SC

SC Education Reform: Points On The Board

South Carolina’s left-leaning State Senate took a few baby steps toward real reform this week – approving tax credits for private school teachers who purchase their own school supplies and creating tax-exempt scholarship granting organizations (SGOs) for students with special needs. Both reforms were included in the FY 2013-14 budget…

South Carolina’s left-leaning State Senate took a few baby steps toward real reform this week – approving tax credits for private school teachers who purchase their own school supplies and creating tax-exempt scholarship granting organizations (SGOs) for students with special needs.

Both reforms were included in the FY 2013-14 budget plan adopted by the Senate this week – and both were back by several lawmakers who have historically opposed such common sense measures.

The school supply tax credit will total $275 a year for teachers (i.e. the same reimbursement that’s already provided to teachers in government-run schools), while the SGOs are capped at $5 million – with a $10,000 scholarship limit.

Bear in mind: Neither of these reforms even approaches the scaled down parental choice bill passed by the S.C. House of Representatives last year … to say nothing of the broad universal parental choice legislation we support. But they do represent two steps in the right direction – and lawmakers who have historically opposed education reform deserve a small measure of credit for taking those steps.

“Two significant things happened, the amendment offered by Kevin Bryant providing tax credits to those who wish to help exceptional needs children is very significant, and my amendment for teachers providing them with school supply credits is also significant,” said S.C. Sen. Tom Davis, one of the State Senate’s most aggressive free market conservatives.

As for his special needs scholarship amendment, Bryant wrote on his blog that it represented “a very small step, however, it is a positive step to assist families with exceptional needs children in that it gives them a choice of where they obtain their child’s education.”

Senators who didn’t object to either amendment? Some of the same fiscal liberals who have been bottling up other needed reforms – including Thomas Alexander, Paul Campbell, John Courson, Ronnie Cromer, Wes Hayes, Hugh Leatherman, Larry Martin and Billy O’Dell.

“Both (amendments) represent footholds in this larger struggle to provide school choice to the parents and children of South Carolina,” Davis added.

Of course Davis said he is not satisfied with the progress made by the Senate – and told us he’s hopeful the S.C. House of Representatives will expand the choice parameters in the coming weeks prior to final passage of the budget.

“Again, we need to expand these beachheads – these foundations – and there are ways the House can expand them,” Davis said.

He’s right … and we fervently hope they do expand them. Because these baby steps, while helpful, aren’t nearly enough to get our worst-in-the-nation government-run school system turned around.

Still, it’s important not to minimize the fact that previously recalcitrant South Carolina Senators have – at long last – creaked open the door ever so slightly to long-overdue free market reforms.

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12 comments

Baker May 24, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Perhaps the special needs scholarships can be helpful to some families, but one irony about this one is that it’s the public schools that generally do — by far! — the most to support students with special needs. Big, big money is spent to hire teachers and teachers’ assistants and specialists, to have small class sizes, to provide special equipment, to even outsource to private entities for particular services.

Meanwhile, a great many private schools offer no special education services at all.

So — yeah, maybe there will be some families to find help in a private school — and I know there a few that specialize in helping with, for example, learning disabilities. But the vast majority of special education services are to be found in the public education system…..not in private schools.

Reply
Howie Richs Neighbor May 24, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Hey dont confuse Fits with the facts!Public schools are BAD!

Reply
Jan May 24, 2013 at 6:20 pm

It will be interesting to see if any of those SGOs publicize or even offer scholarships to kids who are currently in public schools. I’m betting not.

Reply
A Friend May 24, 2013 at 9:32 pm

“it’s the public schools that generally do — by far! — the most to support students with special needs.”

Perhaps that’s because most special needs students go to public schools because their families don’t have options… this bill would give them those options.

Reply
Baker May 24, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Perhaps the special needs scholarships can be helpful to some families, but one irony about this one is that it’s the public schools that generally do — by far! — the most to support students with special needs. Big, big money is spent to hire teachers and teachers’ assistants and specialists, to have small class sizes, to provide special equipment, to even outsource to private entities for particular services.

Meanwhile, a great many private schools offer no special education services at all.

So — yeah, maybe there will be some families to find help in a private school — and I know there a few that specialize in helping with, for example, learning disabilities. But the vast majority of special education services are to be found in the public education system…..not in private schools.

Reply
Howie Richs Neighbor May 24, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Hey dont confuse Fits with the facts!Public schools are BAD!

Reply
Jan May 24, 2013 at 6:20 pm

It will be interesting to see if any of those SGOs publicize or even offer scholarships to kids who are currently in public schools. I’m betting not.

Reply
A Friend May 24, 2013 at 9:32 pm

“it’s the public schools that generally do — by far! — the most to support students with special needs.”

Perhaps that’s because most special needs students go to public schools because their families don’t have options… this bill would give them those options.

Reply
nitrat May 25, 2013 at 8:33 am

Few private schools will accept truly special needs students (blind, deaf, profound CP, profound mental retardation, emotionally disabled, other serious disabilities) because they know they don’t have the resources to deal with their special needs.
It’s a shame that these legislators have such an apparently limited idea of what special needs encompasses. It’s not just about dyslexia and other comparatively trivial learning disabilities.

Reply
nitrat May 25, 2013 at 8:33 am

Few private schools will accept truly special needs students (blind, deaf, profound CP, profound mental retardation, emotionally disabled, other serious disabilities) because they know they don’t have the resources to deal with their special needs.
It’s a shame that these legislators have such an apparently limited idea of what special needs encompasses. It’s not just about dyslexia and other comparatively trivial learning disabilities.

Reply
Ass Blow May 26, 2013 at 10:41 am

South Carolina Public Schools are horrible. They are closer to prisons in their structure especially in the more poverty stricken area of the state. It’s a shame that people have to pay public school taxes and receive less than substandard education. So if you care about your kids and their safety private school is the way to go. Just too bad parents have to support the dysfunctional public/government ran schools.

Reply
Ass Blow May 26, 2013 at 10:41 am

South Carolina Public Schools are horrible. They are closer to prisons in their structure especially in the more poverty stricken area of the state. It’s a shame that people have to pay public school taxes and receive less than substandard education. So if you care about your kids and their safety private school is the way to go. Just too bad parents have to support the dysfunctional public/government ran schools.

Reply

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