I find it intriguing that the left in our state and country seem to favor choice, so long as there’s only one option. In keeping with the liberal tradition of “tolerance” that doesn’t tolerate dissenting opinions, the left, and far too many who claim conservatism, support “education” so long as that means pumping billions of dollars into a failing system of failed schools.
[mp3player width=600 height=150 config=player.xml playlist=school-choice.xml]Such is the case here in South Carolina. For far too long, politicians of both parties have placed the special interests of teachers’ unions and educational bureaucrats above the common interest of providing an excellent education for our state’s children. I’ve watched as, year in and year out, our state’s supposedly-Republican legislature has voted to side with unions over liberty, only to shoot down real educational reform.
Educational choice is, and ought to be recognized as, a foundational freedom for all American families. Children’s views of the world are shaped in the formative years of grade school education, which is why the classroom is the front line in the battle for America’s future. With that in mind, it’s no wonder why secular-progressives have spent nearly limitless time and resources to create a state-run educational system that shapes a future of secular liberals. While we who believe in limited government and liberty came late to the party, there are still more of us than of those who would brainwash our children into beliefs we’d never teach them ourselves. That’s why, this year, we must fight to carry school choice across the finish line.
Not only are our shared American Values of faith, family and freedom jeopardized by the leftist take-over of education, but our financial freedom is as well. Our currently socialist-style, state run, top-down educational system not only indoctrinates our kids, it explodes government spending. In 2009, the most recent year in which comprehensive figures were provided for educational spending in our state, the total government expenditure on our 49th in the nation public school system topped $8.8 billion. This is simply unacceptable and, frankly, immoral. Even with such spending, we have the South Carolina Education Association (SCEA), which is the state arm of the National Education Association (NEA), which is one of the largest public employee unions in the country, lobbying for more. The SCEA and the NEA are one and the same, and they seek expanded state and federal educational spending, not to aid children, but to pad the pockets of their union members and to funnel millions to liberal political campaigns and organizations.
In order to break the back of South Carolina’s only public employee union (though they won’t call themselves that), and to end the failed abuses of our Democratically dominated educational bureaucracy, I’d ask you to support School Choice in South Carolina. This year, in the General Assembly, there’s a bill that would provide tax credits to folks to send their children to private schools of their choice. In other words, if a child isn’t learning in his or her current school environment, or is being taught values and subjects parents find objectionable, they will not have to bear the cost of paying for private education, while still paying thousands in state taxes to be spent by a spendthrift educational establishment. While this is a common sense reform, that does not require any state funding or tax revenues, the public education lobby is on an all-out, no-holds-barred media campaign to smear the merits of school choice.
For example, when Arizona implemented a similar program in 2010, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the state. The ACLU’s bogus charge was that state funds were being used to pay for private school education at schools that were faith or values based. This, they ridiculously argued, was an endorsement of religion and of certain private schools by the state. The problem with their primary complaint was that it was a complete lie. No state funds were used to pay for these educations. None. Under the plan proposed here in South Carolina, like the one in Arizona, folks who make donations to private schools, or parents who pay to send their children to those schools, may take up to a $500 state tax credit. This is a credit, not a voucher or a hand-out. If taxes aren’t collected by the state, then the money doesn’t belong to the state, it belongs to the people who earned it.
That’s logic that the left simply cannot comprehend. Folks with this mindset hold to an 18th-century monarchial view wherein the state is the owner of everything, and the people are “allowed” the right to keep the money the government grants. Our forefathers fought against King George III and the power-grabbing British Parliament for such shenanigans, but there are those in our country who’d return to such statist rule.
In the case of the ACLU v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a refreshing breath of sanity, voted 5-4 in favor of the state’s educational freedom stand. The Court rightly argued that tax credits are not the same as state spending, for the money was never collected by the state and, instead, belongs to the people. Despite this ruling, there are those in our state who want to continue this false claim that our plan is unconstitutional. Don’t buy into it.
The fits and frenzy over at the SCEA and in the educational establishment in our state is simple to understand; they’re terrified that parents and the people are onto their self-enriching scheme that abuses taxpayers and uses our children as pawns. This year, I ask each of you to contact your state representatives and senators, and tell them the time has come for freedom in education. Abraham Lincoln once stated that “the philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” It’s time to end the SCEA’s and NEA’s attempts at creating a cottage industry, wherein they get well-meaning but gullible voters to vote for their next pay raise.