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School Choice In SC: Finally



Meet Evan Cobb.

According to his mother, Dorothy, he’s an energetic 11-year-old boy currently in fifth grade at Hidden Treasure Christian School – one of the free market schools this website has written about as part of its “Miracle Factories” series.

“Evan’s special needs are not immediately apparent upon casually meeting him – he is outgoing and inquisitive and does not ‘look’ different,” Dorothy explains.

However, Evan’s ongoing struggles with a specific learning disability, issues related to processing speed, and marked ADHD led his parents to seek the individualized education that Hidden Treasure offers.

Has the school been a good fit?

Absolutely …

Evan’s skills in math have jumped dramatically so that he is now working on grade level, and his ability to function as part of his classroom group has dramatically improved. Just a couple of months ago, Evan successfully completed an overnight field trip with his class to the Tennessee Aquarium. Just this month, Evan has made the jump to wanting to complete his homework each night. In fact he is currently working on accumulating enough homework points to earn an invitation to his class’s end-of-year trip to Charleston.

Expanded academic achievement is only part of the equation.

When Evan started Hidden Treasure, the food choices that he would accept were rather limited. After months of “Try It Tuesdays” – plus a healthy dose of positive peer pressure – Evan now enjoys a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as cooked foods that have multiple textures. Socially, Evan is learning to take turns – understanding that it’s okay when others get to go first.

Evan is in his second year at Hidden Treasure, where his family receives financial aid to help pay the cost of tuition.

“We are extremely grateful for the Hidden Treasure financial aid that we receive,” Dorothy says. “While the monthly tuition is still a stretch, there is no way that we could afford the full amount that it costs.”

That’s where Advance Carolina comes in.  One of three scholarship funding organizations operating under South Carolina’s new special needs school choice program, the group has given Evan the Palmetto State’s first-ever school choice scholarship.

“We operate our family with no debt,” Dorothy says.  “We save up and use only cash to do or buy any/everything, including tuition each year for HTCS. Needless to say, it is quite a hefty check to write all at once…and it is a financial stretch for our family.”

It’s substantially easier now, though, which is the whole point of parental choice …

Evan’s mother says her family does not fit the stereotype of “private school” families. She’s a stay-at-home mom and part-time volunteer. Her husband, Paul, is a piping engineer.

They are normal people, in other words … the sort of people who don’t deserve for their exceptional needs child to be stuck in a failed top-down government run school, a place where bureaucrats crank out cookie cutter “individualized education plans” that are more about securing more taxpayer funding than they are about helping children.

Anyway …

We’ve written plenty on that in the past … this post is about a young man whose academic future just got exponentially brighter because of the willingness of state lawmakers to (at long last) grant limited choices to students who need them most.  Let’s hope they expand on those options moving forward.

All great movements begin with one defining moment … and the school choice movement in South Carolina experience such a moment this week.

Godspeed, Evan Cobb. Let’s hope hundreds of thousands of Palmetto State students follow in your footsteps …