Sunday, July 13, 2008

Will we run from the hard work on education?

After reviewing Howard Rich’s interview with GOP Chairman Katon Dawson posted on SC Hotline, I like, so many, found his platitudes hard to argue against. The same can be said of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Who wants to stand against parents choosing what is best for their children? Who stands against hope?

However, like Obama’s platitudes, Rich’s are without great thought. Both men seem to forget the federal principle of federalism and seem all to eager to use whatever is at their disposal to make folks buy into their vision of America and what they think government should do. Neither man is for limited government, only for government that furthers their objectives.

I know that gives some folks pause. But, in all frankness, what works in Wisconsin or New York might not work in South Carolina. That is why our founding fathers saw fit to value the rights of states and their citizens to determine their own affairs on issues like public education.

On the issue of public education, let’s take a look at what South Carolina could gain or lose from the Howard Rich way. While Mr. Rich and his associates sound so good in their proposals to give parents control, the plan proposed in South Carolina does not do that. What we have proposed is a tax credit of about $3000.

Such a tax credit ignores two very important facts. First, in the areas were our public school performance lacks the most, there are no viable private school alternatives. Second, where there are legitimate private school alternatives, the tuition is far greater than the tax credit offered. There is simply no way the current plan can give the struggling student a way out. The idea that a poor student from Ware Shoals or Allendale who wants to achieve more can get into private school with the tax credit is just fanciful. All tax credits will do is help upper middle class families in the suburbs with the Volvo payment.

That help will not be for long. For those parents and children who might benefit from the tax credit will still find they will be paying for the products of failed public education and the culture of failure that persists. Those costs will be found in the time tested costs of ignorance: social programs, law enforcement and jails.

It is a stark and painful truth to face. But, alas it there staring us in the face. If we conservatives really want our state to move forward, we should not rely upon gimmicks, but instead have the political fortitude to challenge the culture of failure and call for public education reform. We should put the resources into that reform to make a real difference for the children who, frankly, have no other alternative but the public schools to make their lives better.

I realize there are no big campaign dollars to be gained for politicians who make such a stand. The Howard Rich crowd wants tax credits. The education establishment wants the status quo. However, common sense tells us they are both wrong. The status quo is not getting the job done. Tax credits for private schools will not fix that problem. The only thing that will is politicians having the courage to stand up and reform public education and make public education again into the force it once was. For, with public education the United States went from a second rate power to the power we are today. Further, no nation-state in the world enjoys a high standard of living without quality public education.

The state of South Carolina, and the United States as a whole, faces a great challenge. Will we be willing to do the hard things or pander to those who write campaign checks? Thirty some odd years ago, a conservative Democratic President who cut taxes stood up and challenged the United States to put a man on the moon. Then President John F. Kennedy said “we do not seek this because it is easy, but because it is hard.”

Today, we face similar hard challenges. Will we become a people who forego the values of public education in favor of assisting a few help their children do better? Will we become a people who allow the status quo keep giving us inefficiency and a marked lack of success? Will we become a people led by the well financed extreme sides of a debate that offers no real solutions and leaves us with paying the bill for the products of failed education in our social programs and prisons?

Or, will we find the will to do the hard thing, and that hard thing is reforming public education. Let’s spend our time and energy working to cut administrative costs and fight for a common sense, business friendly approach to curriculum. Parents have more control in public schools now than the politicians will admit. They can go to school board meetings and meet with teachers. Parents can organize campaigns to elect school board members. Common sense solutions are not that far away. All it takes is a little will and gumption by parents and politicians. I realize it is hard work, but are we so removed from our cultural heyday of the space program that we are afraid to actually work to do the hard things needed to make our society better?


  1. Sanford's Main ManJuly 13, 2008

    You got to pick one side or the other bitch. Don't throw this thinking man crap at us. Politics ain't about thinking. It is about picking a side and doing what you can to make sure that side wins. Don't you get that you pathetic stool of human crap?

  2. Lowcountry BoilJuly 13, 2008

    Sanfords man is right. You are asking people to think about things. That is never good in politics. People don't want to think, they just want to blame someone for the reason they ain't where they want to be. Your common sense approach just pisses me off. I hate common sense.

  3. AnonymousJuly 13, 2008

    JFK would be proud, but BHO says kiss his ass.

  4. Rich made a lot of sense. The Public educrat establishment says school choice would "destroy Public education." He points out that it actually wouldn't, it would just destroy the educrat's "control of public education." The per child money (at least some of it) would return to the parent/taxpayer. Isn't this what Republicans are supposed to be for????? How can education be destroyed if parents are making choices, doing research, and going out of their way to make sure that their children are in a good school? Would education not be enhanced if more parents did this? Just making the public school establishment justify their results and their budgets (where 56 cents on the dollar miss the classroom) would be an improvement!!!!

  5. AnonymousJuly 15, 2008

    I'm not his biggest fan, don't infer complete agreement, but Newt Gingrich gave a speech recently that is pertinent to this topic: is an archive of what is streamed by the rightalk network at

    One thing we need to understand if we are going to improve education in SC is that, with the government education system, we're not dealing with something good that has gone off track in recent years that simply needs to be "fixed". The founders of the National Education Association were clear and explicit about their agenda, their reason for wanting compulsory government schools in America. What we are seeing today is the fruit that this system was designed to produce: a generation that will not resist the subjugation of the U.S. to a global socialist state. If you want to fix the system rather than replace it with something better, you're talking about making a "heart change" ... a core, fundamental change from what it was originally designed to do ... like what "born again" Christians believe happens to a person's innermost being when they accept Christ's death as complete atonement for their sins, reconciling them to a holy God.

    James D. Beebe, Jr. (home school advocate)
    Seneca, SC