Howard Rich: Not Backing Down On School Choice

Limited government advocate Howard Rich unloaded on his liberal critics in the mainstream media this week – while at the same time vowing to “redouble” his efforts on behalf of expanded parental choice in South Carolina. Rich also previewed how he intends to help push school choice – which passed…

howard rich fires back

Limited government advocate Howard Rich unloaded on his liberal critics in the mainstream media this week – while at the same time vowing to “redouble” his efforts on behalf of expanded parental choice in South Carolina. Rich also previewed how he intends to help push school choice – which passed the S.C. House of Representatives last year – through a recalcitrant State Senate.

In a no-holds-barred letter sent to S.C. Sen. Kevin Bryant (a letter which Bryant posted to his website), Rich refers to The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper as a “status quo mouthpiece” and a “liberal rag.” He also blasts the paper for running a “hit piece” on him as part of its “vendetta agains parental choice and those of us who support it.”

(For more on the “hit piece,” click here).

“What we are witnessing in South Carolina right now are the last gasps of a dying status quo – entrenched politicians (and their legacy media supporters) whose only remaining excuse for the poor performance of their government-run system is that parental choice has become a ‘distraction,'” Rich writes. “Clearly their House of Cards is close to toppling.”

He was just getting warmed up, too …

“(The State) believes that demonizing me (and the legal contributions I have made to candidates in South Carolina) passes for a legitimate argument against school choice,” Rich continues. “Meanwhile the paper does everything within its power to prop up the government-run school system in the Palmetto State – which as we know is falling further behind the rest of the nation (exacting larger and larger sums of money from the South Carolina taxpayers.)”

He’s absolutely right, of course … on both counts.

In addition to unloading on The State, Rich makes it clear he’s not about to give up the fight for expanded parental options.

“Every time I read one of these hit pieces, my commitment to the fundamental reforms we are advancing is redoubled” he writes. “When we started this fight we were nowhere in the S.C. General Assembly – now the S.C House has passed choice legislation and we were one rigged primary election away from getting it through the Senate. One way or the other choice is coming. It is only a matter of resources, planning and patience – and I can assure you we are blessed with an abundance of all three.”

Rich doesn’t just reaffirm his commitment, his letter to Bryant also previews his strategy moving forward – a legislative fight in 2013 followed by three years of non-stop campaigning.

“The Republican-controlled Senate will either pass school choice this year or it won’t,” he writes. “If it does, South Carolina’s children, parents and taxpayers will be better for it. If it does not, then school choice advocates will focus every bit of energy they have on the 2016 primaries.”

What sort of landscape does he envision for those primaries?

“2016 will not be a repeat of 2012 – in which incumbent-created protections denied challengers a chance to compete in an honest primary,” he writes. “Mark my words: Those currently running victory laps around the South Carolina State House after giving up more than a third of the vote to ‘petition candidates’ will be held accountable for their votes in a true GOP primary three years from now. And from what I am told, there will be an even broader coalition of pro-taxpayer, pro-free market interests aligned against them.”

Rich’s letter was the talk of the State House this week – and not just owing to its remarkable bluntness.

“A lot of Senators thought (Rich) was going to pull up stakes,” one State House source told us. “Looks like that ain’t happening.”

Looks like …

This website has long championed expanded parental choice – citing its proven effectiveness at raising academic achievement everywhere it’s been implemented. Accordingly, we view Rich’s letter as refreshing news.

Whether South Carolina’s status quo likes it or not, the fight goes on …


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Amen January 23, 2013 at 11:00 am

About damn time someone offers a reply to the TAXPAYER funded and TAXPAYER subsdized bullshit that comes from the SC school boards association, the SC school administrators, the SC education association, the Palmetto teachers associations, the so-called school improvement councils, and on and on and on.
Public schools in this state operate for adults, not for students. Nothing will change until each kid is free to come and go as their parents please. Bureaucracies only respond to their own self interest, never their “clients”

Nancy January 23, 2013 at 11:12 am

@Amen – couldn’t agree more!

CNSYD January 23, 2013 at 11:22 am

They are free to come and go. Are you saying that public schools will not let students transfer to private schools? Or are you saying private schools will not accept “certain” students?

James the Foot Soldier January 23, 2013 at 11:34 am

Students ALREADY are free to come and go as their parents please.

It’s called residing in a district best suited to meet your needs.

If you’re a po lo mo fo info libtard, the possibilities are endless.

