Nobody will replace Senate President Pro Tempore Emeritus John W. Drummond. Someone will win his District 10 seat, but the Ninety-Six native will never be replaced. He’s the last of the old breed, the wise warrior statesmen, who guided South Carolina out of the Jim Crow South into the twenty-first century. The November election will be between County Council member Dee Compton and popular Greenwood Mayor Floyd Nicholson.
But, as SC Barbecue and Politics points out, this is not just a race to fill Senator Drummond’s outsized shoes. It’s a race between local interests and out of state money, belonging to friends and associates of a New York rich guy who wants to take your tax money and give it to unaccredited, unaccountable private organizations to educate your children.
Why does Howard Rich care so much about South Carolina’s admittedly disastrous education system? Because he and his rich buddies want to prove that private schools will do a better job than public ones. Hiding under the mantra of “school choice,” Rich and company want to run tax-funded experiments using children as subjects. Instead of working on things that matter, like class size, high quality early intervention programs, and equitable funding–or even, dare I say it–comprehensive tax reform, the Club For Growth and its allies want to shift public dollars for education to schools that don’t have to compete on a level playing field.
I’m not against school choice. I’m not against using private sector solutions or market reforms to address public issues. What I am against however, is lack of accountability. And the voucher proponents are not willing to level the playing field. They don’t want to require that private companies, non-profits and religious schools meet the same standards as public schools. They just want to spend money, our money, on a goofy, unproven pipe dream that is guranteed to waste even more money than our present system, without even the benefit of government oversight, no matter how wanting.
The District 10 race is between two likable candidates, for whom I have great deal of personal affection. But Howard Rich’s riches have made this race about a transfer of our tax dollars out of the public sector and into schools that have less accountability, not more.