Trump touts tax credits for private school scholarships

President Donald Trump on Tuesday called on Congress to pass legislation he said would allow disadvantaged students “to choose public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them.”

Trump noted the example of a young woman from Florida who, after having failed third-grade twice, was able to graduate high school by attending a private school with the help of a tax credit scholarship program.

In his speech to Congress, Trump didn’t provide details of what he would like to see in legislation, but under tax credit programs, corporations get tax credits if they contribute to organizations that provide scholarships to private and religious schools.

The president plans to visit a Catholic school in Orlando on Thursday to push school choice. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a strong advocate for private school vouchers, has praised the Florida tax credit program.

Some congressional observers have said a federal tax credit scholarship program could be part of a comprehensive tax reform bill and approved through the “reconciliation” process where only 51 votes would be needed in the Senate instead of the usual 60 votes to cut off debate.

In Kansas, a program granting tax credits for corporate contributions to private school scholarships was included in a 2014 school finance bill.

KASB opposes this program, in part, because the law does not require schools receiving the scholarship funds to accept all students, to participate in state assessments or report any academic performance of the student.

In KASB’s “Putting Students First,” school finance recommendation, KASB states: “Many proposals with the stated goal of allowing all students a “choice” of school fail for the following reasons. First, they allow schools to determine which students to enroll and retain, which means the school is making the choice, not the student or family. Second, the public funding provided may not cover the cost of attendance, transportation or other requirements. Third, there is no requirement that alternative schools will operate where all students can attend them. Fourth, these programs may not require state accreditation, student testing, and financial or academic auditing so there is little or no accountability for student results or transparency for public funds. There is also no clear evidence from two decades of programs in other states that students in “non-traditional” schools, including private schools supported by public programs such as vouchers or tax credits, or charter schools independent from local school boards, provide any better academic or financial results. At best, the evidence is inconclusive.”

Share this post