rotten apple


For years the South Carolina Republican Party platform has called for the adoption of universal school choice legislation – a rare example of an establishment entity embracing real reform in this notoriously change-averse state. The only problem? Numerous “Republican” politicians still refuse to support parental choice. In fact two “GOP” State Senators – one of whom was endorsed by S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley last year – have made it their mission in life to attack choice and demonize those who advance it.

S.C. Senators Wes Hayes (RINO-York) and Larry Martin (RINO-Pickens) – two far left politicians who’ve had plenty of practice “killing messengers” they disapprove of – were at it again this week. Only this time they weren’t attacking this website’s founding editor, they were attacking longtime school choice supporter Howard Rich – who had the audacity to make legal campaign contributions to both Hayes’ and Martin’s opponents in 2012.

Not surprisingly Rich’s contributions were the subject of yet another hit piece in The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper – an outlet which has been attacking parents’ right to choose for more than a decade.

Rich is an inviting target for these liberal “good ol’ boys” and left-leaning reporters because he’s a) a Yankee, b) Jewish, and c) wealthy – making him the ultimate “not from ’round here” persona. But the debate over Rich’s involvement in South Carolina (where he has no financial interests) isn’t about the anti-Semitism lurking just below the surface of the attacks against him, or the ridiculous “Palmetto State knows best” mentality responsible for running our state into the ground over the last two centuries.

Nor does this debate have anything to do with the amount of money Rich donated to Hayes’ and Martin’s opponents – or the pile of cash Hayes and Martin took in 2012 from a host of taxpayer-funded interests (including the six-figured bureaucrats managing our state’s failing government-run education system).

We can follow the money, sure … but ultimately the money must stand for something bigger than itself.

Which leads us to what this debate is really about: The unmitigated failure of our state’s worst-in-the-nation (and getting worse) taxpayer-subsidized schools – and what must be done to raise academic achievement for future generations.

Aside from that, nothing else in this debate matters. Sadly, while “Republicans” like Hayes and Martin obsess over the audacity of a man exercising his First Amendment freedoms in, thousands of South Carolina school children slip further beneath the waves … a pattern of generational failure which (as we noted in this recent piece) has proven resistent to any and all government-based reforms.

More tax money? Fail …

A new early childhood agency? Fail …

Government-administered accountability? Fail …

On every academic measurement that matters (SAT, ACT, graduation rate, etc.), South Carolina is falling further behind the rest of America – which is falling further behind the rest of the world. Of course to hear leftists like Hayes and Martin tell it, the real reason for the ongoing decline of our state’s government-run education system has been the “distraction” created by Rich’s school choice movement over the last few years.

Astounding …

South Carolina has a simple choice – it can either adopt market-based reforms which have proven effective at raising academic achievement, or it can continue pumping larger sums of tax money into a demonstrably failed government-run system.

Beyond that fundamental dynamic, nothing else in this debate really matters …