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Not Enough Lifeboats June 1, 2007

Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.

Titanic Sinking


FITSNews – June 1, 2007 – Earlier this year, the S.C. House of Representatives killed a school choice compromise that would have dramatically expanded parental options for the 200,000 South Carolina schoolkids currently trapped in failing or below average public schools.

This week it was the South Carolina Senate’s turn to gut meaningful school choice, effectively sentencing those 200,000 children to yet another year stuck in the worst schools that the nation’s worst system of public education has to offer.

In defeating a series of amendments to the lifeboat-less “open enrollment” bill (a.k.a. “phantom school choice”), eight Senate Republicans joined the entire Senate Democratic Caucus this Wednesday in making sure the poorest, most at-risk students in our state remain hopelessly tethered to a sinking ship.

As much as we wish we could take credit for it, the masterstroke of comparing the Senate’s defeat of school choice with the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic belongs to Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn F. McConnell, who along with State Sen. Larry Grooms fought tooth and nail to advance the best interests of the neediest school children in our state at every step of the debate.

Sure, those in the “pro-public schools” crowd routinely crow about being “for the children,” but it was Grooms and McConnell who actually lived up to that mantle this week.

In a passionate, extemporaneous speech from the floor of the Senate, McConnell compared the limited availability of legitimate parental options under the public school open enrollment bill to the limited availability of lifeboats for third-class passengers aboard the famous ill-fated ocean liner.

“The poor people on the Titanic were left to die,” McConnell said bluntly.

He’s right. When the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic nearly a century ago, 100% of the First and Second Class children on board were saved. Unfortunately, the survival rate for Third Class children was only 34%.

Both of the school choice amendments defeated this week were targeted exclusively toward helping low-income students, the vast majority of whom would be unable to obtain public school transfers under the open enrollment bill, but apparently the whole “for the children” concept only goes so far.

Following precisely the same trend that we witnessed two months ago in the House, the defeat of legitimate school choice in the Senate was the result of a small band of Republicans defecting to the Democratic side of the aisle. In the House, fourteen Republicans voted with the Democrats to shut choice down, while in the Senate the following eight Republicans voted with the Democrats:

Sen. Thomas Alexander
Sen. John Courson
Sen. Wes Hayes
Sen. Jake Knotts
Sen. Hugh Leatherman
Sen. Harvey Peeler
Sen. Luke Rankin
Sen. Jim Ritchie

Senators Courson and Leatherman, incidentally, attempted to keep the issue from even receiving a fair debate in the Senate, and after that effort failed, they tried to escape scrutiny by keeping a recorded vote from being taken on the floor.

Sure sounds like First Class men hiding out in lifeboats to us.

Thus stripped of any resemblance to real school choice (i.e. the kind that actually provides choices), the open enrollment bill now heads to Gov. Mark Sanford‘s office, which is strongly considering a veto.

Of course no matter what the governor decides to do, at this point nothing can change the fact that another year has gone by with not enough lifeboats for South Carolina’s neediest school children.

And the ship is sinking faster than ever.



1. yep - June 1, 2007

If we overgeneralize the problem of our educational system we might develop policy that sinks ships rather than providing lifeboats. Because if a ship isn’t surely sinking you shouldn’t abandon it, then those left behind will surely perish.

2. FITSNews - June 1, 2007

Great point! In fact, now that we think about it our state’s public school system is much better suited to play the role of the “iceberg” in Sen. McConnell’s analogy.


P.S. – Nobody thought the Titanic was sinking, either. That’s why the first lifeboats went out only half full.

3. BewareOfTheWolf - June 1, 2007

Putting Parents in Charge, S.C. for Responsible Government and Will Folks are among the most hypocritical scams to ever attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of S.C.

And comparing today’s defeat of vouchers to the Titanic is typical of their hypocritical rhetoric. You see vouchers are a scam.

Vouchers will never help those who need it most. Vouchers may help a few to better afford a private school, and it will certainly be a windfall profit for those already paying private school tuition. But, vouchers are a scam.

When you ask a voucher supporter how it will help the most needy children who can’t afford private school even with vouchers or children who live where no private school will open – all you get is rhetoric. The truth is that vouchers are a scam.

The S.C. House and the Senate should be proud to vote the voucher scam down – again. The reasons are many and obvious to those truly interested in helping everyone. Thankfully the majority of our Legislature recognizes that vouchers are a scam.

By the way SCRG is probably Will’s only paying client, and they are probably rethinking how they spend their carpetbagger money now that they have been defeated so many times. As badly as they have been beaten over the years someday the money changers will get tired of throwing good money after bad. Until then the people of S.C. can count on the Legislature to do the right thing – keep defeating the voucher scams.

