Group wants to close loophole in Georgia’s private school scholarship tax credit law

The Southern Education Foundation — a organization founded in 1867 to improve educational excellence and equity in the South — released a report in June highly critical of the private student scholarship program enacted by our Legislature three years ago. Now, the SEF is proposing a change in the program to eliminate a loophole that it says allows students already in private schools to benefit rather than poor kids in failing public schools.

The Georgia General Assembly passed legislation in 2008 allowing individuals and corporations, within limits, to claim a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for collectively donating up to $50 million a year to student scholarship organizations, which funnel the money to private schools.

While supporters maintain that the program provides children of modest means a chance to attend private schools, critics counter that it diverts public tax money to a program that has little to no accountability to taxpayers and has sidestepped its stated original objective of giving poor students the chance to escape low-performing schools and attend private schools.

As a result of a two-year study of the scholarship program, SEF concluded in its June study:

Georgia’s program of tax credit scholarships for private K-12 schools has failed to achieve its primary public aim of providing the state’s low income children attending troubled public schools with new, affordable opportunities for a good education. During the last three years, the state program has diverted more than $72 million of Georgia’s tax revenues to private organizations operating virtually in secret.

Based on all available evidence, SEF finds that the law has been carried out in large measure as a means to publicly finance the attendance of relatively well-to-do students, many of whom are already in private schools. And, the report finds that instead of saving state tax funds, each of the private school scholarships financed by Georgia’s tax credits has cost the state government more than twice what it would spend to send a child to public schools

Now, the SEF is petitioning the Georgia Department of Revenue to adopt administrative rules to stop students attending private schools from qualifying to receive tax credit scholarships by merely registering at but never attending a public school.

Clearly, this program needs review. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution spent a month researching it and found that few of the student scholarship organizations were willing to provide information about their scholarship recipients, including family income. The state Department of Revenue approves the tax credits and requires audits of the scholarship organizations, but appears to make no other attempt to verify that the money is being used as the law requires. This is an invitation for abuse.

According to SEF:

State tax funds in Georgia are diverted to private student scholarship organizations (SSOs) to provide private school scholarships to students “who are enrolled in a Georgia secondary or primary public school.” Several Georgia SSOs and private schools have helped parents of private school students register their children in a public school but never attend, as a way to receive tax credit scholarships.

SEF’s petition aimed at stopping this practice outlines how the SSO law was enacted for the purpose of helping students escape troubled public schools. The petition also demonstrates that Georgia laws on state-supported scholarships use the terms “enroll” and “attend” with interchangeable meanings. These laws, including the SSO law, carry out the legislative intent that students receive state-supported grants, such as HOPE scholarships, only if they are actually attending a school.

Georgia’s tax credit scholarship law diverted more than $72 million in tax revenues from the state treasury from the first year of the program in 2008 to 2010, and more than $18 million has been pre-approved to be diverted this year. In June, SEF issued a report documenting the “enroll” issue, among other abuses.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

47 comments Add your comment

Amazed

July 21st, 2011
1:43 pm

You may want to check into the primary sponsor of this legislation Rep. Erhart. He is listed as the Executive Director of one of these SSO’s. Not surprised at all!

Go Panthers!

July 21st, 2011
2:03 pm

Now this is a welfare program where one can, indeed, live well.

catlady

July 21st, 2011
2:07 pm

I havw written before about the travesty of this being a direct tax writeoff.

The plug should be pulled–we cannot afford tax write offs like this!

It in effect increases everyone else’s taxes!

Ernest

July 21st, 2011
2:08 pm

Where’s the transparency with this program? If they can’t show what this money is going towards, perhaps the payments should be eliminated. Unless someone is trying to hide something…..

Go Panthers!

July 21st, 2011
2:10 pm

Again, the oversight issue that I have with charters rears it head. Lack of oversight of the SSO’s should be criminal. No other industry in this country could get away with this little transparency. In light of the CRCT scandal, all metro SSO’s should volunteer to scholarship a certain percentage of APS students. That would at least show some sincerity in the intent of this program and their SSO’s. I’m not holding my breath that it will happen.

