Sunday, March 20, 2005
bill could lead to school resegregation
SC Statehouse Report
20, 2005 - - If people think the ill-named "Put Parents
In Charge" legislation backed by GOP Gov. Mark Sanford
is no big deal, they're wrong.
It is a big deal. Siphoning public money for private education
could lead to school resegregation, says the Rev. Joseph A.
Darby, the much-respected African American minister at Morris
Brown A.M.E. Church in Charleston. Many recall Darby, who
is first vice president of the S.C. NAACP, as the man who
gave invocations at the inauguration of Sanford and his predecessor,
Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges.
Darby sees Sanford's voucher proposal as one of the worst
education ideas to come along in a long time.
For years, Darby says, South Carolina hasn't adequately funded
public education, particularly in the rural areas. A lawsuit
brought by poorer school districts seeking fairer education
funding featured 16 months of testimony that wrapped up late
last year. A decision is expected this summer.
Rev. Joseph A. Darby
"I refuse to write off schools that have never been
given the chance to compete on a level playing field, and
find it hypocritical that those that refused to equitably
fund our schools decide to try 'something new' and blithely
calling it 'Putting Parents in Charge' to disguise a legislative
wolf in sheep's clothing," Darby wrote this week in an
e-mail to a voucher-backed group seeking support from black
Darby said if money is drained now from public schools to
provide "tax credits" to parents who send their
kids to private schools, students in many public schools will
suffer consequences of already underfunded schools.
"It's a continuation of that same kind of paternalistic
thinking that South Carolina has always had, and that's what's
been holding us back," he said.
In the e-mail, he claimed the ballyhooed voucher effort is
little more than a frightening attempt to modernize two strategies
used in the 1960s to block school desegregation effort.
WORLD: Baseball on Capitol Hill
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"One of those was called 'freedom of choice,' which
allowed parents to send their children to any public school
that they pleased to slow down desegregation. The other, which
was ultimately outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court, allowed
parents to have tax credits and scholarships to send their
children to all-white private schools created with the expressed
purpose of maintaining segregation.
"Those private schools, many of which now chase the
dollars that the present legislation would offer, served to
set public education back by decades in South Carolina, and
our Governor wants to abandon those public schools instead
of fixing them."
In an interview, Darby added, "It outrages me that 50
years after Brown v. Board of Education, the same strategies
used to fight Brown v. Board are being brought up by our elected
Tom Truitt, executive director of the Pee Dee Education Center
in Florence, said Darby is onto a strong argument.
"The obligation of the state is to provide an education
for all of the children and it makes no sense if we're going
to live in an integrated society to provide education in a
He added the idea that tax credits (vouchers) for private
school education would help public schools is a notion "that
does not pass the common sense test."
Maybe the ills of vouchers are getting through to people
and politicians. In the past couple of weeks, Rep. Ronnie
Townsend, the Anderson Republican who chairs the House Education
and Public Works Committee, told constituents the Sanford
plan was merely a tax cut to help the wealthy that masqueraded
as an education bill, according to the SC Education Association.
Also, Rep. Jim McGee, R-Florence, disingenuously tried to
distance himself from the voucher idea in a recent letter
to a Florence newspaper, even though he's still a co-sponsor
of two versions of the voucher bill.
Finally, senior Senate sources claim the measure will get
nowhere this year.
Meanwhile, proponents of the measure seem to be using more
desperate tactics - - from writing fictitious letters to the
editor and threatening letters to school boards to working
stealthily to create support for the proposal among black
preachers and spending thousands of dollars on television
If public school advocates don't remain vigilant and thwart
sneaky, hypocritical tactics, they may find voucher proponents
will lose the battle this year, but eventually win the war.
pitches to Capitol Hill
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
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3/18: Writer outlines the "Sanford
To the editor:
The Sanford Folly - Our Children Are Suffering While He Spins
In His Fantasy
No matter how you approach the proposition, it is wrong!
We have a duty and a responsibility as a free and democratic
people to educate our citizens.
This year I will complete over 31 years of continous military
service, including deployments in the Far East, Europe and
the Middle East during OIF. Freedom is not something I take
lightly, and I mean freedom for all of God's people.
I grew up in the segregated South, I remember those dark
times, and I regret we were so ignorant, so uncaring and selfish,
and still those sins haunt us today, and yes we still march
down that same darn road -- just look at that flag on the
Statehouse grounds. It is a reminder of that past, which is
still our present and the questions remains - "Will It
Be Our Future!" We do have a choice, let's do something
about it NOW! We owe it to our children, all children regardless
of race, creed or national origin!!!
Enough is enough!
-- Sandy Gibson, Lexington, S.C.
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
The State newspaper. Congrats to The State
for spending the time and money to look behind campaign donations
and for putting a tool online to help people know who gives
to their lawmakers.
Darby. Hats off to the Rev. Joe Darby for speaking
up about how the school voucher bill may lead to school resegregation.
Rep. James Smith. Seems if you're going to put up
8,000 amendments to stall tort reform, it doesn't look good
to cave within a day.
State budget. Everybody seems ecstatic that the $5.9
billion state budget swiftly and unanimously passed in the
House. But it seems like there ought to be more debate about
spending that will affect so many.
SCRG. South Carolinians for Responsible Government,
the pro-voucher group, continues to spiral down with deceptive
and misleading political tactics in their at-all-costs strategy
to win a victory on school tax credits for private education.
Tort reform. A sweeping tort reform package has passed
the House and Senate and is on the way to the governor. While
some of the bill's provisions are good, such as tightening
venue rules and stemming frivolous lawsuits, we still worry
it will take away too many freedoms from hard-working South
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