By the way, vouchers really are a scam.

“Beware of the Wolf!” Read the truth: http://www.choosechildrenfirst.com/

4. yep - June 1, 2007

I thought they went out half full because rich people didn’t care about saving the poor people. Hey! Maybe this is the right analogy!

5. Scott - June 1, 2007

As a Republican, I am disgusted, disappointed and disillusioned with the Republican Party leadership in the Senate.

Whether we’re talking about Hugh Leatherman (who can never spend enough of my money), John Courson (who dares never tread on anything that might offend the Shandonistas) or Wes Hayes (who can’t figure out if he is a conservative or not), we have a sorry lot of leadership in Columbia.

Don’t they read the platform? All I can say is SHAME….shame on each and every one of them.

6. FITSNews - June 1, 2007

Dear “Beware,”

Call us crazy, but how is pouring hundreds of millions of additional tax dollars each year into a system that continues to produce the country’s lowest graduation rates and worst SAT scores not an even bigger scam – not to mention the definition of insanity?

Being insane yourself, we figured you’d have some insight on that.

BTW, Sic Willie’s only clients are imaginary, silly goose!


7. Scott - June 1, 2007

It’s too bad that “Beware of the Wolf” doesn’t even take the time to read the amendment that was offered by Senator Larry Grooms. The amendment would have given low income students who were in a failing school AND who were DENIED a place in a passing public school, the opportunity to receive a voucher to go to a private school.

The only “scam” being perpetuated here is the umpteen gabillion hoops that parents have to go through to insure that their children receive a quality education.

8. sic haters - June 1, 2007

this drunk is getting paid by somebody?!?!?!? no no no, wilbur: free vodka red bull drinks at the back porch do not count.

go hit on a cocktail waitress already.

remember when will attacked teachers for “trying” to educate children? that was a doozy.

9. Gal Leo - June 1, 2007

Tell me if this is a scam:

If the voucher bill had passed, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston stood ready, willing, and able — as a part of its Christian mission — to assume de facto responsibility for teaching English to the immigrant Hispanic population.

This would have 1) relieved our public school system of an obligation that it is very poorly suited to meet, 2) been an efficient use of state resources and 3) — and get this — actually educated people. Poor people. People with different color skin. People who wouldn’t have made it on the Titanic, let alone into a lifeboat.

There are woeful weaknesses in the various political strategies behind the school voucher program, but the program itself is sound. For an indirect proof, go listen to the legislators who oppose vouchers: their rhetoric has gone from anti-voucher to anti-SCRG. At the end of the day, Friedman was right (and is being proven right daily in thousands of classrooms nationwide.)

By the way, please raise your hand if you ever read about the Catholic Church’s commitment regarding the Hispanic population in The State.

10. Give Me FITS - June 1, 2007

Vodka and Red Bull is a woman’s drink, isn’t it?

11. BewareOfTheWolf - June 1, 2007

Typical hypocritical rhetoric that still refuses to address the issue that vouchers are not designed to help those who need the help most. S.C. schools are making progress.

Only those blinded by political rhetoric and SCRG carpetbagger money refuse to admit it. Many students and schools need to make even more progress, but vouchers are not the answer.

Vouchers do not even ask the right question.

Shame? For shame check out Corridor of Shame.

Insane? I know you are, but what are we? Name calling is childish and shows your frustration.


12. FITSNews - June 1, 2007


Jimmy Rollins recent home run drought is the only thing frustrating us at the moment. He’s making good contact, just not getting it out of the yard. Oh well.

And as for name-calling, aren’t you the one referring to a credit that was solely going to assist low-income students at failing schools (who had been denied a public school transfer, no less) as a “wolf?”

“Wolf” is a name … from a children’s story … which too many of our kids probably can’t read because the public schools we keep dumping billions of new tax dollars into still totally suck.


13. Scott - June 1, 2007

If vouchers, scholarships, tax credits, etc. don’t work, then why does that state employ them in preschool programs – as well as for students seeking assistance in attending the college of their choice in South Carolina.

If choice is good enough for preschoolers and college students, why isn’t it good enough for children in K-12?

Oh…I forgot – the SCEA wouldn’t like it…

14. Insane? - June 1, 2007

Name calling? From Will? He who was convicted of DUI and convicted of criminal domestic violence and who got caught in the corvette scandal and who threatened an elected official probably needs to lay off the name calling.

15. RotoMan - June 1, 2007


Don’t worry about these anti-voucher guys…worry about the sap you traded King Felix to. Nice outing the other night. What, 7 earned over 6 with a WHIP near 2?