I meant to say, now this is a welfare program that allows one to fare well.

David Sims

July 21st, 2011
2:11 pm

“…critics counter that it diverts public tax money to a program that has little to no accountability to taxpayers and has sidestepped its stated original objective of giving poor students the chance to escape low-performing schools and attend private schools.”

It’s usually a mistake to refer to “low-performing schools.” What these are, instead, are schools with mostly low-performing students in them. If you were to swap the entire student enrollments between a low-performing school and a high-performing school, and make no other changes, the school that had been low-performing would become high-performing, and the school that had been high-performing would become low-performing.

Transferring students does not remove the problem; it only changes the location of the problem.

old school doc

July 21st, 2011
2:16 pm

I have long said this program, while it has nice intentions, is no more than welfare for the wealthy. Who do we have to speak to/write in order to get this nonsense ended? Why on earth do my tax dollars need to finance private schools? If private schools (such as Pace Academy) care so much about SES/diversity then they should use their MANY resources to finance scholaships for deserving children regardless! They only care about SES/diversity when it comes on someone else’s dime.

Active in Cherokee

July 21st, 2011
2:27 pm

Everyone involved with public schools knows there are certain students that will be registered for public school for ten days or so, never show up, then magically disappear. Needless to say its never the students’ whose ‘back to school’ clothes soley consists of a package of undershirts from the Dollar General.

If this program was working efficiently, not being widely abused, and granted ‘oversight’ that other school programs are subjected to I wouldn’t have much issue with it. However, because of the massive abuse, its just another drain on our already depleted public schools funding with very little to show in return.

Chris

July 21st, 2011
4:21 pm

Why are we demanding oversight and transparency from private entities? If you take issue with the tax writeoffs, that’s one thing, but these private schools, funded with legally allowed monies, should not be expected to open up their books to the public.

MB

July 21st, 2011
4:31 pm

@Chris Read again. Folks are calling for transparency in the organizations funded with tax revenues. These funds are NOT being used primarily as another alternative for students in poorly performing schools. They ARE being used, in many cases, to allow Erhart’s buds to pay for part of their kids’ private school tuition with your taxes (and mine) in a time where some school systems are RIFing and furloughing teachers. If they have nothing they need to hide, why are they hiding anything?

To back up Active’s note, I’ve been in the front office when parents have come in to get the student registration packet and ADMITTED that they don’t intend to enroll their children. Sometimes they’ve seemed a bit embarrassed by the admission, and other times they just want to know what’s the minimum they need to complete to qualify as enrolled for this program.

Atrocious – agree that they should only keep if if every child in an NI school has been offered a (full) scholarship through this program first. And ask for transparency in that as well!

MB

July 21st, 2011
4:47 pm

@Sims If this program was administered appropriately, it COULD take kids with potential out of an environment of low performance and reset their goals. You’ve heard of breaking the cycle? It isn’t being used primarily as such, though, it seems, and those in question aren’t very forthcoming to show otherwise…)

Compare/contrast exercise, from original AJC article on this topic http://www.ajc.com/news/scholarship-funds-policies-under-960904.html. Which do you think was more the purported intent of the law?

a) “Georgia Student Scholarship Organization spent 9.5 percent of its contributions paying its three officers — Robert Jasion, Mark Langston and Stefani Sanchez — $109,500 each in 2009. The law allows scholarship organizations to spend 10 percent on administration.”

(Doesn’t ten percent seem a bit high for administrative expenses? If your goal is to put more students in better educational environments….)

b) “Diane Starkovich, superintendent of schools for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta, said GRACE gave out about 250 scholarships last year worth $800,000 to $900,000. They are spread out over 38 Catholic schools and range from a few hundred dollars up to $8,000. All are based on need, with average family income about $45,000″

(Even at $900K, that averages $3600 per student. Parents are kicking some in there; or the Catholic schools are investing their scholarship dollars into more students. What do you think they have as administrative expenses? My guess would be much lower. Just sayin’…)

I’m not a voucher advocate, but could see this could possibly serve well in some cases. Do we address this with Ways and Means, Maureen? Education Committees of House and Senate?

