It is not too late to act, and a spokesman for the Diocese of Charleston encouraged supporters to call their senators and urge them to vote in favor of the bill.
“Time is relatively short,” said Stephen Gajdosik, diocesan media relations officer. Gajdosik, serving as legislative affairs liaison for the diocese, appeared before the state Senate recently to speak in favor of the bill. The Catholic Church has long supported school choice because it is viewed as a parental rights issue.
“The primary nature of the parents’ role is not merely chronological — that they are first, until the state or church takes over for them,” Gajdosik said in his testimony.
“Parents are the chief or principal educators, only sometimes looking to the state or church to assist them in their responsibility. It is the parents’ responsibility and, therefore, the parents’ choice in what manner their child is to be educated,” he said.
The S.C. Education Opportunity Act (S.520) would provide tuition credit to parents across the state and give children stuck in at-risk schools the opportunity to go somewhere better, according to Sen. Robert Ford, the lead sponsor of the bill.
The credit for tuition of a child with special needs will average $4,867, or 100 percent of the state’s average student spending. Children zoned to attend failing public schools will receive 75 percent, or $3,650, and all other students will be eligible for a credit of 50 percent of state spending, averaging $2,433. No credits will be given greater than the actual spending on tuition. Parents who home school their children can claim up to $1,000 per child in credits based on their instruction related expenses.
If the bill is passed by the education committee, it will then appear before the full Senate for a vote, Gajdosik said.
South Carolinians for Responsible Government also supports school choice. Call them at (803) 212-1051 for information on reaching your senator. Visit www.scstatehouse.gov for a complete list of legislators and their contact information.