No two children are exactly alike. Those differences influence how they learn and grow.
That’s the guiding premise behind a proposal being considered in Columbia that would help parents make choices about where their children attend school.
The South Carolina Educational Opportunity Act was introduced in the House of Representatives today and will provide tax credits for parents who send their children to private or homeschool.
There are also provisions for charities that award scholarships to children from low-income families. The corporate and individual donors who finance these scholarships would receive state income tax credits as well.
A similar bill, S. 520, is already being considered by the State Senate.
Senator Robert Ford (D-Charleston) explained:
We can either fight for kids or we can fight for the same old broken system that holds them back.
Representative Eric Bedingfield (R-Greenville) reiterated Sen. Ford’s frustration with the status quo:
We need more people like Sen. Ford and my other colleagues who are willing to put words of change into action. People who want to give parents access to change, instead of blaming parents for public school’s failures.
One of the key themes to the press conference was the success and popularity of existing School Choice programs in South Carolina.
Sponsors of the Educational Opportunity Act noted how state scholarships for higher education had already expanded access to college, both public and private, 4-year and technical. Similarly, the ABC school choice program for pre-Kindergarten was a cost effective and popular way for children to enter K-5 schools ready to learn.
Not only does this comprehensive school choice bill enjoy an unprecedented level of bi-partisan support, it also offers huge savings to local public schools. Unlike voucher programs, the tax credit mechanism in the legislation takes nothing from public schools and does not invite government intrusion into private schools.
On average, each student who transfers out of a traditional school will result in an increase of $5,500 in funding for the local public school district. That’s because locally-raised property and sales taxes for schools are untouched by the Education Opportunity Act. In other words, public schools will have more money to educate fewer children. Public schools will also have a renewed sense of mission because all parents in South Carolina will, for the first time, have real access to all types of classrooms for their children.