GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) – Patrick Kelly is a schoolteacher and advocate for public education.
“It seems pretty black-and-white in our state’s constitution that the state cannot provide public funds for direct aid to private or religious schools,“ he commented after watching the proceedings in Orangeburg today.
Today, the Governor’s representatives argued in court that the money from SAFE grants would not go directly to schools, but rather to parents, like Michelle Gantt.
“It’s been something that I always, as long as I could afford it, whether that means working one or three jobs, I’ve always done it,“ Gantt said when asked why she decided to put her kids in private school.
Gantt is a single mom with three boys at Hampton Park Christian, and says the money from the grants the governor wants to issue to parents of private schools would help her and her choice to send her boys there immensely.
“It would be nice just to not have to work 24/7,” she said. “I mean I’ll do it because I love my kids and I’ll do what I have to do, but it would be nice to focus on them, and not wonder where the money is coming from all the time.“
But Kelly says giving 5% of all South Carolina students more than 2/3 of CARES act money is not just disproportional—it’s wrong.
“By the governors own admission, that $32 million will only fund 5000 scholarships,” Kelly said when referring to the number of grants that could be issued to private school children. “There are more than 800,000 public school students in South Carolina.”
He also adds South Carolina’s public schools are already struggling amidst a pandemic to afford things like sanitizer, masks, and glass shields.
“Our government should provide that, and the governors allocation of funds towards private scholarships is diminishing our ability to do something as basic as that,“ he said.
Gantt says the struggle is universal, and that she pays just as much out of her own pocket to give her kids what they need.
“Just because you go to private school, or religious school, does it mean you have enormous amounts of money,“ she said. “It just means everybody sacrifices on a different way.”
For his part, the governor says that he will do everything he can to make sure the ruling goes his way, even if it doesn’t at first.