If you’re a “libertarian” insistent on someone else paying for your child’s private education (where the students are cherry picked to keep them tucked away from the mongrels) you are (as you should be) shit out of luck.

If you want a mighty fine curriculum that will open doors for your child to the elite instituitons at the next level, the possibilities are plentiful with house after house after house sitting vacant in these waaaay more than adequate school districts.

In other words: if you really care about your child then you’d get off your ass and move all without needing a single dime of MY tax dollar to pay for YOUR child’s private education.

Let’s save the merits of the reverse wealth distribution scheme for another day.

Jan January 23, 2013 at 11:43 am

I can’t believe I am saying this. Excellent Post James.

Thebeachisback January 23, 2013 at 11:09 pm

I wonder how many of you who degrade public schools have been in one lately. Spend a week in a public school. Talk to teachers, students, and parents of all socioeconomic levels. Really evaluate what you perceive as not working and who is not pulling their weight. If we allow parents to take their chunk of education money and go to a private school great! But what about the kids who can’t make up the difference financially? what about the private schools who don’t want my kid in them because I am not at the same social level as their kids–my kids aren’t from the right side of the tracks. those schools will raise their tuition so it is still out of reach for me. New schools that crop up are not going to have the experience or accountability of public schools. They will begin by trial and error practice. But it’s the kids who have no choice who will fall through the cracks of our society. The public schools will be so underfunded that they will fail. I don’t propose an easy fix for our educational problems, but I do think that more first hand analysis from those who wish for the changes would be beneficial. If you haven’t been in a school, read the standards for your child’s grade, or if you havent talked with an educator,councilor, or principal since you were a student, please do so before you listen to those who wish to provide an education for only one segment of our society–the upper middle class. All South Carolina kids deserve better that what’s being proposed.

Nancy January 24, 2013 at 6:50 am

@Thebeachisback – please read the bill. Let’s say your kids aren’t from the “right side of the tracks” and you want to take them to another “public” school. Below is part of the bill that pertains to limited deductions to take them out of district. I wish it were a credit vs. deduction, but it isn’t about getting rid of public schools, it is about improving the quality of education. I know for me personally, just being able to take my daughter to another district with better performing schools, even without a deduction is very appealing. I have a 4 year old and a 24 year old. When my 24 year old was in High School, we had a population explosion and as a result the quality of education declined, a lot of turnover (principal and asst. principal were replaced) and in general it was a nightmare for me as a parent, you couldn’t even reach the superintendent and it was not a collaborative system – not entirely the school boards fault, they simply were not prepared to deal with the population explosion during housing boom. I would have loved to have had the option to take my son to another district, but that option was not available at the time.

“Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, a parent or legal guardian is entitled to a deduction against their State of South Carolina taxable income of up to one thousand dollars paid on behalf of their child or ward to attend a school in a school district which is not the school district of residence of the child or ward. This deduction is limited to a total of one thousand dollars per child per year regardless of the number of taxpayers making payments to another school district on behalf of that child. The deduction allowed by this subsection is fully deductible for the calendar year in which the school term begins provided the qualifying student completes the school term for that school year.”

silvereagle January 23, 2013 at 11:08 am

It is unfortunate that he doesn’t use all those energies in making the public school system better rather than tearing it down.

Nancy January 23, 2013 at 11:18 am

@silvereagle we continue to throw more money at public schools, but are they getting better? More money does not equal better education. Remember all those pay raises last year and then the additional 10 MIL one time money spent on pay raises? How is that working for us? How about that NCLB? SC ranks near the bottom in education and for more than a decade school choice has failed. In addition to school choice, I would also like to see some voucher programs. Competition IMHO is the key to creating better education for our children – why is it that people don’t seem to understand the school system is there to serve the needs of our children, not the needs of the adults working the system. Obviously more money thrown at public education is not working, we need change. John Stossel has a number of videos on YouTube called “Stupid In America” – I think are on point when it comes to education and solutions.

Jan January 23, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Nancy, no intelligent person is buying this argument. None of the school choice bills have anything to do with improving South Carolina’s public school system. They are designed to put money into the pocket of people who have already abandoned the public school system, and who believe they should not be asked to support public education. Further despite Mr. Rich’s statements there is not one shred of verifiable evidence any voucher program has improved the public school system anywhere.

You have Universal School Choice. Send your kid to whatever school you want, but don’t ask the rest of us to give you money because you do not want to send your kid to public school. We paid to educate our children now you pay to educate yours.

