Archive for the ‘Vouchers’ Category

Indiana Supreme Court upholds voucher program

Breaking news out of Indiana where the state Supreme Court has upheld the state’s voucher program.

While Indiana’s Choice Scholarship imposes income caps, they are broader than most voucher programs. The amount of the voucher depends on family income and size. For example, a family of five can qualify for half the $4,500 voucher with an annual income of up to $76,5007.

According to the Indianapolis Star:

The ruling, on a teachers union-supported lawsuit from 2011, ends the legal challenge to the program at the state level. The case could be made again in federal court. But in 2002 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar program in Ohio, making any further appeal a long shot.

The Indiana case began shortly after the program was created in 2011 when a group of teachers, school officials and parents who oppose vouchers sued the state, arguing the program was unconstitutional.

Vouchers allow low income families to redirect tax dollars from their local public school …

Continue reading Indiana Supreme Court upholds voucher program »

Make the Georgia Tax Credit Scholarship more transparent — and expand it so more children benefit

Adam Emerson is the director of the program on parental choice at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy think tank that recently released “School Choice Regulations: Red Tape or Red Herring?”

Adam Emerson

Adam Emerson

In this piece, Emerson urges more transparency in how Georgia’s controversial private school scholarship tax credit program works. In what he calls a “grand bargain,” Emerson proposes, “More transparency in exchange for more (or more generous) scholarships.”

By Adam Emerson

The Georgia Senate recently took an incremental step toward responsible and accountable private school choice by unanimously passing a bill that shines more sunlight upon the Peach State’s embattled tax credit scholarship program. If the House concurs, then parents and taxpayers will have more information about the students and the scholarship groups that participate.

But Senate Bill 243 doesn’t go far enough. Yes, it requires the nonprofit groups that administer the scholarships to …

Continue reading Make the Georgia Tax Credit Scholarship more transparent — and expand it so more children benefit »

Parent trigger and charters: As we offer more school choice, what happens to children left behind?

grabarart0920Shanna Miles is an educator and a parent working in the metro Atlanta area. An avid literacy advocate, she lobbies to ensure that every child has access to a free and public library in a community.

She wrote this piece for the Monday print AJC education op-ed page.

By Shanna Miles

In the 1840s, Irish Catholic parents lobbied for local control of schools so that their children wouldn’t be indoctrinated by a Protestant curriculum.

In 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower had to call in the National Guard to lead nine African-American children past a picket line of angry white parents who were outraged that their school was to be integrated.

Fast-forward a half-century or so, and the war between government and parents still rages with the passage of Amendment 1 and the introduction of the “Parent Trigger” charter bill. Now winding its way through the Legislature, House Bill 123 would allow parents and teachers to force a local school board to consider their petition to change their …

Continue reading Parent trigger and charters: As we offer more school choice, what happens to children left behind? »

Private school tax credit: A $170 million tax diversion that Georgia lawmakers cloak in secrecy. Why?

State Rep. Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, met with the AJC Friday for a general discussion on education issues in the state.

By design, it is impossible to know how the $170 million in private school tax credit has been spent or on whom (AJC file photo)

By design, it is impossible to know how the $170 million in private school tax credits have been spent or on whom. (AJC file photo)

Among his concerns: Whether the private school scholarship tax credit is working as it was presented to the General Assembly  — as a means to help low-income kids whose parents had no other way to afford private schools.

“I want us to make sure the money is going to the kids I have envisioned so they can have better choices,” he said. Lindsey said he disagrees with state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, who recently said the scholarship “was never sold” as a program to benefit only low-income students.

“Rep. Ehrhart and I don’t always agree,” said Lindsey.

The AJC has done several good stories on the tax credit and the challenges — deliberately injected into the law –  in figuring out how the money was being spent and …

Continue reading Private school tax credit: A $170 million tax diversion that Georgia lawmakers cloak in secrecy. Why? »

Complaint will be filed today about the Georgia private school tax credit that operates in secrecy

The AJC is reporting that the Southern Education Foundation will file a complaint today with the state Department of Revenue alleging widespread abuses in the controversial private school scholarship tax credit program.

The tax credit has received national media attention because of allegations of misuse. Yet, state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, the sponsor of the 2008 law creating the tax credit, is introducing a bill today to expand it.

Critics charge that the abuses — allowing donors to designate the recipients of their donation — have turned the private school scholarships into a back-door voucher. When the General Assembly approved the program, lawmakers said the money would enable poor students in public schools to move to private schools. Instead, the money appears to be going to students already in the private schools.

