Saturday, May 02, 2009
Just say no to government ran private schools
The so called school choice bill passed a hurdle recently when it passed out of committee in the South Carolina Senate. That caused a chorus of rejoicing from the highly paid political operatives that advocate for the bill. Look for those highly paid political operatives and the Governor’s people to issue the classical political “full court press,” over the closing weeks of the legislative session. While it could be argued that the “school choice” bill should be about 10th on the list of legislative priorities to debate, political forces will make that bill near the top of the list. There is too much money and potential power at stake.
Make no mistake; this argument comes down to money and pure politics. While there are “true believers” out there, the major players in the debate are well paid political operatives and people with alternative agendas. Kids and parents are played to, not championed.
Take liberals like Robert Ford. Not only does Ford like the big money that now flows to his campaign coffers, but liberals like him can use the school choice legislation to open the door to government ran private schools. Historically when government money, directly or indirectly, goes to a private institution, it eventually comes with strings attached. It happened to private colleges when they accepted students with government tuition grants. Even a memo from the South Carolina Policy Council touting the Pennsylvania private school grant program noted that parents could only choose from schools that met government standards. Frankly, parents who choose private school and poor parents who want to help their children are being misled.
Think about that. Perhaps an example should be presented. Most South Carolina parents who choose private schools do so for social and politically incorrect reasons. Take for example the parent who wants his child to have Bible study and Christian principles ingrained in his child’s education. As such, that parent sends his child to a Christian school that currently only accepts Christians and teaches Christian principles. With the eventual strings that come with government money, that school would face government regulation to get students with government money. Suddenly, the parent who had the choice to sacrifice to make sure his child got a Christian based education could have no real choice. The private school close enough to choose could become quasi public, compromising its principles for the money. How does that foster real choice? Does it not hand left wing liberals who have long resented the private schools, especially in the eastern part of South Carolina, a way to bring government control of the private schools that they loathe?
Of course, there is always the false argument that poor parents can send their children to private schools with the legislation. Let’s take a look at the poor example. Suppose a single mom in Allendale works two jobs to make about $35,000. That salary is used to support the single mom and two children. The closest private school is miles away, and its tuition is around $10,000 per student. How is a tax credit of $3500 going to help that parent make a choice?
So why are so many hell bent on opening the door to government regulation of private schools and misleading poor people? The answer is money. The money spent on the issue of so called school choice in South Carolina is unprecedented. So far, that money has not had results. Add to that a Governor who has been well financed by proponents of vouchers or tax credits for private schools from within and without the state is not so quietly seeking the Presidency. The political operatives and the Governor have to prove that they are worth the money spent on them. The political operatives with their groups and blogs have to win one to get paid again elsewhere. The Governor has to win one to get the money for his Presidential campaign.
So, look for the old “full court press” in the following weeks. Senator Ryberg’s twelve legislators behind on state taxes will likely be offered a deal to vote for the school choice bill and never be named. Look for the $700 million in stimulus money the Governor is holding up to somehow come into play. Do not be shocked if Governor Sanford compromises on the taking that money if the school choice bill passes. Look for the paid bloggers to go full forced against members of the General Assembly and people who work for this and that organization. Forget the economy; forget the chaos in DSS and the Department of Commerce, the Governor and his cohorts will stake it all on the choice bill. They have to. The money backing them wants that.
Who knows who will win the great urinating contest that will happen between the well paid school choice advocates and the education establishment? The losers are clear. The losers are the parents and children who are in the South Carolina education system. If the school choice advocates win, a small number of parents will get a tax break for sending their kids to private schools, but at the potential cost of ceding control of those schools to state control. If the establishment wins, the status quo, which is failing so many, prevails.
There has to be a better way. There has to be some way that the average parent who cannot afford private school, even with tuition tax credits, can expect some sort of public school reform. There has to be a way that big money and political power does not dictate what happens to the average man and his children. Let’s be clear. The school choice advocates are not conservatives. They advocate a government role in private schools. That is big government. The education establishment just wants to hold on to their fiefdoms. VUI says no to government ran private schools, and instead calls for public education reform.