Paddy O

July 21st, 2011
5:05 pm

I have always felt very uncomfortable with this law, as the wealthy do have a tendency to exploit well intended laws for their pecuniary benefit (income tax loophole, anyone?). Surprised me so few folks protested the transfer of tax money to for profit, high cost private schools. However, with the paltry guidelines, and refusal of recipient schools to enumerate and detail the recipients (minimal transparency, unless of course you are gaming the system) – I am moving beyond discomfort to outright dislike.

Paddy O

July 21st, 2011
5:09 pm

Chris – do you work for a private school, or an SSO?

Jon East

July 21st, 2011
5:41 pm

Hi. I work for a scholarship organization in Florida, whose tax credit program was held up in the foundation’s report as an example that Georgia should follow for accountability. Needless to say, I agree with a number of the criticisms in the report. I also want to call attention to the fact that at least one new Georgia scholarship organization, Arete Scholars Fund, is serving only low-income children in an accountable way and trying to do the right thing. We’re working with Arete, and it has adopted almost all the requirements from the Florida law — even though it is not required to do so. I think Arete can held lead the way toward meaningful reform in Georgia.

Blawgdawg75

July 21st, 2011
7:48 pm

C’mon AJC! Here’s your opportunity to investigate a potential new scandal rather than just re-hash the same ol’ story about the Atlanta City Schools. Tax money is indirectly going to pay tuition in private schools. While the private schools may not have any responsibility to open their books for public scrutiny, the so-called “scholarship organizations” certainly should be required to do so! We should also be informed about the academic progress of the kids who get these “scholarships.”

mom to four

July 21st, 2011
8:01 pm

To “Old School Doc” your tax monies are NOT being used to fund private schools, only the tax monies of those who contribute to the SSO and fill out the proper paper work. My husband and I have 4 children, all attended or currently attend private/Catholic schools, with no help from any SSO. We contribute to an SSO because we know that our contribution gives another family the ability to afford private/Catholic school. This is not used by wealthy families to send their own children but a chance to give back to the community and afford another child the opportunities our children have had.

I’m amazed at the small-mindedness of some of the bloggers on this site. Those who say they want disadvantaged children to be helped, but when a program enables a family to have a choice, the choice or program is maligned. I have to ask… What are YOU doing to help disadvantaged children receive a GOOD education in a safe environment?

FBT

July 21st, 2011
8:46 pm

Most children receiving the scholarships are taking less than the local public school spends per student. Is the money for educating the child in the best school for the child or just protecting adults and institutions?

old school doc

July 21st, 2011
8:53 pm

to “mom”– Yes I know my money is not going to the private schools. But state funds are regularly being taken from the public schools, teachers put on furlough, etc. while we can allocate crazy amounts of money to this tax credit program. You and your family are quite generous in your support of the needs of other students– AND you can do so without going through the state. Why not contribute directly to your schools’ scholarship funds?

Between this program, vouchers, charters– who will be left to attend my local schools– the dregs? Give local public schools the latitude to do some of the innovative programs in charters, and/or the ability to send “those that aren’t a good fit” to other schools, and see how they prosper!

Lee

July 21st, 2011
9:35 pm

Let’s see, all those years I was paying private school tuition AND property/income/sales taxes to the government. In addition, the government was saving money because they didn’t have to pay for my daughter’s education.

Where was the Southern Education Foundation at when that was going on?

KOS

July 21st, 2011
9:35 pm

Maureen, could you please provide readers your thoughts regarding potential alternatives for addressing the fallacies of this program?

One policy route would be to encourage your respective state lawmakers to introduce, co-sign, and/or support an amended version of HB 1133 in the next legislative session. The public must get behind such an amended bill to ensure that it makes it through the sausage-making political process and that no last minute backroom language is inserted to create other loopholes.

The SEF puts forth a strong argument, despite a lack of complete information to conduct a thorough assessment of SSOs. The petition is correct in its contention that if HOPE recipients were allowed to simply enroll/register at an institution without ever attending, yet still received HOPE benefits, there would be a huge outcry, including affluent HOPE families who benefit from the program.

At the very least, let us as citizens of GA be consistent and fair in holding users and beneficiaries of tax funding accountable.

Active in Cherokee

July 21st, 2011
9:39 pm

@ Jon East – thanks for the post about Arete. If they are doing what you say, I totally agree they should take the lead on this for the other SSO’s if this law is going to become successful in GA

@mom – “This is not used by wealthy families to send their own children” – I respecfully disagree (see my early post and the post by MB that follows) I respect that you are following the law as intended, but not everyone is as truthful and sincere as you.

KOS

July 21st, 2011
10:01 pm

@mom to four – I agree with the underlying premise of your comment. Yes we all should be concerned about and support providing at-risk and low-income students opportunities to receive a quality education. Maybe “choice” in the sense of private or parochial schools is a viable option for some.

However, given the lack of disclosure that SSOs in GA currently provide, the public essentially does not know the degree to which at-risk and low-income students are really being served by these SSO affiliated entities. In an ideal world, we would/should not need a tax credit program to meet this particular outcome. SSO affiliated entities (many which are tax-exempt) would provide scholarships out of their own funds because doing so aligns with their missions (if that’s the case), not because a tax credit program incentivizes them to do so.

Accountability matters a lot. Otherwise the quality of public debate is diminished due to a lack of understanding regarding the facts.

Chris

July 22nd, 2011
1:03 am

Paddy, I do not work for a private school or SSO. I also don’t know anything more about this process than what I read in this article. I asked the question I did in earnest. I am a politically conservative person. It bothers me when the government tries to police the private sector.

MB, you claim that “Folks are calling for transparency in the organizations funded with tax revenues.” In my mind there is an important difference between an organization being funded with tax dollars and an organization being funded with private donations. Even if those donations lead to tax exemptions.

I am not arguing that this isn’t a loophole that should be closed. I am arguing that the government is trying to have their cake and eat it too. We cannot allow the government to regulate private industry practice which is appoved by law. Many peple have made the point that if there is nothing to hide, why not open the books. I reply, I have nothing illegal in my house, but I am not going to invite the police over to search through it.

Hmm

July 22nd, 2011
2:58 am

Chris, your analogy, “I have nothing illegal in my house, but I am not going to invite the police over to search through it” really doesn’t hold substance for this debate. This article is talking about finances and being accountable for the money that someone gives to you for a specific purpose.

Try this analogy to see if it makes a little more sense. You loan a friend $100 to buy paint for his kitchen. You tell him that he doesn’t have to pay you back as long as he actually uses the money to paint his kitchen. A few months later, he asks to borrow another $100 to paint his living room. When you ask to see the kitchen, he tells you no (or he only shows you one wall). What do you do? Would you give him the $100 to paint the living room even though he has not proven that he has done the right thing with the first $100? Would you continue to give him money to paint the other rooms in his house?

This is essentially what is occuring with this program.

Shocked at this

July 22nd, 2011
3:38 am

Enter your comments here

MB

July 22nd, 2011
7:21 am

@Chris Look again; these ARE tax dollars. This program involves tax CREDITS, not exemptions, so the “donations” are actually individuals and businesses routing their taxes to SSOs. (Read the article again and you’ll see that 72 million dollars in tax revenues have gone to this program.) I think the legislators who passed this bill would find it hard to justify to their constituents that they’d support those tax credits going to pay for a CEO’s grandchild to attend a $15K private school, don’t you?

Inman Park Boy

July 22nd, 2011
9:14 am

That’s right: go after private schools where education is actually taking place. Change the educational funding scheme so that the money follows the student, and you will see schools get better TOMORROW!

Paddy O

July 22nd, 2011
10:10 am

these ARE tax dollars, which are being transferred to private schools instead of being paid to the state treasury – in other words, GA republican are contributing to the state’s deficit. However, if these funds WERE being used to help low income kids in bad schools, it would be a beneficial program. BUT, with the lack of transparency, and the SSO’s rejecting requests for a list of whom they have assisted, it appears that something is rotten in Denmark. Wealthy Georgians are very moral relativistic, at least when it comes to monetary activity & tax benefits (highly exploitative).

old school doc

July 22nd, 2011
10:17 am

amen, paddy o!

Warrior Woman

July 22nd, 2011
10:38 am

One important note – refusing to provide private financial information TO THE AJC or the SEF (which was what prompted the claim of lack of transparency in the original article) doesn’t mean, by itself, that there is a lack of transparency. The family financial information is niether the AJC’s business nor the SEF’s business, and both have shown themselves to be opposed to many educational innovations that threaten the public school status quo. IMHO, an SSO would be showing poor judgment to open their books to either. Show me SSOs that refused to provide information to their regulator, apparently the GA Department of Revenue in this case, and then you can talk about a lack of transparency.

Warrior Woman

July 22nd, 2011
10:51 am

@Hmm – A more apt analogy would be “You loan a friend $100 to buy paint for his kitchen. You tell him that he doesn’t have to pay you back as long as he actually uses the money to paint his kitchen. A few months later, he asks to borrow another $100 to paint his living room. A stranger that is not party to you contract, but is a supporter of requiring everyone to use contractors for all painting jobs asks to see the kitchen. When your friend tells him no, the stranger writes a report bashing homeownders’ ability to paint their own walls as taking money away from painting contractors.”

Mom of 3

July 22nd, 2011
11:14 am

To Mom to 4—– “give back to the community?” I am so tired of that expression. My husband and I are very generous with our money but we are not “giving back.” We are merely giving. Also, I have 3 children in private school and like most of the posters, take great issue with the SSO’s. I know several students at my daughter’s high school who, due to poor parent choices, are low on funds and receiving help from the school. This year her school funded 16 students through an SSO. Unless I know exactly which student my tax money is funding, I refuse to participate.

Paddy O—–agree with most of what you say in the blogs, but please don’t lump all wealthy Georgians into 1 group. My husband and I have made choices, not upgrading our house to show off our income for example, so we can be givers. I agree that many of the wealthy are greedy and exploitive, but not all.

Math Teacher turned Tutor

July 22nd, 2011
1:13 pm

@Mom of 3… I agree 100%… I am so sick and tired of hearing “give back”… give WHAT back? NO ONE gave me anything but my parents!

As for the money, if the state is not educating those children because they are in private or homeschooled then why exactly is it they need the money? To misspend it?

After 20 years of teaching and seeing the WASTE on the administrative, both local and state, level, including that of lawmakers, I think they need to all shut up and focus on fixing the waste. The school systems get adequate money to do what they need, it’s just piss poor choices that have them where they are.

When schools can waste money on things that are not only unnecessary, but frivolous… such as astroturf on football fields while reducing teachers and increasing class size, then they give up the right to complain about ‘needing more’ to ‘address the needs of whomever’…. suck it up and make it happen by perhaps eliminating some useless 6 figure positions!

Lee

July 22nd, 2011
1:48 pm

Actually, in all fairness, the tax credit should be exanded to all parents who place their children in an accredited private school.

For example, if the state pays $6000 per student to the local districts for each student, then it should offer a tax credit for the same amount. This credit would be revenue neutral and the locals are still getting property taxes from the parents.

Eric Cochling

July 22nd, 2011
3:06 pm

The Center for an Educated Georgia couldn’t agree more with SEF’s criticism of the “enroll-for-a-day” scheme. In fact, just last session CEG promoted a bill (House Bill 369) that would have, among other things, ended the practice by defining “enrolled” to require students to be enrolled at (and, therefore, attend) a public school for at least a full grading period.

When it was evident that the bill would not receive a vote (the bill still remains in a House committee), we approached the Department of Revenue and asked them to issue regulations defining enrollment as meaning that students had to attend a public school for at least a grading period.

CEG hopes that the SEF petition will provide additional encouragement to the Department to address the problem and strengthen a program that is providing thousands of students with the opportunity to receive an excellent education.

Our original commentary on the controversy may be found here: http://tinyurl.com/3z6qb7z

Lee

July 22nd, 2011
4:09 pm

“The Center for an Educated Georgia (CEG) works to ensure that the best educational opportunities and policies exist for all Georgia students.

That is, of course, unless you are the child of one of those evil rich people who are already enrolled in private school, then they will do everything in their power to screw you over. They tried to get the law changed and when that didn’t work, they tried a backdoor approach with the Dept of Revenue.

Exhibit A as to the dysfunctional education system in America. Too many groups with their narrow, petty-minded agendas who will screw you over at the drop of the hat.

MD

July 22nd, 2011
6:37 pm

WOW!!! Just WOW!!! Look at the wealth envy in most of the comments on this thread. My kids go to a private school. The tuition is about $20,000 per child per year. We live a north Fulton and pay over $8,000 in property tax each year that goes to support public schools that our kids don’t even attend. If anything, I should be outrageous. Y’all owe me. Be grateful.

MD

July 22nd, 2011
6:46 pm

Just looked up Southern Education Foundation. They have no agenda. They just want to help the poor people. Yeah right!!!

MD

July 22nd, 2011
6:54 pm

Just one question. How many of you have ever given to Georgia GOAL in the last three years since the program became available? How many of you have even heard about this program before reading this post? You are a bunch of self-righteous underachievers who can only pretend to be charitable. My kids don’t benefit from GOAL backed scholarship, nor do we even consider it. Please be grateful!

Buck Alford

July 22nd, 2011
8:13 pm

Thanks for the kind words, Jon East. You’re right ̶ there are SSOs in Georgia trying to do the right thing. At Arete Scholars Fund, we agree with SEF, CEG and others that the term “enroll” should be understood as “enroll and attend,” and we hope that more SSOs and the schools they serve will make the same common sense interpretation. Through the Georgia tuition tax credit scholarship program, Arete is providing new, child-centered educational opportunities to low-income families throughout the state. And we’re doing it responsibly.

In our pilot year, Arete awarded 262 scholarships based on the income guidelines of the federal free and reduced lunch program. Approximately 70% of our recipients were minorities, 98% met the HUD definition for low income, the average household size was 4.7, and average household income was just $30,000/year. For the 2011-12 school year, we have already awarded 1,050 need-based scholarships and are working hard to provide new learning opportunities to 2,000 students for the year. It’s been a joy to see students who have seldom enjoyed opportunities get excited ̶ often for the first time ̶ about learning and excelling.

Along with CEG, Arete fully supports greater accountability standards and we believe this year’s HB 325 was a step in the right direction. Still, we agree there is much work to be done to ensure access to an excellent education for students from all income levels.

Chris

July 22nd, 2011
9:46 pm

To Hmm and others, I think we may have to agree to disagree on this issue. I really did consider your points. From a morale standpoint I agree that this is a crumby use of money. Where we disagree is your claim that “This article is talking about finances and being accountable for the money that someone gives to you for a specific purpose”.

The money may begin as public funds; however, as soon as that money is legally awarded to a private citizen or a private school, the government no longer holds sway over it. If a private company wants to take a pile of money, stack it in front of their business and burn it, the government has no say. A similar situation to this happens all over the country. Thousands of college students take out government loans for college in amounts in excess of their actual immediate expenses. They get the overage returned to them by the bursar’s office and spend it on whatever. The government doesn’t monitor if they use it for beer money for the semester because as soon as that money was legally dispersed to those students it was no longer a public matter.

