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      Activists support education reform bill at Statehouse

      Education was a hot topic at the South Carolina State House Tuesday.

      About 100 state Freedom Works activists were at the House urging the state Senate to pass school choice reform legislation H4894. The bill was passed by the house last month after several failed attempts. It uses tax credits and deductions to help families transfer their children to other public or private schools. Parents would also get help if they want to home school their kids. The tax credits would go to scholarships and help children on free and reduced lunch, Medicaid, and those who have special needs.

      Supporters say the Senate is trying to delay the vote until the end of the session in June; which would kill the bill until next year. Critics argue the bill would take money away from public schools; but State Representative Eric Bedingfield said that is not the case.

      "There are many children in our state who are trapped in under-performing schools. Who's parents would enjoy having other options but may not can afford those options. The scholarship granting organization specifically targets those who don't have the ability to go outside the public education system."

      South Carolina currently spends about $12,000 per student annually. However, the state ranks 50th in the nation in test scores.