Haves and the have-nots in Charleston

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Great letter to the editor in the Charleston Post and Courier:

I was pleased to see Robert Ford‘s push for Tuition Tax Credits; however, when I read the March 25 story, it seemed focused on how this could be construed as posturing for a gubernatorial run instead of focusing on the current inequities in the system, and what a major step toward removing these inequities this legislation would be.

Critics of the bill say this will lead to re-segregation. Right now Charleston County schools are pretty segregated. They are divided into the haves and the have-nots. If you have enough money, you can send your children to private school or live in the right neighborhood. The only people who currently don’t have school choice are the people who can’t afford these options.

The proposed legislation will open up doors to the people who need it the most. It is phased in so that of the current students, only those whose families are below 200 percent of the poverty level qualify. It will also allow companies and individuals to immediately provide needy students with scholarships.

Since the tax credit is limited to the amount of the state per pupil allocation for that child’s district (state average of $4,900), all of the federal and local money would stay with the public school (state average $6,600). The school district no longer has the expense of educating that child but gets to keep over half of the money that was allocated, so there is no drain on the school system.

In addition, the legislators should keep in mind that over 63,000 students were educated in private school last year. In these tough economic times, a large number of these families will struggle to pay private school tuition. With many public schools overcrowded already, how will the school districts handle this extra burden?

I applaud Sens. Ford, Bryant et al for looking past partisan politics and doing what is best for children trapped in either failing schools or environments that just aren’t right for them. Sen. Ford is correct in stating that the problem is that there are children trapped in the middle of this debate. They can’t afford to wait another five or six years while committees debate what should be done.

Malcolm Baldwin

Romain Road

McClellanville

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