National Politics - 2016

Jeb Bush, Nikki Haley And The Presidential Politics Of Parental Choice

SOMEBODY DESPERATELY WANTS A “FIRST IN THE SOUTH” ENDORSEMENT … Earlier this month we railed against S.C. governor Nikki Haley‘s so-called “education” plan – a costly monument to government excess (one that would route hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending and borrowing to the Palmetto State’s abysmal government-run school…


Earlier this month we railed against S.C. governor Nikki Haley‘s so-called “education” plan – a costly monument to government excess (one that would route hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending and borrowing to the Palmetto State’s abysmal government-run school system).

Wait … haven’t we doubled down on “one size fits none” failure in the Palmetto State previously?

Yes … we have.  And it didn’t work.

In fact a little over a year ago the S.C. Supreme Court – led at the time by liberal chief justice Jean Toal – acknowledged as much in its constitutionally controversial “minimally adequate” ruling.

In its verdict, the court ruled that the Palmetto State’s government-run education system (an effective monopoly in most corners of the state) was not fulfilling its constitutional duty to provide a “minimally adequate” education in poor, rural districts.  Surprisingly, the court also stated – explicitly – what we’ve been saying for years, namely that throwing more money at this failed system has not worked.

“Spending fails to provide students with the opportunity to obtain a minimally adequate education,” the court concluded. “Rather, the evidence demonstrates that there is a clear disconnect between spending and results.”

Amen to that … if only “Republicans” and Democrats at the S.C. State House understood that (spoiler alert … they don’t).

During her six years in the S.C. House of Representatives from 2005-11, Haley was a passionate advocate for expanded parental choice in South Carolina.  In fact that’s one of the issues that helped catapult Haley onto the statewide stage – and earned her the support of the Tea Party movement in the 2010 “Republican” gubernatorial primary.

Unfortunately, Haley made an abrupt U-Turn on education policy the moment she secured the GOP nomination – and has continued down the wrong road ever since.

The result of her status quo reversion?  More failure for Palmetto State school children … especially when compared to Florida, where former governor Jeb Bush consistently engaged market-based reforms during his tenure from 1999-2007.

While we do not support Bush’s presidential aspirations, we have always praised his support for expanded parental choice – especially when he brought that message to early-voting South Carolina, a state where a fledgling special needs choice program is currently up and running (and has even seen a few modest expansions).

Unfortunately, South Carolina’s parental choice program is far short of what Florida implemented – which is why our state’s children continue to lag far behind their national peers.  Even more unfortunately, Haley refuses to support parental choice – believing instead that government should follow the same failed “more money” approach that has held back hundreds of thousands of Palmetto State school children for decades.

So … what does Bush’s Florida-based Foundation for Excellence in Education have to say about Haley’s big government “solutions?”

Astoundingly, the organization released a statement this week praising Haley for ostensibly laying out a budget “that moves education reform forward.”  The group also applauded Haley “for her leadership in continuing to improve the education system and prioritizing student learning and success.”

Huh?  Exactly what education proposal are these ostensibly pro-parental choice people looking at?

Because the last time we checked, a plan that spends (and borrows) hundreds of millions in new money and then pumps it into the same demonstrably ineffective, totally unaccountable government-run system is neither “reform” nor “leadership.”

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times …

If our state ever hopes to achieve real economic progress (as opposed to bribing companies to come here with your tax dollars), then South Carolina’s future generations can no longer be held hostage by our failed “one size fits none” government education system.  That means our leaders must – at long last – start putting the needs of individual children first, not continue bowing down to the bureaucrats holding all of us back.

Lawmakers must expand school choice.  Dramatically.  And make it part of permanent state law.

Only then will be begin to see the sort of academic gains that money clearly couldn’t buy …

We were even more shocked to see Bush’s group praise Molly Spearman – the recently elected superintendent of education who previously served as the lead lobbyist for the uber-liberal education bureaucracy.

Reading the fine print, the group praised Haley for her support of expanded public school choice – which as we’ve repeatedly pointed out isn’t market-based reform because the money stays within the government system.

Seriously, South Carolina doesn’t need “seven new schools (in) the South Carolina Public Charter School District,” it needs hundreds of new private and parochial institutions springing up from an empowered consumer economy – one fueled by parents provided with at least a percentage of the $13,000 the state currently spends per year per child.

That is market-based reform …

And before you say that’s a “risky scheme,” bear in mind that the alternative is to continue giving automatic funding increases to these people.

We get that Jeb Bush wants Nikki Haley’s status quo endorsement in the upcoming “First in the South” presidential primary.  That’s why his campaign has been working overtime to drive a wedge between Haley and the other establishment frontrunner, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

But trotting out a supposedly pro-school choice group … and having it praise Haley for continuing to sell out to big government?