Paddy O

July 22nd, 2011
11:31 pm

MD – your criticism are a exceptionally shallow and coarse, and not well thought out. I don’t have any kids, and have been paying for other kids to got to school for 30 years, and hopefully will for another 30 years. Remarkable how a wealthy person would be so Scroogish. CHRIS: The government still SHOULD have accountability when it transfers funds from the state treasury to the SSO’s – the state SHOULD be worried about the wealthy abusing the system. Would you say that the SSO’s are quasi-public due to their narrow purpose (the transfer of public funds, which until they reach the private school should still be considered public funds)? Regarding the student example: it is anticipated that the borrower repays these funds, and until Obama altered the process (unless that was NOT passed into law), I believe borrowers were mandated to repay, and could not even shed the debt via bankruptcy.

Paddy O

July 22nd, 2011
11:34 pm

MD – also, don’t know about wealth envy, but one of the reasons so many Georgian’s gripe about our relatively low property tax is due to the fact that they can not hide that wealth, as they can when compared to the income tax. The wealthy get a very good deal here in GA – predominantly BECAUSE very few of the citizens have wealth envy – we respect and are glad that some of fellow Georgians have the aptitude & fortitude to accumulate this wealth, and hope they keep on trucking.

LL

July 23rd, 2011
10:36 am

Wow is all I can say. I am another of those many folks who have contributed to this program. My child attends a private school and our family has gladly contributed to this program, though we will never receive a dime from it. We have also contributed to our local charter school which we will never utilize. Why? Because frankly sending children to the local DCSS school is akin to child neglect. (Please don”t give me the get out and improve it line. Been there, done that, and realized that thanks to the corruption and complete dysfunction of this school system it is a total waste of effort). While I make my “forced donation” to DCSS each year, I truly wish that the parents of children required to attend some of these schools could have the options my child has and therefore I donate to an SSO and our neighborhood charter school.

I am not aware of a single family who has abused this program at our school. This report makes broad accusations based on a few hearsay incidents. SEF admits that there is very little information available to them about this program. SSO’s do not have an obligation to report to the SEF (and I agree they have an agenda)> This group took a couple of “someone told us this happened” incidents and turned them into a sweeping accusation of this program. I don’t have any problem with the agency that oversees this program reviewing the reporting requirements for SSOs. But it is not for the SEF to oversee. This whole thing really has the appearance of a group which hates the concept of any kind of choice making exaggerated claims and bullying to get their way.

I really wish groups like this would spend half this time and effort trying to fix the inefficiency, waste, and downright corruption in school systems like DCSS. (Don’t see anything on SEF’s website addressing those issues). How much taxpayer money has been diverted from its true purpose of educating students by DCSS?

Paddy O

July 24th, 2011
12:33 am

LL – you live there and are not bothering to do so – actually, you abandoned the system and sent your kids elsewhere – YOU must know that is NOT their mission – if YOU wish to make it YOUR mission, get your butt moving. An excellent example, famous in Georgia, of marginalize the tattletale, sweep it under the rug, and keep on trucking.

MD

July 25th, 2011
9:54 am

“MD – your criticism are a exceptionally shallow and coarse, and not well thought out. I don’t have any kids, and have been paying for other kids to got to school for 30 years…”

“LL – you live there and are not bothering to do so – actually, you abandoned the system and sent your kids elsewhere …”

@ Paddy O – I see you have no kids. No wonder you blamed some of us for abandoning the public school system. Another sign of you wealth envy, my friend. I can hear this in the background – “If my kids can’t get private school education, no other kids should be allowed to get it.”

Rob

July 27th, 2011
2:31 pm

My kids attend private school. My wife and I make less than 50K/year. We are not rich. Why should we have to pay for public schools our kids do not attend? If I was not forced to pay for failing public schools but could keep my tax money and use it to educate my kids, we wouldn’t need a tax credit now would we. You can end the private school tax credit when I can opt out of paying for public schools.