The “Education Opportunity Act” was introduced March 4 and commentary (Greenville News) was provided in support of this bill by Republican Representative Bedingfield and Democrat Senator Ford:
As elected officials go, a lot of people might be tempted to view us as the “odd couple.”
One of us is black, the other white. One is a Republican, the other a Democrat. One is from the Lowcountry, the other from the Upstate. We wear different clothes, listen to different music and watch different TV shows.
In a word, we are “unique” — which means we have something in common with the hundreds of thousands of children who attend our state’s public schools.
We have all heard the expression “that which unites us is stronger than that which divides us,” and that is more true today than ever before. In fact, that “unity” in pursuit of a common aim is why we are joining with dozens of our colleagues from across the state to lead the fight for long-overdue parental school choice in education.
How can we honestly call ourselves a culture that celebrates diversity and individual empowerment if thousands of children remain trapped in failing schools as part of a “one size fits all” system?
Senate Bill 520 (Education Opportunity Act) proposes this for South Carolina homeschoolers: “To allow a tax credit of up to one thousand dollars per student for a person who teaches his student at home”.
Ford and Bedingfield commentary continued:
Our proposal is simple — we would take roughly half of the money our state currently spends per child and allow parents to choose a school setting that fits their child’s needs through a SC Opportunity Tax Credit. It would only be an average credit of $2,500, which pales in comparison to what the state spends to educate children today.
For our lower income families who may not have a tax liability, we are allowing scholarships be made available for families to send their children to the school of their choice. The scholarship program has been successfully implemented in Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, and Ohio. It’s time we give opportunities to our lower income families to free them from decaying failing schools and give their children the opportunity they deserve.
Public, private, parochial — the choice would be up to the parents.
South Carolina’s Voice for School Choice (“committed to presenting timely and informative information regarding the need for expanding educational opportunities and options“) says this:
Ford emboldened in support for School Choice
March 24, 2009
The righteous indignation of South Carolina Senator Robert Ford (D-Charleston) over the persistent failure of public schools in South Carolina is attracting a lot of attention.
Sen. Ford, a Democrat who represents a heavily minority and primarily low-income district, is a lead sponsor of the SC Educational Opportunity Act. The bill expands access to private and homeschool classrooms through personal and corporate tax credits. Late last week, shocked parents in Charleston learned that principals at failing schools in Ford’s district would be receiving generous personal bonuses, despite the fact that student performance continues to stagnate.
Oxymoron: Homeschooling and classrooms?
Other news coverage of the issue:
Sen. Robert Ford to unveil school choice plan| WCBD
AP / March 24, 2009
Bill would give parents choices for child’s educational needs /The People Sentinel
Jared Guadagni /March 19, 2009
Privatizing public schools would be wrong choice / The Post and Courier
Jon Butzon and the Rev. Joseph Darby / March 7, 2009