WSJ readers give $ to support school choice

Never underestimate a politician beholden to the teachers unions:

Last month our Brendan Miniter spotlighted the story of Faye Brown, a former public-school teacher who four years ago opened a private school to give low-income families an alternative to failing public schools. Most of them are African-American students in rural Johns Island, South Carolina. The article also featured 16-year-old Rontrell Matthews, who is working to pay his own tuition.

Two things have happened since the article appeared: an outpouring of financial support from Journal readers and a vote by the state Legislature that would undermine the school.

Like Rontrell Matthews, Ms. Brown’s little school–Capers Preparatory Christian Academy–was scraping to get by. Even as her students outperformed their public-school peers on the SATs by nearly 400 points, she dipped into her own retirement savings to keep the lights on.

That may change now. To date our readers have donated some $32,000. One couple in Austria sent $10,000; another person sent money asking that it be used to get each of the nearly 50 students something for Easter. Mr. Matthews now has his tuition paid through next year. And several people have already made a second donation to the school. There is also a gentleman who wants to use $100,000 he recently inherited as seed money for an endowment.

For the first time in the school’s history, it has all of its bills paid in full and it has $26,000 in reserve–not a small sum for a school with an annual budget of about $160,000. Ms. Brown told us she was often up late worrying where her students would end up if she were forced to close her doors. Now she knows she’s not the only one worried about her students.

Late last month the state Legislature voted against giving school vouchers to tens of thousands of poor kids in failing public schools. The bill would have helped many of the Capers kids pay their tuition.

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