In their own words: parents fight for School Choice in South Carolina


More and more letters from parents in South Carolina who want real school choice

“Give parents options, and they will take them” (LTE, State Newspaper)

State Department of Education spokesman Jim Foster evidently believes low-income South Carolina parents are too dependent on the state to take advantage of the proposed tax-credit program to foster private-school choice. Even if they received a full scholarship, he rhetorically asked your reporter: “How do they get to school? Who pays for their breakfast and lunch? How do they get home in the afternoon? Who pays the additional costs that public schools currently pick up?” (“School choice gets push,” April 20).

That is the sort of paternalistic outlook for which statist bureaucracy is renowned. Here is an alternative: Let the parents have that choice of a good, safe school, and see if they don’t find a way to make the sacrifices to get the kids fed and to school and back.

Having options outside the suffocating embrace of government-controlled education can be liberating.


Myrtle Beach

“Give parents choice to improve education” (LTE, Beaufort Gazette)

The Obama administration and the Democrats are nationalizing the banks, the American auto industry and companies that have taken bailout money. Health care is next. Will “Big Oil” follow? They also believe that federalizing public education is a major priority. Today, public education is really “government education.”

Numerous books and editorials have been written and TV interviews have proliferated as to what is the root cause of the problems of public education in America. The list is too long to repeat, but what all of these experts miss is the fact that public education will never improve so long as “government” runs it. Three trillion dollars and 30 years of trying prove that fact.

A former Israeli diplomat recently visited the Lowcountry and was asked, “What more does America need to do to help Israel?” His surprise answer was for America to ensure that it maintains its technological superiority in the world and to do so by doing a better job of educating its children, which he said we were not doing. That means American education is a national security issue.

The South Carolina legislature is considering legislation that would allow parents “choice” as to where their children receive their K-12 education — public or private. This is absolutely a step in the right direction. It comes with legislation that requires testing to prove that private school children are learning. This legislation can free South Carolina from the basement of American education. Please support this bipartisan effort.


Hilton Head Island

“S.C. public schools aren’t making the grade” (LTE, State Newspaper)

Much of the disputed stimulus spending revolves around education. My parents were teachers back in the old days when we respected the teacher and did not dare complain that Mrs. So-and-So was mean to us.

It is an entirely different world today. Teachers and students alike are threatened, classes are disrupted, and after all the money former Gov. Dick Riley threw at the schools in the ’80s, we still are one of the lowest-scoring states in the nation.

My wife, who has a doctorate, was a teacher for 35 years. She worked in a world where everything was upside down. The inmates ran the asylum. The teachers who had the most responsibility had the least authority. If the child did not learn, the teacher was held responsible. In my school days, if I flunked, I was held responsible.

I am wholeheartedly behind any politician who endorses school vouchers.

I have no interest in throwing money down a rat hole. Tell me why I have to pay taxes to send my children to a public school that is propagandizing them and never holds them accountable.

If all public schools were like they are in a few counties, I am certain parents would continue to send their children there. But if they are like the majority of our districts, I would like my money back. For the most part, public schools get an F.



“School Choice” (Guest Editorial, Newberry Observer)

In Newberry and across South Carolina the HOPE, LIFE and Palmetto Fellows Scholarships have helped thousands of students attend college. Some have gone to private schools, others to public ones. Some will be the first in their family to attend college. For others the scholarship helps lighten the load of high interest student loans.

The basic idea is simple. College graduates are important for the state’s economy and the life of our local community. Helping students obtain a higher degree serves a common public purpose. Extending the opportunity to low-income students also reduces social and economic inequality.
This is a great example of School Choice and we need to offer something like it for younger students as well.

Lawmakers in Columbia are considering such a proposal right now. It’s called the South Carolina Educational Opportunity Act. It is Senate Bill 520 and House Bill 3802.

The legislation offers income tax credits to parents who transfer their children from public to private or home schools. This will be a cash windfall for local schools in Newberry. That’s because over $5,000 in locally raised money per student will remain with the school district when children transfer out. There is also another $1,000 in federal spending, most of which would also remain with the public district. In other words, public schools would have dramatically more money to educate fewer children.

Tax credits will also extended to corporations donating to non-profit scholarship granting organizations that serve low-income families. This will dramatically expand access to educational options and reduce the shameful educational inequalities that characterize most of South Carolina

Parents in upper middle and high-income families already enjoy K-12 choices. They can move between attendance zones or districts, place their kids in a private school, or sacrifice a parent’s time and income in order to home school their child. Many other families don’t have these luxuries.

School choice is proven. It means real options for parents. It also means real reform and accountability, which is the catalyst to expanding what matters most in education: parental involvement.




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