There are plenty of excellent public schools in this state, just as there are plenty of bad public schools. Likewise there are good private schools and bad private schools. You already complain that spending more money on the public school system would not help. So why should the taxpayers invest in SC’s worst in the nation private schools. Especially, when most of their children could not even go to the few good private schools.

If you believe sending kids in failing public schools to private school will help the public school, then support a bill that offers vouchers to students who are attending failing schools who cannot afford private school, with the understanding that when the public school improves they will return to the public school. Otherwise you are just another person seeking a tax payer handout. Maybe you should consider getting a job to pay for your kids education.

Fleet January 23, 2013 at 4:57 pm

My wife and I moved to an area with excellent public schools, after buying a home in an area did not. We stayed involved with their education, went to “Back to school nights”, and met with guidance counselors making sure that they were taking the courses that they needed to take to get into the university of their choice. Both kids went to a top 20 university on a partial scholarship.
Are my kids smarter than most? Probably not. Did we set standards for their grades and behavior? Absolutely.
A number of our friends said that our kids shouldn’t go to a university that cost us money, as they were offered full rides to other universities. My reply was that I was glad to give up a lake house and expensive cars to give my kids a great education in a private university.
My point is this. Parents are in charge of their kids education. Stay involved, keep in contact with teachers and guidance counselors, and your kids will do fine. The high school my kids went to have over half the students on free or reduced lunch.
Want to send your kids to a private school? Then pay for it yourself. If you don’t want to pay for a private school, get involved and stay involved in your kids education.

Nancy January 23, 2013 at 7:17 pm

@ Jan – have you read the bill? It is a tax deduction last I checked – so taxpayers aren’t investing anything. I pay for my children’s education out of pocket with no tax deduction and school choice will not change that for me. BUT, this is designed to help people who cannot afford to send their children to private schools but want to. I would prefer it to be a credit, so that it would help more of the “poor”. BTW – I also support voucher programs, my hope is to create competition and thereby improving education.

hhuuhh?? January 23, 2013 at 11:12 am

The link below is not just about tax breaks for Georgia private school scholarships and gay teenagers.
It’s about the REAL reason there is such a push for tax breaks/vouchers/tax credits across this country – Georgia state legislators making bucks getting jobs with the scholarship entities.

This is an earlier story detailing how the legislator corruption works hand in hand with vouchers/tax credits/tax breaks for private schools and scholarships for them:

Private contractors taking over government functions (here or in Afghnaistan) leads to waste and corruption.

ceilidh10 January 23, 2013 at 11:44 am

Send your brats to private school. Let the poor kids eat cake. Howard Rich is a plutocrat who wants to dictate to South Carolina what HE wants the state to do. Sorry, but the rich do not rule us. Mr. Rich can cram that apple for the teacher up his tired old asscrack.

Tom January 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Regarding Mr. Rich’s letter and attack on the State Newspaper, as my grandpa use to say, “The shot dog yelps.” Rich should have to disclose which politicians he is attempting to buy.

Jan January 23, 2013 at 1:07 pm

These are the politicians he bought last session, and the price he paid for them.

Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg – $12,000
Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson – $4,000
Sen.. Thomas Corbin, R-Greenville – $5,000
Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville – $11,000
Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston – $4,000
Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Dorchester – $2,000
Sen. Greg Hembree, R-Horry – $7,000
Sen. Paul Thurmond, R-Charleston – $1,000
Rep. Liston Barfield, R-Horry – $1,000
Rep. Eric Bedingfield, R-Greenville – $1,000
Rep. Don Bowen, R-Anderson – $2,000
Rep. William Chumley, R-Spartanburg – $10,000
Rep. Nelson Hardwick, R-Horry – $1,000
Rep. Josh Putnam, R-Anderson – $8,000
Rep. Samuel Rivers, petition candidate, Charleston – $2,000

These are the politicians he bought but who failed to win their elections.

Tony Barwick, R-Sumter – $15,000
Rex Rice, petition candidate, Easley – $20,000
Sen. Michael Rose, R-Dorchester – $10,000
Sen. David Thomas, R-Greenville – $11,000
Joe Thompson, petition candidate, York – $25,000
Jennings McAbee, R-McCormick – $3,000

baker January 23, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Just curious — did you write this letter for Mr. Rich?

BigT January 23, 2013 at 1:47 pm

The Public Education industry is like Race Relations, ‘Green’ energy and HealthCare…

Let the liberals own it, and they EFF it up, TOTALLY….