That’s no way to advance a movement …

Shame on Haley for betraying South Carolina’s future generations in the name of political expediency.  And shame on Bush’s group for giving her a pat on the back for it.


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No more one room school houses January 22, 2016 at 12:28 pm

The SCEA and all the pols affiliation with the education gravy train will never allow a truly competitive system with taxpayer dollars going anywhere but a government run system.

That’s just that. Taxpayer funded lobbying/favors that create the need for even more taxpayer money is nothing new, in fact, it’s really part of the fabric of American government on all levels for quite some time now. The Republic has been loooong lost.

This is just one of many examples of it.

Torch January 22, 2016 at 12:30 pm

Somebody correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t the state provide the same amount of money for each student? What seems to make up the difference in schools is the tax base in each school district. In Richland and Lexington there are lots of homes, homes of higher value and businesses. In say McCormick county, there are fewer houses, houses of high value and businesses. The tax base of Richland/Lexington makes up the difference in the school fonding. Ithe appears that Rich/Lex 5 has money out the wazoo and turns out above average students. Fits arguments leaves this out of the equation.

fl ? p January 22, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Of course it is left out. School choice isn’t meant to be a fair and honest way of fixing education, why be fair and honest about supporting it?

Annie January 22, 2016 at 12:33 pm

Stick a fork in Haley and Bush. They’re done!

9" January 22, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Too many people in SC get married,and have children.They’re dumb,and their kids are dumb,too.

Have any 100 IQ friends? January 22, 2016 at 1:10 pm

Average IQ being 100, you quickly realize that the system is trying to turn proverbial sow ear’s into silk purses.

It’s be better to pile the money up and set it on fire in the winter so it at least keeps people warm.

If breeders actually had to pay for their kids education instead of school being a “tragedy of the commons” then things would be a lot better. Not perfect mind you, but better.

9" January 22, 2016 at 1:31 pm

I hate elitism,but good point.There are different types of ‘intelligence’ and not all are understood,such as, dogs.There are an endless number of ways to get from,A to B…

Derp January 22, 2016 at 1:37 pm

You know what’s really dumb?
The way you use commas.

Bible Thumper January 22, 2016 at 2:14 pm

That second sentence is a fragment. :-)

Bible Thumper January 22, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Too many people in SC don’t get married and have children.

Bible Thumper January 22, 2016 at 2:10 pm

South Carolina has the tenth highest population growth rate, but according to the last Census 15 counties are declining in population. They are mostly along the “corridor of shame.

The only reliable predictor of student achievement is family background. Surprisingly, the parents don’t even have to be that involved — only have to have high expectations. Only if their child doesn’t meet their expectations, do they become involved. Many poor parents have low expectation or have bought in to the idea that it is the experts responcibility. Choice, however, forces parent involvement. Parents then take ownership of their child’s education instead of handing responsibility over to the state.

Those few children in the “corridor of shame” who are successful, go to college are unlikely to return to these blighted declining counties.

Other educated or middle-class couples don’t choose these areas to raise their families. They are not going to send their children to these schools with a predominantly poor black population no matter how much money is poured into them. It is pointless to argue whether it is racism. It doesn’t change the situation.

I believe that vochers that can be used at any school, public or private, with some reasonable open enrollment policy or some space set aside for lottery placement is the only way to encourage the kind of skilled and educated families that could spur economic development to move to these areas.

Vochers with proper rules would more successfully desegregate private schools than the courts have in the public schools in these counties.

I know some of you opponents of this will say that if you want vouchers then the private schools can’t limit enrollment. That is just a way to guarantee failure. Private schools would not participate if they were expected to accept a flood of new students or they had to refuse current students. It is disingenuous.

Disappointed January 22, 2016 at 6:26 pm

I voted for Molly Spearman, hoping she would govern more conservatively. Instead, she has become a tax and spend big government educrat.

She seems to constantly be attending social functions and collecting awards from these Education Establishment. Expect nothing from her except larger budgets.

CorruptionInColumbia January 23, 2016 at 3:11 am

That race was but one more of many in SC where your choices came down to voting for a turd or a piece of shit.

Santiago Ledbetter January 22, 2016 at 6:41 pm

So, if I understand correctly, this website opposes public tax money subsidizing big business and industry, because that’s anti-free-market… but advocates for public tax money subsidizing parents who have the means to make up the difference in cost of elite high-dollar private schools for their children, because that’s… um… *pro* free market?

Fleet January 24, 2016 at 9:02 pm

When is that boat going to be paid off Willie?


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