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School Choice, For Real This Time February 9, 2007

Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.

school choice


FITSNews – February 9, 2008 – For decades, an ever increasing government dollar figure has reigned supreme as the lone measuring stick of South Carolina’s commitment to the education of its future generations. A billion more here, a billion more there, a new tax here, a new tax there.

We knew it was adding up to real money. But sooner or later, we thought it would add up to real progress, too.

It didn’t.

The same can also be said of South Carolina’s vaunted (and expensive) new accountability system, which has done little else than show us how far and how fast we are falling behind the rest of the nation.

Our state is last in SAT scores. Last in graduation rates, too. One in three of South Carolina public schools is failing or below average, and 195,000 children are currently trapped in those failing schools, up from 138,000 just a year earlier.

For the first time, though, the in-state education establishment is turning to a remedy that reformers have been pushing here for years – school choice.

Well, sort of.

Let’s be clear, Superintendent Jim Rex’s proposal to bring “public school choice” to South Carolina is like trying to treat a bullet wound with two Ibuprofen (in addition to having the assassin serve as the doctor), but it is incredibly symbolic.

“This is a tacit endorsement of how important it is to provide parents the opportunity to send their children to a school of their choice, public or private.” S.C. House Majority Leader Jim Merrill, told The State newspaper this week.

A day after Rex’s announcment, a much larger delegation of legislators unveiled a legitimate school choice plan – one that would create meaningful opportunities for low-income parents whose kids are trapped in failing schools in parts of the state where “public school choice” essentially means deciding between one failing school or the other.

Predictibly, the education establishment bristled at such a plan, which would provide $4,500 scholarships for low-income children in failing or below average schools and $1,000 tax credits for all children.

But lost in the rhetorical back and forth this week over these dueling school choice initiatives is a fundamental new reality – both sides of this debate are now advancing at least some form of school choice.

Which means that in some form or fashion, more choices are about to make the jump from theory to reality in South Carolina.



1. voice - February 9, 2007

Unsurprisingly, they went after this same issue here:


2. whoopie - February 9, 2007

The problem is not education, it is governments inability to do ANYTHING, including educate children. Any serious observer of government can only conclude that our government is totally inept at virtually everything it does OTHER than promoting the government’s interest. Pick any agency and u will find it incompetent, overstaffed and wasteful…but growing!

Mark Sanford and other non-useful Republican idiots are preaching government reform and restructuring. Sanford attempts to re-arrange the deck chairs and somehow thinks that will enable and empower government employees to actually work. Yet there is no mechanism through which workers are celebrated and non workers are penalized. Overstaffing has created situations where most employees are forced(!) to play on computers just to appear busy…while middle and upper management attend “meetings”.

Sure, there are some excellent government employees, I don’t doubt that. But just peek at any agency, and u will find dysfunction is the order of the day. And neither Mark Sanford, Bobby Harrell nor anyone else will challenge the status quo…so the charade continues.

And nothing gets done….

3. Alex Gillon - February 10, 2007

Just a thought: what if a student is “trapped” in a “failing” private school. (and there are many of them, just as there are public ones.) What do we do then?

4. Scott - February 10, 2007

Alex, Let’s see…the parents can take them out of the “failing” private school. Glad to know that there are so many “failing” private schools. Usually, a bad private school will be put out of business….when was the last time you’ve heard of a public school being closed? Hmmmm….

5. Alex Gillon - February 11, 2007

Thank you Scott. You’re right. Private schools in a sense never fail, because they still largely accomplish what most were set up to do–provide a segregated education for whites. Academically is another matter. We really don’t know exactly how good or bad they are because there is little accountability. Ever hear of a private school taking a PACT test or seen a ranking of individual private schools by SAT scores?

6. Thousands Gather For School Choice « FITSNews For Now - February 14, 2007

[…] – February 13, 2007 – Approximately 4,000 people gathered on the S.C. State House steps to support real school choice here in the Palmetto State, not the watered down public school choice that Jim Rex is […]

7. Thousands Gather For School Choice « FITSNews For Now - February 14, 2007

[…] 13, 2007 – Approximately 4,000 people gathered on the S.C. State House steps today to support real school choice here in the Palmetto State, not the watered down public school choice that Jim Rex is […]

8. Raise Your Voice « FITSNews For Now - February 20, 2007

[…] – February 20, 2007 – We’ve made no bones on this site (or on the Original FITS) of our strong support for school choice. With South Carolina ranking last in the nation in SAT scores, last in graduation rates and with […]

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