This week is National School Choice Week. School choice stands apart from other education reforms, not only in its growing bipartisan support, but also in its ability to deliver results without increasing costs to taxpayers.
One school choice reform that is getting results is Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program for low-income kids. Florida’s program began in 2001 providing tax credits for scholarships to students from low-income families. In 2007-08 alone, the program supported about 23,000 students, about 95% of whom would not have been able to attend a private school otherwise. It has helped bring Florida from among the lower performing states in educational achievement to among the best. While Education Week now ranks Florida as 5th in the nation, Oregon (despite having a more privileged population and spending more per student) is ranked at 43rd.
The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program is also saving the state millions of dollars every year, as the size of students’ scholarships is less than what public schools spend on students. Oregon, too, could save $7.7 million per year if it would adopt a scholarship tax credit program like Florida’s, according to a report by Cascade Policy Institute.
Forty-four percent of Oregon parents would choose a private school if they could afford it, but few can. It doesn’t have to be that way. Tax credits for scholarship programs would save Oregon millions of dollars, while restoring power to parents and taxpayers and bringing more children the kind of education that fits them.
Christina Martin is Director of the Asset Ownership Project at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.