Sens. Tom Davis and Kevin Bryant are sorely misinformed and misguided, not to mention playing fast and loose with facts, in their guest column in Friday’s State (“An immediate response to court’s education decision”).
The S.C. Supreme Court did not overstep its bounds in ruling that the state has neglected children in poor, rural districts. It is, in fact, the job of the courts to rectify gross injustice on the part of legislatures, and that’s what the court has done.
Second, Rep. Jenny Horne’s S.C. Jobs, Education and Tax Act is not a massive new state property tax. It is a preliminary effort to mitigate the gross inequities between tax revenue in affluent and poor counties. It’s not perfect. It is a good start, which is why it’s supported by all major professional education associations.
Third, South Carolina has not failed its special-needs children. There are wonderful teachers, aides and support personnel all over this state who teach and care for special-needs children every day. They are held to rigorous standards and outcomes. Each special-needs child has an individual education plan that is assessed annually; progress is monitored and measured, and adjustments made as needed.
Finally, there is no credible data to support the effectiveness of Sen. Larry Grooms’ budget proviso allowing tax deductions for those who donate to scholarship-granting organizations. Why? Because private schools, unlike public ones, are not required to test students and publish results. We may know the number of families who took advantage of this publicly funded excursion into independent education, but we know nothing about its effectiveness.