NSBA opposes Trump administration proposal

A move by the Trump administration to provide federal tax credits to send students to private schools was criticized Thursday by the National School Boards Association. 

In a news release, NSBA said the proposal would divert investment away from public schools, fails to recognize the many choices provided students in the public school system and would help fund private schools that aren’t required to have the same guaranteed rights for students and parents as public schools.  

“School board officials support choice and employ a lot of creative ways to provide it, but sending tax dollars to schools that lack local supervision is not an appropriate use of taxpayer funds,” said NSBA, which represents more than 90,000 local school board members across the nation, including Kansas. 

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos unveiled the plan to provide $5 billion a year in federal tax credits for donations made to groups offering scholarships for private schools, apprenticeships and other educational programs. 

“What’s missing in education today is at the core of what makes America truly great: freedom,” DeVos said. “Kids should be free to learn where and how it works for them.” 

Legislation for the tax credits is being introduced by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala. The proposal will face a difficult time in the House, where Democrats gained a majority in the November midterm elections. 

Education officials crafted the plan in an attempt to make school choice more politically appealing, after previous initiatives failed to take hold. Congress rejected DeVos’ efforts to boost funding for charter schools and to create federal vouchers to attend private schools. 

Opponents of charter schools and vouchers argue that they steer money away from public schools. But DeVos contends the proposal would spark new funding that could be used for a range of education options including public or private schools. 

Eighteen states, including Kansas, offer their own state scholarship tax credits.  

In Kansas, the law grants state tax credits to individuals and businesses that make donations for scholarships that allow certain low-income students to attend private schools. 

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