There have been reports that parents were making donations to schools that were then repackaged as “scholarships” for their own kids. In …

Continue reading Complaint will be filed today about the Georgia private school tax credit that operates in secrecy »

National School Choice week: 49 million students still without options

Here is an op-ed column by Robert Enlow, the president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the legacy foundation of Nobel laureate Milton Friedman and his wife Rose. His piece highlights National School Choice week, which kicks off on Sunday, Jan 27.

Enlow addresses the growing choice landscape, including Georgia’s private school tax credit.

By Robert Enlow

Heidi and Frank Green used to worry about their daughters while they were at school. The Clarksville, Indiana couple was concerned about bullying, cursing, large class sizes, a revolving teaching staff, and a general lack of attention for students.

Thankfully, the Greens say their lives have changed for the better as daughters Gillian and Emma are now eager to attend school. Today they are getting quality instruction at their new Catholic school thanks to a voucher program adopted in Indiana two years ago.

“School choice should be everywhere,” said Mrs. Green. “Parents should be able to …

Continue reading National School Choice week: 49 million students still without options »

Students First? Michelle Rhee’s report card: Is the issue more choices or better choices?

Michelle Rhee's advocacy group, StudentsFirst, released state report cards, but the grades have no relation to student achievement.

Michelle Rhee's advocacy group, StudentsFirst, released state report cards, but the grades have no relation to student achievement.

All the discussion about expanding school choice through private school tax credits, charter schools and vouchers glosses over a critical caveat: More choices don’t necessarily lead to better choices.

Earlier this week, Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst organization released a report card on state education policy determined in large part by the extent of school choice afforded families and the effort to dismantle teacher unions.

By focusing on public policy, the StudentsFirst report card looked more on State Houses than schoolhouses. Georgia earned a D-plus because StudentsFirst felt the state doesn’t go far enough in providing information and choices to  parents.

While the StudentsFirst report card considerations are extensive, they don’t include student outcomes, which is why Louisiana dramatically outscores Massachusetts, the state that …

Continue reading Students First? Michelle Rhee’s report card: Is the issue more choices or better choices? »

Lawmakers ignore their moral and constitutional duty to support public education

Here is an essay by Matt Jones, president of EmpowerED Georgia, a statewide education advocacy organization of students, citizens, parents and educators. He has taught world geography, civics, and English literature. He now teaches Engineering Technology at Toombs County High School in Lyons and is the Toombs County Teacher of the Year.

By Matt Jones

In a recent speech to the Marietta Council of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston said that due to a $300 million shortfall in Medicaid, this upcoming session of the General Assembly would be “another year where you’re going to see budget cuts as opposed to adds.”

This means, unfortunately, that it is likely to be another year — the tenth consecutive — in which funding for Georgia’s public schools is less in terms of inflation-adjusted dollars than it was in FY 2002.

While most members of the General Assembly claim to support public education — and may actually believe that they do …

Continue reading Lawmakers ignore their moral and constitutional duty to support public education »

Charter school amendment debate far from over: Next up in the Georgia Legislature, redefining “public” schools.

Here is a guest column by Lee Raudonis, former executive director of the Georgia Republican Party. He also worked for Paul Coverdell in the Georgia Senate, state GOP and U.S. Peace Corps. A former private school teacher, Raudonis is now a communications consultant and writer whose clients include political candidates, public officials and the Professional Association of Georgia Educators. 

By Lee Raudonis

Be forewarned: the recent referendum on Constitutional Amendment 1 related to state-approved charter schools is being viewed by its authors and key supporters as much more than an endorsement for increasing the number of charter schools and — they have promised us — improving academic achievement. They view it as an endorsement for drastically altering public education as most Americans define it.

To better understand what I mean, think about the terms “public housing,” “public hospital,” and “public school.” For most people, the term “public …

Continue reading Charter school amendment debate far from over: Next up in the Georgia Legislature, redefining “public” schools. »

School vouchers: Should there be more quality controls?

Georgia will likely see another legislative attempt at vouchers next session, something that thus far has failed to gain much traction in the General Assembly.

An investigation by the Washington Post will likely revive the debate over whether we should allow parents to receive tax dollars to pay for private schools, especially religious schools.

Most vouchers do not cover the full cost of private school tuition. So, many parents in areas with vouchers send their children to parochial schools, which typically charge less than other private schools.  And, indeed, many of the families receiving vouchers in Washington send their kids to Catholic schools.

But what folks don’t consider is that once vouchers are approved for one religious school, they can’t legally be denied to others. Taxpayers could find their money going to schools run by cults equivalent to the Branch Davidians.

The Post found vouchers going to quite an array of schools.

Here is an excerpt of the piece: …

Continue reading School vouchers: Should there be more quality controls? »