Competition is, in general, better than monopoly -- and in this case, the monopoly was already failing. Even if you're not a big fan of the free market, why would you want to preserve a monopoly that's obviously doing a bad job? How could allowing choice possibly have been worse than keeping students trapped in failing public schools?
The governor announced his plan last year. Thousands of parents cheered the idea. But most public educators and politicians didn't.
School boards and teachers unions objected. PTAs even sent kids home with a letter saying, "Contact your legislator. How can we spend state money on something that hasn't been proven?"
(Apparently, it was better to spend state money on something that had been proven not to work.)
The governor's plan "would decimate public education in South Carolina, and it's just not good for us," said State Representative Todd Rutherford.
The teachers union paid for ads that argued schools were getting better. Legislators obediently voted down the governor's plan, 60-53.
The state superintendent of schools, Inez Tenenbaum, was relieved. "It was an unproven, unaffordable, and unaccountable plan," she told me.
It may have been unaccountable in the bureaucratic sense -- lacking the arbitrary supervision of some appointed head honcho -- but it would have been the essence of accountability in a much more meaningful way: Schools would have had to satisfy students and parents, or they would have lost their customers.
And unproven? Yes. It was unproven because the bureaucrats, the teachers' unions and their legislative allies are vigilant in their efforts to prevent anyone from trying it. They've gotten their hands on America's children, and they have no intention of letting go.