Nowhere is Liberal Failure more Obvious than in Education. The LEFT has a strangle hold on education….and it is an Absolute joke…We just keep lavishing money on education and it just gets worse…

And like eveyhing Else…the left does not give a $#!* about the children that are left broken and ignorant by their bad actions…

Liberals just get PHAT and feed their Fitlhy greed…and laugh at the poor slobs they leave screwed up…

Thebeachisback January 23, 2013 at 11:27 pm

When was the last time you gave of yourself and helped out Ina troubled school? Education is. To about liberal or conservative;it is about meeting the needs of students whose parents trust us to NOT be Biased, racist, or discriminate. We need public schools-they strive to deliver equal education to the children of our state–this is accomplished through planning and accountability–not by comparing W2s! All children have the right to learn. Teachers should have the right to teach the standards put forth by the common core standards. There is no quick fix or bandaid for education. We learn as we do. When we see a better formula for success, we try it. It’s not a perfect science because we’re dealing with imperfect students, parents, and teachers who only want to see children succeed, we’re also smart enough to know public vs private–win or lose–is only important if it benefits a child. So get involved, roll up you sleeves and become a learner about the way education REALLY works in SC. My hop is that you will be pleasantly surprised.

toyota kawaski January 23, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Yesah i agree you need to show off your sexy legs and ballhead more and turn up your tone. Yesah please pick up some warming LUBE my shemale and its friends are joining us for salad.

Amused Observer January 23, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Is Uncle Howie going to beat us with his wallet if he doesn’t get his way?

Fleet January 23, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Fit’s monthly boat payment is due.

Booyah January 23, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Common people suck, and allowing taxpayers to remove their money while at the same time removing the burden of educating their offspring is completely reasonable.

I went to boarding schools and benefitted from being with a better class of people than public school trash. This country needs MORE of an explicit class system dedicated to nurturing superior people away from hood rats and broom pushers.

The South has always had elites and peons. We are better off if we allow economic segregation, which is the fairest way to separate wheat from chaff.

Fleet January 23, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Booyah, if you want to do that, fine you pay for it. Where is this going to stop? Let’s say that I’m unhappy with my police dept. Can I get a voucher to hire my own private security guard?

Booyah January 23, 2013 at 6:29 pm

The school choice concept ALLOWS those who want to do that to do so at ZERO loss to the community.

A police department is not a valid comparison because school choice can be fragmented with no loss in quality, and a gain in quality where superior students can attend private schools.

A police or fire department is a COMMUNITY force embedded in the community because that is proven to be the best way to meet those needs. Private fire departments were tried long ago, ditto private police (Pinkertons among others).

A private school takes nothing from the community, and a quality private school enhances the community.

Nobody loses with school choice. No additional burden falls on anyone.

I don’t have kids so have nothing to gain but the social benefit from some folks getting a quality education away from the hood rats, trailer trash and other human garbage.

Nancy January 23, 2013 at 8:12 pm

@ Booyah I keep reading the same thing about that “additional burden”? That just tells me those people have not even read the bill nor do they have a clue what they are talking about. Far too many assumptions on their part.

Fleet January 23, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Sorry, but I disagree. Are you telling me that the very rich and famous do not have their own security guards that they pay for? Think again.
What the private schools take away are monies from public schools under a voucher system. Do some research if you don’t believe me. If you don’t want your future children to rub elbows with the great unwashed, pay your own way. My kids went to a public high school and got a great education. Read my post above if you wish.
Have a great day.

Jan January 23, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Fleet, what you are seeing from Booyah is what private schools are teaching their students about children who go to public school. They believe they should not have to pay for public education because everyone who goes to a public school is less deserving than everyone who goes to private school. Its OK to force all the “hood rats, trailer trash, and human garbage i.e. people who send their kids to public school, to help pay for the nice people to go to private school.

Booyah will probably blow daddy’s money so his kids better get ready for their hood rat status.

Nancy January 23, 2013 at 8:20 pm

@Jan and Fleet – you simply don’t get it. This program is to help those who cannot afford any other alternative to public school. It’s a small start, but this definitely is NOT for some rich person – the rich cannot deduct this! I can’t even deduct college tuition, but I support this bill, because I strongly believe that competition will improve education for all of us. It isn’t replacing public education and to my knowledge people are still required to pay taxes for education. Good grief, you sound so paranoid you don’t even recognize help when it is offered, but prefer to think that someone is dissing on “human garbage” when in fact we are trying to do just the opposite.

shifty henry January 23, 2013 at 7:04 pm

…… good posts, folks…(read and initialed)

Fleet January 23, 2013 at 8:14 pm

I read the bill-twice. It will cost the state an estimated $5 million in tax revenue.

