, parochial — the choice would be up to the parents.

It’s that simple.

Jeanne Allen writes in the Washington Post, wondering why an African-American public school student from Dilion, South Carolina still doesn’t have choices, despite the media attention and political hype surrounding her decrepit school building:

Ty’Sheoma Bethea doesn’t know that adults work in her schools regardless of how well they do their jobs, that there are no consequences for leaky roofs. She may not know that cities like this one offer choices that provide exactly what she wants and deserves. She’s been told that she is treated inequitably because the state doesn’t care about kids in Dillon. So she wrote the president, who brought her to Washington and told her story and asserted that the economic stimulus legislation helps her, absent any policy changes.

The Washington that has pledged to help her wants to abolish the D.C. program that affords choices to the poorest children. I wonder, if Ty’Sheoma had written the president about how choice benefited her, whether she would have been sitting with Michelle Obama.

The New York Times quotes DC Chancellor of school Michelle Rhee who realizes that “public education” means much more than just “public schools:”

“Part of my job is to make sure that all kids get a great education, and it doesn’t matter whether that’s in charter, parochial or public schools,” Ms. Rhee said. “I don’t think vouchers are going to solve all the ills of public education, but parents who are zoned to schools that are failing kids should have options to do better by their kids.”

The NY Times also realizes that most private school students are paying very modest tuition:

This year’s hand-wringing over tuition might be dismissed as the latest hardship for the patrician class, which, like everyone else, can simply educate its young in the public system. But of the more than three million families with at least one child in private school, according to the 2005 census, almost two million of them have a household income of less than $100,000. According to a Department of Education survey, in 2003-4, the median annual tuition of nonsectarian schools was $8,200; for Catholic schools, $3,000.

So for every family that pays $30,000 and up to attend elite schools in Manhattan, thousands more will pay tuitions closer to $2,700 — next year’s cost for St. Agnes Catholic School in Roeland Park, Kan

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