Or doesn’t your dual-league draft-not auction sissy league not use WHIP either?

PS: Don’t tell Cal I called him a sissy

16. BewareOfTheWolf - June 1, 2007

Once again both houses of the S.C. Legislature deserve great credit for defeating a perfumed pig of a voucher scam that was supported by thousands of dollars of carpetbagger money and blessed by rusty-razor-sharp canned political rhetoric and punctuated by political threats and name-calling for Legislators and citizens who recognize the scam. Do you know what that is? A run on sentence. Vouchers by any name are a scam.


17. G.L. - June 1, 2007

This plan definitely would’ve helped students who need it most because if you’d acutally read something for yourself instead of just listening to the School Boards Association, SCEA, or whoever is paying you, then you would surely understand that this plan was targeted only at low income families in failing schools.

18. Will Folks Nails It « The Voice for School Choice - June 1, 2007

[…] In this case, he has the Senate dead-to-rights when he says their actions ensured that thousands of SC children’s futures will go down like Third Class passengers the Titanic. […]

19. BewareOfTheWolf - June 1, 2007

G.L. The first word your comments bring to mind describes fecal matter. No one is fooled by the SCRG rhetoric of this scam. And no one is fooled anymore by you SCRG snake oil salesmen.

When the snake oil won’t sell you just change the flavor and the label. But it is still the same nasty snake oil. And it still wont sell.

The voucher scam is still a scam no matter how you and our SCRG masters change the flavor..


20. G.L. - June 1, 2007

This first sentence of your comment makes me think that you were a victim of one of South Carolina’s failing public schools. I’m not an SCRG member and I’m definitely not getting paid by anyone unlike you. I don’t see how you don’t “buy” this plan, it’s written in black and white. Go to yesterday’s Senate journal and it’s clearly written there.

21. Not Stupid - June 1, 2007

Hey Beware,

Isn’t it true that Choose Children First is actually Choose Contractors First? I mean, isn’t it a little strange that the anti-parental choice people are the same profiteers who rake in millions by building overpriced school facilities and thereby jacking up everyone’s tax rates?

Look, it’s clear you don’t care about kids. Otherwise, you’d let parents choose the best school for every child. You only care about filling your fat pockets with taxpayer dough. One day, your home will be robbed by a public school dropout. It’ll serve you right, too.

22. Newspaper Hack - June 1, 2007

Like many other conservative arguments that are supposed to “benefit” the less fortunate, the elephant in the room that is latent racism isn’t addressed.

Is it a coincidence that the wealthiest districts in South Carolina are the whitest, and the poorest are majority black? No. Conservative Democrats sent this jet toward the ground, and their heirs, conservative Republicans, are ratcheting up the speed.

Listening to a Republican trying to act altruistic is like listening to the wolf offering a plan to benefit the sheep.

Good try, though.

23. Slight of hand « Journalism Is For Rockstars - June 1, 2007

[…] Not enough lifeboats [FITSNews] […]

24. Gene Simmons - June 2, 2007

It’s amazing that “real” school choice is being supported by the black caucus.

Jim Rex is a puppet for the machine. It’s a steam engine stuck in the industrial revolution days, but never the less it has a lot of money and power.

I am truly disgusted with Republicans in the house and senate. What is the purpose of them being there?

25. An interested observer - June 2, 2007

All parents ought to be able to choose what school is best for their children and be able to send them there provided that they meet the admission standards of the school. Should a parent be penalized for sending his child to the school of his choice by having to pay tuition to a school plus school taxes? Absolutely not. South Carolina is doing such a poor job in educating its children now. Why not help a parent make an inestment in the future of South Carolina and our nation by helping him get his child into an excellent school of his choice even if it happens to be a private school? The current way things are being done is not working. Much of the blame has to lie at the feet of the teachers’ union which seems to be more concerned about preserving status quo, tenure, and more money aimed at this colossal failure called public education in South Carolina. Those who continue to do the same things the same way will get the same results. I fear for the children of South Carolina. It doesn’t seem like the folks in Columbia have the same concern. They have an election for which to prepare.

26. ChooseChildrenFirst - June 2, 2007

Thanks Hack, good point. The Wolf is trying to “help” the children! Uhh, the sheep. And the regurgitated political rhetoric here flows like, well, like regurgitated political rhetoric. It’s not even very original. 🙂

As you pointed out there is an elephant in the room in the form of racism. And those who ignore or deny it (watch for them here) are very uninformed or just plain ain’t telling the truth.

There is also the 500 pound gorilla of poverty that is sitting on the elephant’s back. Yes, poverty! Right here in S.C. You don’t have to look hard to find it. Unless you wear blinders.

