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Hugh Leatherman’s School Choice Farce



This website has pointed out repeatedly that South Carolina is a state which has no interest in helping itself. Both the state’s elected officials and the people who re-elect them seem willing – or at least consigned to – languishing a century behind the rest of Western Civilization.

Don’t believe us? Look at the numbers …

Nowhere is this resignation to failure more evident than in the state’s public education system. No matter how many indicators point to a sub-standard education being served up to thousands of children across the state, the powers-that-be seem perfectly content to excuse it with platitudes and guilt trips on taxpayers for not spending more than $9 billion a year.

Reform the system? Fuck no. That would mean breaking apart the political and financial fiefdoms that have been helping everyone but our children for decades.

This shameless profiteering and influence mongering at the expense of children is getting harder for the establishment to hide, though. State after state in the Southeast – including North Carolina and Georgia – has decided to strip power from state bureaucracies by passing school choice legislation.

How inconvenient for the one state not doing it.

The real “handwriting on the wall” moment for South Carolina educrats came this year, when Alabama pushed aside its incredibly powerful “education” establishment to pass the state’s first-ever school choice legislation. Now, South Carolina is literally surrounded by states that actually care about progress – not perpetuating failure.

Like the playground bully who turns and sees his lackeys scattering, the minions of the anti-reform establishment are finding themselves in need of a new tactic.

Thankfully for the educrats, the state’s preeminent icon of regress and corruption was on hand to offer a solution. Hugh Leatherman, who is struggling to maintain his own increasingly unstable patronage machine, is helping the educrats dodge reform in the most sad, desperate and condescending way possible. In the name of exploring the merits of school choice (you know, the merits that were apparent to every other fucking state in the South), Leatherman has created a “special subcommittee” of State Senators tasked with conducting school choice hearings around the state.

Which members of the state’s esteemed “deliberative body” did Leatherman nominate to this 4-man committee? Three quarters of the committee (that’s a “majority” for our Laurens readers) are made up of rabid school choice opponents: John Matthews, Wes Hayes and Joel Lourie. Token school choice supporter Danny Verdin rounds out the subcommittee.

You know, to make it “fair.”

As per the plan, this special subcommittee will sympathetically nod through a few hearings, then report earnestly to Leatherman that they just “weren’t convinced” people actually want a say in where their children attend school. The senators won’t get the chance to hear otherwise. In order to bring this sham to completion, the state’s educrat empires – the S.C. Association of School Administrators (SCASA), S.C. School Boards Association (SCSBA) and S.C. Education Association (SCEA) will dominate the hearings with the fear-mongering testimonies from their own employees.

And thanks to an unceasing spigot of public dollars, these parasites already have a political machine ready to mobilize in defense of their own self-preservation.

It’s tough luck for the homeschool families and private school faculty who don’t actually have a political arm subsidized by taxpayers. If they can’t break away from actually educating kids, then their voices will never be considered on an issue that affects them.

But everyone knows these meetings are about astroturfing, spectacle and providing status quo lawmakers with political cover, not input from constituents.

Leatherman’s pretended gesture of interest in education reform should be called out for what it is: a despicable farce.

In fact this whole situation is pure South Carolina: Elected officials looking toward what is working across every state border, and then either ignoring it, procedurally killing it or feigning reform so their constituents are fooled into thinking they actually did something. In the meantime spoils continue to flow to the chosen few, and parents and kids continue to lose.


Pic: Travis Bell Photography