January 13, 2022 – This week, the SC Senate Education Subcommittee met to start the discussion of S.935, the bill in support of Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs). Despite the South Carolina Supreme Court’s ruling that no money from public funds should be used for the benefit of religious or private educational institutions, our state’s leadership is determined to put forth the idea that ESAs allow for “parental choice”.
PEP’s 5 main concerns are:
- the constitutionality of ESAs – similar laws in other states have been unsuccessful, preventing the transfer of state funds for public schools to private and religious educational institutions.
- discrimination against students based on religion, socioeconomic status, and identity – the bill notes that providers “shall not be required to alter their creeds, practices, admissions policy, or curriculum” to receive funds. This acknowledgement that private schools set their own admissions policies belies the state goal of the program to provide parents with more choice; ultimately it is the private school that has the choice whether or not a student attends, not the parent.
- siphoning of money away from public schools – the legislation is full of administrative expenses including marketing, administrative and accounting costs, along with consultants to help parents navigate the system.
- lack of transparency and accountability to tax payers – education providers eligible for ESA payments are not required to administer the same assessments administered in public schools, which does not allow for a true comparison of academic outcomes.
- no real benefit to students – studies on the academic achievement after implementation of state voucher and tax credit programs found that students using vouchers to attend private schools “performed noticeably worse on state assessments than their [public school] control group counterparts.”1
Take action against S.935 here.
CONTACT: Catherine Schumacher, PEP President & CEO | firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Mills, J. & Wolf, P. (2019). The Effects of the Louisiana Scholarship Program on Student Achievement After Four Years. Retrieved at https://ssrn.com/abstract=3376230.