Our country stands for Justice and Equal Opportunity. We pride ourselves in having a strong public education system to help us attain those ideals of American society. So why does it seem that Republicans do whatever they can to not support public education? The state Republicans led by Chris Murphy (House District 98), are again trying to get tax breaks for the rich who send their children to private schools. The latest bill is for tax credits if you send you child to private schools – this amounts to another income tax reduction for the rich, and a reduction in revenue for our state budget. They try to pass it off as a way for middle and lower income families to send their children to private schools, but it would still leave those families in need of thousands of dollars to send their children to private schools – and that is not going to happen. Thus in reality only the rich now sending their children will get another income tax reduction courtesy of the Republicans.
Murphy said “Many see their children as "trapped" in public schools that aren't serving those children's specific instructional needs.” (Summerville Journal Scene, April 10, 2012). If Republican legislators are so concerned about districts that don’t perform, they might spend some time to study how to correct problems on the state level. Little time or research is spent considering what can be done to improve our state’s reputation; the costs would be considerable and the whole state would have to be committed to sacrificing, at least for a few years. Instead, Republicans make offers like this one might be good for a very minimal number of children, but the schools as a whole do not get better, and in fact many students get fewer resources.
There are many other issues: there are no controls or standards for private schools like are required of our public schools. Tax money (and a tax credit, voucher, or tax deduction is public money) would be spent on an unknown outcome. Any person with fraud in his heart could start an “academy”, rake in the vouchers, and ignore children. Strange and bizarre religious schools could flourish with no controls. Mr. Murphy mentions low-income families, but nowhere did I see that the deductions or credits are limited to income. Corporations could move their tax money into the voucher scholarship bank, lowering the state’s operating resources.
What is really happening is that the Republicans are just trying to appease the far right money machine and pass the HOWARD RICH litmus test. There have been several articles in The State newspaper that show the influence of Howard Rich and associates in financing campaigns. The contributions are tied to this checklist. (http://www.thestate.com/2012/04/08/2225730/ny-dollars-flow-into-sc-school.html).
We need to fund our schools appropriately, reduce the number of children per classroom, and support our fine public school teachers. Strong support for our Public Schools are the center piece of every Democratic Candidate running in Dorchester County. I suggest if you really want better public schools, we need more Democrats representing us in Columbia!