Monday, July 23, 2007

"Blacks rethink school choice" in South Carolina


Jackson, 50, is among a handful of black lawmakers who say they are concerned that S.C. public schools are failing to educate poor and minority children. Their concern could push the state's years-long debate over school choice and vouchers or tax credits for private school tuition over the finish line in 2008.

Standing in the well of the Senate during a debate in May, Jackson, long considered a public school defender, said he could see the day coming when he would support school choice.

It would be a historic alliance — traditionally pro-public school black Democrats, such as Jackson, joining with school choice advocates, largely white Republicans — to allow parents to use public money to send their children to better-performing public or private schools.

Jackson says he's not alone as he reconsiders school choice, ticking off the names of colleagues: Sens. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, and Kay Patterson, D-Richland, and Rep. Leon Howard, D-Richland, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus.