Washington state is considering a major school choice proposal.
The proposal would allow corporations to receive a 100 percent tax credit for contributions to scholarship-granting organizations, which would provide vouchers to children from low-income families to attend private schools of their choice. The scholarship program would have an initial cap of $100 million.
The proposal states that a tuition tax scholarship option in Washington would “expand educational opportunities, improving the quality of educational services within the state, and ensuring that all parents may exercise and enjoy their basic right to educate their children.”
Moreover, proponents note that the scholarship tax credit option would save the state $6,300 for each student who is awarded a scholarship, making it possible that the state will save between $20 million and $60 million during the 2013–2015 bienniums. The Freedom Foundation points out, “The reduction in state expenditures is greater than the reduction in state tax revenue.”
The financial benefits for Washington taxpayers could be significant, and Washington children stand to gain even more from robust school choice options.
Educational opportunity and choice should not be limited to the children of parents who can afford to purchase a home in a nice neighborhood, or who can pay their local property taxes and private school tuition.
Low-income students consigned to their nearest public school will likely benefit the most from educational options such as tuition tax credit scholarships. A recent study published by the Friedman Foundation shows that educational opportunity contributes to student academic achievement, increased graduation rates, and improvement in public schools. With the school choice movement booming across the nation, data from randomized-control evaluations show that students flourish with more opportunity to meet their individual needs and public schools improve when parents are able to vote with their feet. Evaluations show that public schools improve simply from the threat of private competition.
Washington’s proposal in favor of school choice is good for everyone: the taxpayer, the parent, and especially the child. As Heritage’s Lindsey Burke notes:
School choice provides hope.… Whether through education savings accounts, tax credit scholarship programs, vouchers, online learning, charter schools, or homeschooling, school choice allows access to quality education options that best match individual children’s learning needs.
Washington families should have a choice in their children’s education. Education choice options like tuition tax credit scholarships empower parents to direct their children’s education, save taxpayer money, and give hope to children for increased educational opportunities.