Public school choice can be a useful reform if officials implement charter schools and other special programs with total dedication to giving all families excellent options. Kudos to Jim Rex, South Carolina’s education superintendent, for proposing open enrollment within the public sector.
Unfortunately, good intentions often fail to yield actual equal opportunity to government services. Enter state Sen. Larry Grooms with a good idea: When it turns out that needy families can’t gain access to better-performing public schools because of crowding or other stated reasons (or excuses), award $2,500 per-pupil public scholarships (vouchers) to help deprived children go to qualifying private schools.
True, Grooms’ measure did not pass. But here is a prediction: It will be back sooner or later in South Carolina–and also in other lawmaking bodies around the nation seeking to keep the promise of improved education for all. Open enrollment needs a backup plan in case the door is slammed shut.
Robert Holland ([email protected]) is a senior fellow for education policy with The Heartland Institute.