Vouchers will not fix anything. Voucher plans just distract from honest efforts to help our schools. A voucher plan in any flavor is a scam, and the majority of voters and Legislators have shown that they know it.

It’s time to tell SCRG and the other snake oil salesmen to go peddle their junk elsewhere. S.C. isn’t buying it.

Someone may need to read this to Will. His head is still steaming from the recent voucher defeat.

27. Sasha - June 3, 2007

Snake oil is right. Who stands to benefit from “choice vouchers?? Not the children of SC. But, I do see tons of new “Christian” schools and private schools just waiting by sidelines, salivating….ready to receive those funds so they can give those children a “top notch” education. ahhhh the metal buildings, and used mobile units scattered behind churches in around SC. No need for the latest technology or gyms. They’ll line the kids up and take them for a hike each day for their PE lessons, and feed them PB&J sandwich with their cartons of milk. mmmmm Excellence in Education, but forgiven with sprinklings of Bible lessons here and there. Ahhhhh the nicer buildings behind those mega churches. You know the ones…… the ones with the wealthy ministers who drive those fine cars. And, this really makes it easier down the road. If you endoctinate people as small children, you don’t have to spend so much time telling folks how to vote on Sundays. Nope. Instead, you can spend more time on Sunday offering plate time, and “special” offerings time. What these people want to do to SC’s children is downright sinful. It is blasphemy. Really, people…….What would Jesus do? I don’t think he’d approve of us segregating our schools, under the guise of “School Choice” and “Vouchers” , and giving the children of SC less than what they deserve. South Carolinians, wake up!!! Take back your state from these people before it is too late. Don’t allow us to be the laughing stock of the nation. Show them that SC has a backbone, and that we love our children, and our schools. Of course, if they pass this bill allowing guns onto our school campuses with our children, and people get killed……well, they will then be poised to say, “See, our schools really are bad places and we need to give SC vouchers to protect the little children”. We need protection from our elected leaders, who are pawns for wealthy out of state business men who believe SC citizens are ignorant. This is my home. Wake up SC!

28. An interested observer - June 3, 2007

I’ll tell you who will benefit from vouchers. The children of South Carolina. Parents will actually get to decide what school will work best for their children and will be able to place them there. Their children won’t have to continue to be stuck in failing schools. Don’t tell me that the education establishment of South Carolina knows what is best for our children. As a parent of 2 children I can guarantee that I know what my children need educationally far better than the education bureaucracy does. Their plan as carried out has given us a last place ranking for achievement. Latest technology and gyms are not a true measure of academic achievement. Parents are the ones responsible for their children and overall their choice of a school for their child cannot be worse than what has been given to them in the current system. Schools that don’t measure up will have to change or close.

29. G.L. - June 3, 2007

The intelligence level of some of you writing on here astounds me. This amendment was not Put Parents in Charge, it was not even a real voucher plan (which I would not support). It was simply filling in the obvious gaps in this plan which are that the best schools are going to be full and low income residents won’t be able to afford private schools. What would you on the SCEA and SC School Boards Association’s payroll do to make up for this? And before you say it, I won’t buy fix the failing schools because y’all have been going to do that since Dick Riley and haven’t.

30. Private School Grad - June 4, 2007

As a private school grad, I can honestly say that the only scam in this whole ordeal are the private schools. My parents paid thousands of dollars (in the early 90’s) for me to be taught Chemistry by a DHEC employee, Algebra by a former insurance agent, Calculus by a hardware store employee, and English from a former homemaker who had an associate degree from I think Lander.

Fortunately, I realized the scam in this joke of an education, and took weekend classes to get a better education. But the fact of the matter is that there is no accountability in private schools– NONE!

And yes, while our public schools are failing, they have at least some accountability. Problems in our system cannot be solved by throwing money at the situation, nor can it be solved by taking money from it. Problems can be solved by going to the teachers and parents and asking them “What is the problem in these schools?” Notice I did not mention the administrators. In these failing districts, the administrators ARE the problem. They keep padding their wallets with taxpayers money– thats is where the accountability should be.

31. Deb O'Nare - June 4, 2007

” Private School Grad,”

There is an accountability system in private schools…parents. You might have been receiving a insufficient education at the private school you attended, but your parents had the ability to pull you out if they didn’t approve. Why they didn’t excercise that right is their problem. Your educational experience in private school is clearly not representative. Private schools in South Carolina consistently outstrip public schools in academics, and they manage to do it just fine with parents acting as accountability. There are obviously exceptions, but by and large it has been highly effective.

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