COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Senate is considering an education saving account bill, so we wanted to tell you what it could means for you and your child's education.
Senate bill 556 is currently in an education subcommittee.
Lead sponsor and Edgefield Republican Senator Shane Massey said the bill would establish education savings accounts for special needs students and, potentially, students in poor performing districts.
“But it is providing significant benefit to the students who have special needs and just-- the public school where they're zoned for is just not able to provide the services to them. Or, if you have children in some of these other states who are in high poverty areas, it's helped get them a better opportunity,” Massey said.
On Thursday morning, the subcommittee heard testimony from people in other states, mainly Florida and Arizona, where similar legislation is already implemented.
The South Carolina bill would allow parents to use the state's taxpayer education money, which would normally pay for their student's public education, to pay for alternative private schools, tutors, and some other education materials.
Massey said he wants it to be a limited proposal.
“It wouldn't be open to everybody, it wouldn't be open to the wealthy people, it wouldn't be open to the great performing school districts. It's going to be a very limited scope of people,” Massey said after the meeting.
But others in education, like Palmetto State Teacher's Association Executive Director Kathy Maness, are concerned it opens the door to public money in private education.
“Now if a family would like to do that with their children, send them there, I'm all for it. But, I just don't feel like right now in South Carolina, when public education is not fully funded, and has not been since 2008, that we should be looking at public money to go to private schools,” Maness said this week.
Earlier this week, a group of Democratic senators said they would fight voucher, school choice, and education savings account bills, ‘to the end.’
The teacher advocacy group, SCforED, has also said repeatedly they are against this type of legislation and have tweeted specifically about S.556.
The bill will likely be back in front of the subcommittee next week.