(This post was co-authored by Evelyn B. Stacey, Education Studies Policy Fellow at the Pacific Research Institute in Sacramento, California.
Escape from failing schools is within reach for students in the Palmetto State. The South Carolina Educational Opportunity Act would allow individuals and businesses to take credits off their state income taxes for donations to non-profit organizations that award scholarships to low-income students. It would also allow lower- and middle-income parents to claim credits for private school tuition, ranging from about $2,400 for most students, $3,600 for students in failing schools, and nearly $4,900 for students with disabilities. Today, around a quarter of a million South Carolina students are in failing schools. A full three out of five of them (147,000) are African American. Senate sponsor Robert Ford (D-Charleston) introduced his bill in March, declaring, “All of us have been defending the system. It’s time to stop. I’m not pussyfooting with this anymore.” Sen. Ford told the Wall Street Journal that he believes his bill is two Senate votes shy of passing. Because the tax credit amounts to just half of what the state spends per public-school student, there would be a savings, $5.4 million in the first year alone according to government experts. More important than saving dollars and cents is saving children’s futures. “I don’t give a damn about the money. I’m doing this for the kids,” Sen. Ford explained. He is joined by a growing bi-partisan coalition in South Carolina, with more than half a dozen elected proponents of school choice ousting opponents in recent years. This trend is a vibrant microcosm of a nationwide phenomenon as more elected officials recognize that equal educational opportunity is a matter of right and wrong, not right versus left. (See here, here, here, here, and here.)
This post was co-authored by Evelyn B. Stacey, Education Studies Policy Fellow at the Pacific Research Institute in Sacramento, California.