John Adams wasn't thinking of school choice when he famously stated, "Facts are stubborn things," but his insight can bring clarity to a debate that remains clouded with misleading claims.
Consider the commonly touted myth that "school choice won't help low-income families." This statement is usually explained by pointing out that poor families don't have enough income to benefit from an income tax credit or tax deduction.
H. 4894 primarily supports low-income students and students with special educational needs, who are eligible for scholarships of up to $5,000 and $10,000 respectively. Considering that the median tuition for private schools in South Carolina is about $4,400, this bill represents significant help for struggling families. These scholarships are funded by contributions from individuals and businesses to nonprofit scholarship entities.
We don't have to speculate about whether school choice is a sound option for South Carolina. We can weigh facts from school choice programs in Florida, Arizona and Pennsylvania that serve tens of thousands of low-income students. In Florida, more than 37,000 children take advantage of tuition scholarships. I doubt those children would agree that school choice "doesn't help the poor."
Money or influence can allow educational choices through private school tuition, or moving to an area with high-performing public schools. Low-income families want the same opportunity to engage in the education of their children. School choice is a proven, cost-saving way of providing that.
Randy Page, president
for Responsible Government