Nancy January 23, 2013 at 8:31 pm

@Fleet – how are you arriving at that number?

Nancy January 23, 2013 at 8:33 pm

“Senate Bill 279 provides tax credit-funded scholarships to low-income and special needs students, and modest tax deductions for families with students enrolled in private schools, or who homeschool.”

Fleethat voted for it. January 23, 2013 at 8:39 pm

From my house representative t

Fleet January 23, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Sorry-keyboard problems. From my house representative that voted for it.

Fleet January 23, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Nancy, thanks for the psychoanalysis. Poor kids can’t afford to go to Porter-Gaud, Bishop England, and Hammond Academy, with or without this bill. Most school districts have school ice within their districts. If you want better schools, I suggest that you mentor a child from those schools, like my wife and I do.

Fleet January 23, 2013 at 8:43 pm

I’m having keyboard problems-sorry for the choppy posts. “School choice”, not “school ice”. It’s obvious that neither side is going to change the other’s minds. Have a great day, I’m done.

Nancy January 23, 2013 at 8:46 pm

@ Fleet – who is your HOR? I would love to talk to him/her. I feel that is totally misleading. These are deductions and credits, which will lower an individuals taxable income if they qualify. The average cost per student is appx $11,000 and this is paid for via taxes, I cannot fathom that the deduction/credits per person will even be in the ballpark of what it costs to send student to public school. Not mention this year they have added credits and it looks like the ability to send your child to another “public” school that is not in your district, which is not an option at this time.


toyota kawaski January 24, 2013 at 8:22 am

Hey Nancy get my dam eggs cooked and they better not be runny

Nancy January 24, 2013 at 9:51 am

For those of you who aren’t happy with the way the bill is written, why not ask for an amendment to include direct vouchers?

“But Pennsylvania Sen. Anthony Williams, a Democrat, says too many low-income kids stuck in persistently failing schools in some of the neighborhoods he represents in Philadelphia go to unsafe schools and can’t wait for a change. He calls the private boarding school he attended in high school on a private scholarship a “lifesaver,” and he’s advocating for legislation that would create a voucher program. He said even if a public voucher wouldn’t cover all the tuition, private scholarships can help fill the void.

“I believe a child should not be required to go to a place like that,” Williams said of low-performing schools. “They should have options just like anybody else in America does and it will serve us better in the long run as opposed to requiring them to go to a place that we know they don’t get the rudimentary skills.” Source: The Freidman Foundation for Educational Choice, AP | School Vouchers Spark Growing Court Fights in US

Friday, April 06, 2012

Nancy January 24, 2013 at 9:34 am

@ toyota Kawaski cook your own damn eggs…LOL

hhuuhh?? January 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Nancy, I’m sick of you takers wanting tax expenditure after tax expenditure while you fool yourselves that it’s NOT the same as a government check.

Nancy January 24, 2013 at 12:54 pm

@hhuuhh – maybe you get to know your audience before you make assumptions. Maybe you could even start by reading this thread. I won’t get any “tax expenditure” – I don’t even qualify to write off college tuition. If you could see the taxes my family has paid this year your jaw would probably hit the floor. You might then understand that I’m not a “taker” – the Government is “taking” from me. I am willing to pay education taxes in support of public schools, but I want choice – even if I have to pay for it out of pocket. I want better education for ALL children. A tax deduction my friend is not the same as a government check – BIG difference. One you pay into, the you just take out.

BIN News Funding Editor January 26, 2013 at 10:21 pm

It’s putrid…

…to see Howie the Voucher Clown fawning over one of his favorite voucher pimps.

Wonder how much Howie has paid this voucher pimp for his vote?

Here is our Funding Editor’s letter to Kevin:

Dear Kevin,

Yes. Public education in SC has issues that need to be addressed.

You know what they are.

Poverty. Funding. Latent racism. And the brazillions of social issues that go along.

Fix them, Kevin.

Then we will discuss Howie’s voucher scam.

Kevin, vouchers are a scam because they would only leave those who need help the most even further behind.

Kevin, many say you have been bought and paid for by Howie the Voucher Clown. Say it’s not so….

Post here, Kevin. Defend the voucher scam if you dare.

The Most Honorable Funding Editor
BIN News


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