This op-ed appeared in The State newspaper on January 22, 2018.
Our nation will spend $623.5 billion on K-12 education this academic year — an average $12,300 per pupil. That per-pupil spending has increased by more than 35 percent over the past 25 years, even after taking inflation into account.
Despite all the spending, S.C. test scores on standardized achievement tests remain below the national average in fourth and eighth grade math and reading.
And our national results rank below most of our global economic competitors. The most recent international assessment of 35 developed countries ranked the United States 19th in science, 20th in reading and 31st out of 35 in mathematics.
With spending so high and results so low, we should listen to the parents of struggling children asking — begging — for a greater voice in their schools and more options to educate them. School choice advocates firmly believe that parents want nothing but the best for their sons and daughters.
As a mother of six precious children myself, I want to do all I can to make sure they have the best in life, starting with a high-quality education.
Because no two children are alike, parents need more high-quality educational options.
School choice includes all kinds of options: open enrollment, allowing students to attend public schools outside their neighborhoods; charter schools, which are publicly funded and have greater flexibility than traditional public schools; magnet schools, which specialize in a particular field; online and distance learning options; scholarships, education savings accounts and tax deductions to fund education at private schools; and home education.
Our Legislature has passed a charter school law, and recently enacted two scholarship programs for special-needs children. But we shouldn’t rest until every parent and child can access the high-quality education options of their choosing, regardless of their income or ZIP code.
On Wednesday, My South Carolina Education will rally at the State House as part of National School Choice Week. Our rally, like the more than 32,000 National School Choice Week events across the country, will showcase children who have benefited from school choice. As we celebrate their accomplishments, we will work to extend school choice to every parent and every child — in South Carolina and across the country. Our children deserve the best opportunities we can provide to them, so let’s join together and make our voices heard.
The State publishes a cross section of the letters we receive from South Carolinians in order to provide a forum for our community and also to allow our community to get a good look at itself, for good or bad. The letters represent the views of the letter writers, not necessarily of The State.