Tuesday, May 02, 2017

How Trump Can Expand School Choice

Cardinal Dolan’s op ed in today’s WSJ:


How Trump Can Expand School Choice

A scholarship tax credit would put poor kids in good private schools—and relieve packed public ones.

By Timothy Michael Dolan

March 8, 2017 6:41 p.m. ET


While addressing Congress last week, President Trump called for passage of “an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth.” He added that families should be able to choose “public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home” schooling. These comments, and his subsequent visit to St. Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, Fla., are encouraging. I hope Mr. Trump will push Congress to makes scholarship tax credits available to working-class families nationwide.

These programs provide tax credits for individuals or corporations that donate to nonprofit scholarship organizations. St. Andrew’s is a classic example of how students benefit. Some 300 students at the school receive scholarships through the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program. Statewide, nearly 98,000 low-income children attend parochial or private schools thanks to this program.

I have seen firsthand why Catholic families and leaders support scholarship tax credits. They help advance educational and economic justice. They strengthen society by creating opportunity for those who might not otherwise have it. Recipients of the credits aren’t the only ones who benefit. Last year the Peabody Journal of Education reviewed 21 studies on how school choice affects test scores of nonparticipating students. Twenty concluded that competition led to improvements in affected public schools.

The taxpayer also saves money. Providing alternatives reduces both school overcrowding and costs. Public-school classrooms would not be able to handle the considerable influx of children if Catholic and other religious schools closed. We save the public money, and we educate children just as well, if not better, for half the cost when you compare Catholic school tuition with public school spending per pupil.


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