Note: Following is an encapsulation of remarks made by legislators during today's debate. While this note does reflect remarks made by these lawmakers, it is not a full and verbatim transcript of the remarks.
Rep. Mike Anthony: Where is the superintendent who represents 700,000 children in this state?
I said as a freshman, One of these days, you're going to awaken the sleeping giant of this state -- the teachers of this state. When the message gets to them and they understand it -- you sit back and laugh because teachers don't vote -- when that happens, you won't see this kind of stuff.
I want to apologize to my delegation in Spartanburg who got those nasty report cards over this.
Every parent has one opportunity to educate your child. Does that mean you have to be for choice? No, but it means every time I saw parents engaged in their child's education, they got it. Parents have to be engaged.
I don't like that "minimally-adequate" requirement we got back from the courts.
The people who run the schools now are adjudicators -- the judges, litigators -- the lawyers -- and legislators.
This is going to weaken the General Fund budget, because this process has been fought for by mean-spirited people. To my colleagues in Spartanburg, I can't imagine you voting for this, the way they treated you.
Wait 'til next year. What are they going to bring back next year?
How can we throw away $37 million to appease 65,000 when we can't fund the 700,000 who have chosen public schools? This is just tossing water in their faces.
Remember what I said: One of these days, we're going to awaken the sleeping giant.
Rep. Rita Allison: I have a few things to share before you go home.
I stand here... conflicted. I am, over how we got here.
I've been in the General Assembly for a number of years, and through the Governor's office, and throughout that time I know parents who wanted parental choice, parents who cared and who wanted parental choice.
Then there was the other side, parents who were scared there wouldn't be enough money to fund public education.
This bill is not a silver bullet to determine whether public education is funded.
I think so much of Mr. Anthony. In his heart, he puts the child in the center of everything. That's what we have to do. We have public schools I would put up against any in the nation. But we also have weak links. We are as strong as those weak links, public and private. They have to be brought up.
We have to have the will to do what we haven't had the will to do. We took up tax reform without any education funding in it. We have to stop and think about what we're doing. We have to be able to do for the teachers the things they need to teach every day, and parents have to be involved.
This is not the silver bullet. We'll have to do our job to support public education in our state and keep it going.
I want to thank you for the civility in this body today. There hasn't been that civility on the journey to this. We should not be pitting education against education in this state; it should be the best thing to happen to any child in this state, private or public.
I hope we've learned a lesson through this journey we've taken on choice. It's not about drawing a line in the sand and becoming an obstructionist and threatening people because they have a feel about something. It's about allowing people to come together at a table.
Rep. Boyd Brown: Obviously I'm against the bill. I went to private school in Fairfield County; those are not the best public schools in the state, but we're trying to make them better.
By taking children out of those schools and putting them in a segregated private school is not the answer. It weakens our public education system.
It's a vehicle, so they can come back next year and chip away some more, the guys who work for Howard Rich. They're going to find a way to keep getting paid by Howard Rich.
I have two main problems. One is the way that group conducts business. We've an honorable county delegation targeted, a member from the Low Country blasted on a blog because she stood up for what her constituents want.
What you're saying with this bill is that this IS the way to get things done. When it comes to school choice, that's what it took to get this passed. All it took was legally being on the take from Howard Rich.
Arthur Ravenel said, If you can't take their money and vote against them, you have no business being in politics in the first place.
Instead of voting on the interests of Howard Rich, you need to vote in the interests of your constituents.
They picked off people like Keith Kelly, an honorable man, and that's they way they got things done.
Second is what it actually does to public education. On most Friday nights, like many of you, I'm at a football game. These public schools have always been, and despite Howard Rich, the backbone of our communities. We don't gather in church; it's still pretty segregated. It's now the football stands, the basketball arena.
We're incentivizing parents to take their children out of public schools, and keep them home, and fracture our communities more than they're fractured now. In encourage all of you to vote against it.