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South Carolina leaders push school choice expansion

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(The Center Square) — South Carolina lawmakers announced a new proposal to expand school choice in the state.

H.5164 would expand the Education Savings Account program, which Republican Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law last year.

The proposal includes universal eligibility for South Carolina families by the 2026-27 school year. It also aims to streamline the experience for families and students.

“By empowering families with choice, we empower the students of our state with increased access to educational success,” Speaker of the House Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, said in an announcement. “This legislation is critical in continuing our innovative approach to unlocking the full potential of our education system and meeting the needs of many more children. I look forward to this proposal’s consideration by the House in the coming weeks.”

In a statement, Superintendent Ellen Weaver said the ESA model is “tried and tested successfully in states like Arizona and Florida, allows vital flexibility for families to customize their child’s education. House Education and Public Works Committee Chairlady Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort, said parents “want, and truly need, choices for their children’s education.”

Americans for Prosperity-South Carolina lauded the announcement.

“We are grateful for Speaker Smith’s continued leadership and commitment to expanding education opportunities for all students in the Palmetto State,” Candace Carroll, the group’s state director, said in a statement.

“We also thank Chairwoman Shannon Erickson for her important work on this legislation and look forward to working with her Committee as this bill moves forward,” Carroll added. “Making education savings accounts universally available is a vital step forward in advancing education freedom and ensuring all families, regardless of their family’s zip code or resources, can succeed.”

In a post to X, formerly Twitter, Palmetto Promise said the measure “would be a huge step forward for educational choice in our state, and we hope to see the House and Senate prioritize this important legislation.”