Establishment Opposing Innovation...Earth Still Orbits Sun.
Lawmakers on a special senate committee considered, and voted out, a modest school choice bill in early May. The legislation, which was passed by the full House earlier this year, will now be taken up by the full Senate Finance Committee.
The five SC Senators seated on the special committee heard testimony from parents and educators who support increased parental choice in K-12 education. They also heard about the actual experiences of similar -and widely popular- choice programs operating in other states.
Then those Senators heard from taxpayer-funded and taxpayer-subsided special interests, who came to lobby against the proposal. Specifically, highly paid lobbyists from the school boards (SCSBA) and the school administrators associations (SCASA) belittled the ability of families to make good choices among different types of schools.
During the meeting, Senator Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley) challenged one of these self-described "education advocates" whose salary is paid through the siphoning-off of money intended for public school classrooms. Grooms, a long time advocate of parental choice, asked the lobbyist if there had ever been any type of change or reform that the organization had supported, and noted that year after year he and others who came before the lawmakers decried any and all attempts to empower parents of school-aged children.
That lobbyist said that his organization, SCSBA, had consistently supported all types of choices, except those which extended to non-public schools. He cited public charters as a type of parental choice SCSBA supported.
But he was wrong.
SCSBA formally adopted a position opposition to charters in 1996, the year South Carolina's very first (and quite limited) charter law was passed. This SCSBA legislation position was expanded in 2000 and 2001 as State Lawmakers moved to allow a statewide charter district to serve as a second (or dual) authorizer of charter schools. This move allowed parents to create a charter school without appealing to the local traditional school district - the very entity that often spurred their desire for educational alternatives!
You can see the screenshot from the SCSBA website clearly showing their opposition to charters above.
Groups like SCSCBA, SCASA and SCEA are rabidly opposed to school choice because it threatens their influence and financial interests, not because they are concerned about how policy affects students. If they were student-focused, they would have looked to states like Florida, seen the huge achievement gains for public schools, and sought to implement the same reforms here.