Good News Tucson Magazine's Blog

The Premiere Christian Magazine for Southern Arizona

Why Support School Choice?

School choice means different things to different people.  At the Arizona School Tuition Organizations Association – or ASTOA for short – school choice means that parents have an opportunity to decide the best path for their child’s education – public or private. School choices are made every day all over this country.  In years past those choices were often restricted to families who could afford to move into the school district of their choice – or, pay for private education.  The “School Choice” movement is  expanding opportunities to a broader spectrum of our citizens. And raising standardized test scores across the country.

An important point to note is that school choice is growing nationwide.  It all began with one state, Wisconsin, with a voucher program in 1990 … to one state, Arizona, with a tax credit scholarship program in 1998.  Today there are eleven states with active school choice scholarship or voucher programs and 44 states have introduced school choice Bills in the 2007-2008 Legislative Session.  Support for school choice crosses party lines and is strongly supported by public school teachers (Education Next/Harvard University poll). Educators, whether public or private, know better than most that there is room for… no, a need for a variety of options – and unity in goal.  The goal is excellence in education for our children and a system of choices for parents.

Parents know which educational program is best suited for their children. They can tell you that there is no such thing as “one size fits all.” Two public policies that address the needs of our community at large are voucher programs and scholarship tax credit programs. Contrary to recently reported figures, these programs have saved Arizona taxpayers a net $18 million dollars between 1999 and 2006 (Florida office of Government Accountability, report No. 08-68, December 2008, and others). Arizona has two different programs, the individual tax credit program and a corporate tax credit program for Arizona C-Corporations.

The corporate program is expressly  for children switching from a public to private school, or for children who are either displaced or disabled. In Arizona, tax-paying citizens have the opportunity to  actively participate  in the process by thoughtfully directing a portion of their state tax dollars to a recognized School Tuition Organization (STO). Married, filing jointly, may contribute up to $1000 annually, and single filers may direct up to $500 per year.  Tax payers can contribute to the STO of their choice – however, not all STOs work with corporate donations. Details about these programs in Tucson can be attained by calling the Catholic Tuition Support Organization at 838-2571 or the Institute for Better Education at 512-5438.

A report by the Arizona School Tuition Organization Association (School Choice Yearbook) found that the average corporate tax credit scholarship recipients came from families with annual incomes of $28,458 in the 2006-07 school year, and $35,533 in the 2007-08 school year.  The heart of the matter is that children deserve an academic  chance and school choice initiatives provide that chance. School choice is founded upon the premise that “it really is all about the kids.”  The Department of Revenue has a list of the 50 eligible STOs on their web site.  Check it out.  Be part of the school solution … it is the right “choice” to make.

Charlotte E. Beecher
Executive Director
Institute for Better Education

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February 22, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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