School choice bill fails to overcome veto

State education chief Jim Rex said Friday he remains committed to public school choice.

The school choice bill would have relaxed regulations that limit student movement between public schools, but proponents failed Thursday to muster enough votes to overcome a gubernatorial veto.

Nevertheless, Rex said he is not deterred. He said he learned "a valuable lesson" about how commitments on controversial legislation shift quickly.

Rex said he form an office of school choice within the state Department of Education.

"We're going to continue pushing the idea of more options (in public schools), Rex said. "It's an idea whose time has come."

Denver Merrill, spokesman for South Carolinians for Responsible Government, a pro-school choice group pushing for legislation to help parents underwrite private school tuition, was heartened that white and black lawmakers upheld the veto. They "saw the fallacies in the open enrollment bill, and we believe we can work with both groups to forge some kind of compromise."