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SC Education Monopoly: “Minimally Whatever”



sc education oversight committee


S.C. Rep. James Smith (D-Columbia) wants to change South Carolina’s constitution to reflect what he believes would be a deeper commitment to our state’s failing government-run school system. You know … because the nearly $12,000 per child taxpayers spend each year propping up this anti-competitive abomination apparently isn’t “deep” enough for him.

Seriously … we’ve given our “public schools” more money than God. We’ve also tried government’s definition of accountability (a.k.a. moving the goalposts for them). We even created a brand spankin’ new state agency to “better prepare” children to enter kindergarten. And guess what … our state’s academic achievement STILL sucks.

And it’s getting worse …

James Smith

James Smith

Anyway, Smith’s bill – H. 3255 – would ask voters to amend the current language of the constitution, which requires the state to provide a “minimally adequate” education. In place of “minimally adequate,” Smith would substitute “high-quality” education – one “allowing every student to reach their highest potential.”

Yeah … that ought to do it.

Frankly we would strike the whole damn thing. And replace it with “nada,” which for those of you educated in one of our state’s government-run schools means “nothing.” Our government-run schools aren’t terrible because of a century-old definition, they’re terrible because they lack any incentive to become something better (i.e. competition).

Why do we say this? Because government has conclusively demonstrated it has no business whatsoever running an education system. Don’t believe us? Check Exhibit A: South Carolina … which is falling further behind the rest of the United States, which itself is falling further behind the rest of the world.

So … how do we fix that?

Not with more money … or more government-run programs. And certainly not by subbing out a few words in our state constitution in a backdoor effort to justify additional funding increases. If our leaders were serious about providing a “high quality” education (or for that matter a minimally adequate one) to this state’s future generations, they would take every penny of the $12,000 they appropriate per pupil and give it directly to parents and scholarship granting organizations.

This way the ultimate accountability – the accountability of the marketplace – would be allowed to take hold the way it has everywhere else expanded parental choice has been implemented.

We’ve been conditioned over the years to believe there are no “silver bullets” in public policy – no guaranteed fixes to what ails us as a society. That’s not true. The power of the marketplace is a silver bullet – and at this point it’s painfully evident our state needs to fire it sooner rather than later.

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