Traveling with SAFE Grants: How far could you go?

August 12, 2020

Oran P. Smith, Ph.D

Senior Fellow

The reaction to Governor McMaster’s allocation of $32 million for SAFE Grants for low and moderate-income children to attend the private school of their choice has been met with shrieks from the public education lobby.

As they tell it, the sky is falling, this is “a war on public schools,” civilization as we know it is ending, etc., etc., etc.   According to them, $32 million in one-time, need-based grants to support the education of private school kids who have been impacted by COVID will do irreparable harm to public education.

What? This is where a little context goes a long way!

Click to enlarge. 

Think of it this way:

If we set out from the South Carolina Statehouse spending $2 million dollars for every mile we drove, we could make it to Blythewood on SAFE Grant assistance for students in private schools.

What if we filled our car up with all COVID-related emergency spending allocated for South Carolina public schools and used the same $2 million per mile benchmark? We wouldn’t run out of “gas” until we reached the state capitol building of North Carolina, in Raleigh.

How far could we go if we spent $2 million dollars per mile for all the funding South Carolina public schools receive annually from federal, state, and local sources?

Los Angeles, California…and back. That’s right. $10 billion dollars of total public school education spending would fuel us for a coast-to-coast round trip.

So, one-time SAFE Grant funds for needy private school kids hurt by COVID gets you from one end of Richland County to another.

Annual public school funding gets you to Beverly Hills and back.

Perspective is everything…all kids need help, and the sky isn’t falling.