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  • School Choice Momentum Continues Across the Country

    The positive momentum from the “Year of School Choice” in 2011 is being carried over into 2012, with several states primed to implement major reforms.

    Louisiana, already a pioneer in the school choice movement, is poised to make its New Orleans voucher program available statewide, allowing low-income students attending “C”-rated schools or lower to receive vouchers to attend private schools of their choice. If implemented, 380,000 students would qualify for the program, which has received high praise from New Orleans families.

    South Carolina is examining a proposal to implement a tuition tax credit program for families. If approved, families who choose to send their children to private schools would be eligible for a $4,000 state income tax deduction. If they choose to homeschool their children, they would be eligible for a $2,000 deduction. Grooms explained:

    Parents have always had the most information and the best motivation to make decisions for their own children.… Freedom in education isn’t just academically effective and economically efficient; it’s also the right thing to do for families.… There are 15,000 low-income students in private schools in South Carolina.… Their parents are really sacrificing to keep their sons and daughters enrolled in the school they believe is best for that child. Those same parents pay over $8 million in state income taxes each year, but save the state $72 million in public school spending. There is a total disconnect here.

    In Maine, Governor Paul LePage has announced a plan that would allow students to attend public schools outside their districts that have available space. Another proposal would permit tax dollars to follow a child to attend a private school of choice.

    Florida is also examining a plan to raise the limit on the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program—which provides tax credits to businesses that donate to scholarship-granting organizations—to $229 million, up from $218.75 million. Another proposal would allow more access to the Florida Virtual School for K-3 students by expanding course offerings and removing requirements that all students must spend a year in public school before enrolling in the program.

    Idaho is considering lifting the cap on the number of charter schools that can open annually in an effort to expand the state’s options. Current state law allows for only six charters to open each year, and only one may open in any district each year. State Representative Bob Nonini says charters must be given the chance to open more freely.

    Finally, Wisconsin’s state assembly has passed a special needs scholarship program that would allow students with disabilities to receive scholarships of up to $13,400 to attend schools of their parents’ choice. Brian Pleva of the American Federation for Children said:

    This plan is about providing families who have children with special needs with educational choice, because they know their children better than anyone else. As we’ve seen in programs around the country, giving more options to parents can transform the lives of families and give students a real chance to succeed.

    Last year’s “Year of School Choice” is continuing into 2012, meaning that even more students will reap the benefits of a quality education and be given the opportunity for a brighter future.

    Evan Walter is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to School Choice Momentum Continues Across the Country

    1. Theresa Williamson says:

      Texas needs to have School Choice and vouchers to pay for it.

    2. James says:

      "Those same parents pay over $8 million in state income taxes each year, but save the state $72 million in public school spending. There is a total disconnect here."

      I find that argument specious.

      I have no children; thus, I have saved my state and locality a great deal of money, as they don't have to provide any services for my nonexistent children.

      Why, then, do parents get tax deductions for having children and thus draining the state coffers, while I who save my state money have to pay more in taxes?

      By the same argument presented for tuition tax credits, I should get a tax credit for not having children and thus saving the state money, and those with children should pay more in taxes because they cost more.

      • Nick F says:

        Ideally we would look at education the way we look at any other commodity, which would mean that you wouldn't be taxed for a service you aren't using. As it is we do pay taxes for education under the auspices that it provides a collective benefit to have an educated populace. I won’t get into some of the practical and philosophical implications of that position, as that would be a much longer post…

        If you accept that you will pay taxes for "education" then why should government have a publicly financed monopoly on the spending? That is the question here. So the comment: "Those same parents pay over $8 million in state income taxes each year, but save the state $72 million in public school spending. There is a total disconnect here." Is relevant if you consider that the spending for education should be just that…spending for education.

        In this respect the parent that educates their children privately is being denied access to funding they would otherwise have (and which you wouldn’t since you don’t have children) if government didn't arbitrarily deny it to them out of a desire to control the educational system. It begs the question if this moneys primary purpose is to fund general education or a specific kind of state controlled education that has less to do with raising the general knowledge and skills of a future labor force and informed citizenry or the protection of a politically powerful institution in the form of teachers unions etc.

    3. Samantha says:

      Ideally the goal should be to fix these "C-rated" schools, not give students and families the choice to abandon them and thus leave them in worse shape, now D or F rated schools. And what happens to the students who are not admitted into out-of-district or private schools? Are they forced to stay at these underperforming schools? There's a bigger issue at hand here that I realize cannot be fixed overnight or with ease but must be addressed. All students should have access to a successful academic career and a solidly performing educational institution.

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