Tuesday, May 31

Public education still matters

It is hip, using the word of the day, to "dis" public education if one considers himself a Republican.  The South Carolina GOP now has a purity test on the subject.  If one is not for tuition tax credits for private schools, then one is not a real Republican.  So be it.  This comes for the party that has as it champion a Governor who would rather cater to Wal Mart than work to give people jobs in South Carolina.  Governor Haley made clear she would not support jobs in SC through Amazon but she would let the bill to locate them here go unsigned. Haley is no Carroll Campbell.    Fair enough.  No wonder she stands where she does on public education.   

Make no mistake, public education needs real reform.  Politicians need to roll up their sleeves and get to work to make the public schools better.  After all, the better educated our workforce is the more high paying jobs we can bring in and that adds to the tax base and so forth. Further, educating the least among us gives them a chance at the American economy and keeps them off welfare and out of prisons, things we taxpayers pay for.  But, try telling that to Governor Haley and her minions.  

They have a narrow focus.  They want to give tax breaks to the the well to do and to those who try to be well to do to send their kids to private schools.  It is appealing for those folks. Who does not want a tax break on their kids tuition that enables one to have the nice car or the big boat to show off?  If Haley and her minions sold that as their purpose, fair enough.  But, they do not.  They tell us the tuition tax credits for private schools gives poor kids a chance.  It is a flat lie. 

Think on it.  Suppose some single mom in Allendale county has two kids.  She wants the best for her kids, as we all do.  She gets on a bus and rides to Hilton Head Island to clean hotel rooms.  She makes, at the best, thirty grand a year.  Her kids go to Allendale public schools.  She learns of a private school nearby, which, frankly there is not one that would take her kids.  Say the tuition for each kid in five grand, and that is being conservative and low in the estimate.  So, this single mom, who makes only about thirty thousand, is told she can give her kids a chance at a better education if she pays out ten thousand, a third of what she brings in at best, and some point in the future she will get it back.  

Frankly,no matter her intentions, that single mom can not do it.  She has to pay for rent, utilities and health care.  The landlord and the power company are not going to wait on her getting a tax credit from the state.  So, even in Haley's ultimate world, those kids remain in the public schools.  

And, what do they face in those public schools?  If we rob tax money from the people to subsidize the well to do to get the big boat and big car, the public schools suffer.  The kids in Allendale end up with the least education the state can offer.  

I realize that some might say, "who cares?" about such.  Fair enough.  But, in the end we as a society will spend money through welfare programs, and if not that policing and prisons to deal with the children who are not well educated. Frankly put, the tax break that allowed you to buy the big boat or the Volvo will in the end cost you more in tax money to pay to protect you from the children you chose not to pay to educate.  

That is reality.  That is life.  It might hurt someone's conservative agenda and model, but in the real world, life is what it is.  If we really want to fix this state and set it on the right course, then getting public education right is the way.  Kowtowing to those outside the system will no do it.  Their kids have to live in the real world with the rest of us.  What will those kids think when they find out you took a special tax break that kept the guy who held them up from getting a good education?

I know that seems dramatic.  But it is true.  Educating young folks is the silver bullet for most of our ills.  There is a lot wrong with how public education does that.  But, public education needs to be reformed, not done away with.   Without good public education, we have a weak minded people.  For the short term, the rich and ne er to wells might enjoy it.  But, in the long run, they will suffer as they have to pay to protect themselves from a public that no longer produces.  

Indeed,when you look at the historical writings of our nation, good public education was at the center of good order and a business friendly America.  Public education is an American value.  But it does lack.  For so many who claim to champion our constitution have never read it and can not cite it to save their lives.  Most of them are a product of public schools.  But before we let a big government program subsidize private schools, lets roll up our sleeves and do the hard work of reforming the public schools, whose graduates make up our state and nation. 
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