"I'm sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did. I'm not going to be lectured by a stuffed-suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium."Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) responding to attacks from White House press secretary Tony Snow regarding Kerry's "botched joke" about staying in school so that you don't get stuck in Iraq. Source: The Associated Press
Blacks for choice ·
It wasn't on the ballot, but school choice was one of the important factors in the Nov. 7 election. While Democrats are embracing the idea of more public school choice, Republican candidates like Gov. Mark Sanford and Karen Floyd are still talking about sending public money to private schools through tuition tax credits. Less than a week before the election, Sanford and Floyd were receiving some unlikely support in the black community.
At a forum on school choice, more than 20 Charlestonians heard from the leaders of two statewide black groups focused on increasing opportunities in black communities, including offering private school educations for minority students that don't fit well in the public school system.
"We've got to dispel this myth, this idea that private schools are for rich white folk," says Thomas Simuel, president and CEO of the South Carolina Center for Grassroots and Community Alternatives. Simuel has been touring the state, leading forums like the one in Charleston to inspire black communities to support school choices that include tuition tax credits for private schools.
Fellow coordinator Richard Davis, leader of Clergy for Education Options, says 63 percent of black girls and 67 percent of black boys are dropping out of school.
"Somebody should be angry about that," he says. "Because we're not giving our kids a good education, we're relegating them to a life of poverty and to a life of crime."
Local black leaders have worried that offering choice will send the best students to private schools. Recent suggestions that a charter high school will be established on the peninsula have scared some in the community into thinking that parents would abandon failing Burke High School.
"My response to that was 'good,'" Simuel says. "What that said to me was that if folks had a chance to choose, they wouldn't choose where they're stuck at."
Though more Democrats are supporting expanding choices in public schools, Simuel says it's only an inch in the right direction. He says that the black community has been taken for granted by some Democratic leaders.
"They say 'I don't have to earn their vote, I already have it.' The sad part is if we get so predictable that they become right. ... In terms of us standing up, I don't care if it's just five of us, enough is enough." —Greg Hambrick