(The Center Square) — South Carolina received an overall D score and ranked 26th nationwide for its education freedom.
The American Legislative Exchange Council 2023 Index of State Education Freedom “focuses exclusively on the policies each state has in place to ensure their students can access the best educational environment for them.”
The report graded the Palmetto State on its charter schools (B), financing programs (C), homeschooling (D), open enrollment (D) and virtual schooling (D).
“South Carolina is making encouraging strides towards education freedom for every student,” Nathaniel Cunneen, a communications strategist at the American Federation for Children, told The Center Square via email. “The legislature passed Education Savings Account legislation last session, which will expand private school choice options to thousands of families.
“In other states, private school choice competition has led to stronger open enrollment and charter school programs, as public-school districts see increased urgency to provide families more tailored options,” Cunneen added. “South Carolina is right to prioritize private school choice and charter schools, because those opportunities lead to a healthier system across the board.”
Under S.39, the Educational Scholarship Trust Fund, which South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, signed in May, eligible students — state residents with “a statement of Medicaid eligibility” — can receive up to $6,000 in scholarships. They can use the money to cover instructional materials, tutoring, computer hardware, assessments, transportation, tuition and fees.
In passing the measure, South Carolina lawmakers followed a national trend of allowing more parents to decide where to send their kids to school.
A South Carolina Department of Education spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on the ALEC report.