Columbia, SC — Speculating about an individual’s motives for supporting a proven education reform, as The State did in its Jan. 30 editorial (“Howard Rich’s losing investment strategy”), is hardly relevant.
What is relevant is the fact that 24,000 students failed to graduate from S.C. public schools on time last year. What is relevant is taxpayers spending almost $12,000 per student on an education system that ranks among the lowest in the nation on a range of academic indicators. What is relevant is the stagnating achievement gap between minority students and their white peers.
The real question is not why elected officials see private school choice as a means to address these problems; it is how anyone as informed as The State’s editorial board can remain so far behind the national dialogue about a popular method to jump-start school reform.
In recent years there has been an explosion of school choice options around the nation. Nineteen states now have private school choice programs that serve more than 212,000 students. That number grows year after year, for a very simple reason: School choice works.
Education thrives where parents are empowered to choose the classroom that best meets the needs of their own child. Study after study confirms the academic and cost-saving benefits of school choice to public schools. Is this the “stealing” of support for public education that The State is so concerned about? Parents who want the best for their children don’t think so.
Rather than supporting lawmakers who seek reforms for our state education system, The State’s editorial board is obstinately steering the conversation into the weeds of its own politics. To deny the effectiveness of private school choice in the face of its growing success is like standing at a shuttle launch and denying the possibility of space travel.
Thousands of parents across the state have spent years pleading for educational options, and many lawmakers are following the lead of their counterparts in other states to provide them.
The discussion about school choice as a viable way to help students moved past myths and speculations long ago. The State should do the same.
South Carolinians for Responsible Government