Tuition tax credits now!
By Dr. Terry Stoops
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According to the Alliance
for School Choice, just over 123,500 students receive benefits from nine
scholarship tax credit programs in seven states. In most of these states,
social justice Democrats enthusiastically supported proposed tax credit
programs. For these legislators and community activists, the quality of
schooling for poor and minority children was much more important than the provider
of that education. I suppose some liberals have more courage than others.
- The John Locke
Foundation is sponsoring a Citizen's Constitutional Workshop on Saturday,
February 19 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Trinity Free Will Baptist Church
Auditorium in La Grange, NC. Historian Dr. Troy Kickler and political science
expert Dr. Michael Sanera will discuss "What the Founders and the State
Ratification Conventions Can Teach Us Today." The cost is $7.00 per
participant, lunch included. Pre-registration is strongly suggested. For more
information or to sign up for the event, visit the Events section of the John Locke
- The North Carolina History Project would like educators and
homeschool parents to submit lesson plans suitable for middle and high school
courses in North Carolina history. Please provide links to NC History Project
encyclopedia articles and other primary and secondary source material, if
possible. Go to http://www.northcarolinahistory.org/edu_corner
for further information.
- Become a member of JLF's Freedom Clubs! We have seven
regional clubs covering every part of North Carolina, so there is one near you
and your like-minded conservative friends. For more information, visit http://www.johnlocke.org/support.
Last week, a News & Observer
against House Bill 41: Tax Fairness in Education. Representative Paul Stam's
bill would offer a $2,500 refundable tax credit to private and home school
families who have a yearly taxable income of less than $100,000 and meet other
The editors of the N&O have a
strong attachment to the status quo. (Like nihilism, defending
the status quo must be exhausting.) This fixation often translates into
complaints about miserly politicians and their failure to "invest"
adequately in public schools. Similarly, they contend that tax credits,vouchers,
choice generally are literal and philosophical divestment in our public
Nevertheless, these kinds of simplistic formulations, as well as the finance
metaphors that inform them, lead to historically ignorant claims like
"private means parents pay to send their children to schools of their
choosing; public means a taxpayer-funded system." Historically,
"public" and "private" schooling had little to do with who
paid the bill. Nineteenth-century education reformers had a notion of
"public" schools, but it had little in common with the present-day
meaning on the idea. As historian Michael Katz noted, "[I]n the early
republican period, 'public' implied the performance of broad social functions
and the service of a large, heterogenous, nonexclusive clientele rather than
control and ownership by the community or state." (Class,
Bureaucracy, and Schools: The Illusion of Educational Change in America, p. 23.)
Of course, I do not expect the editors of the N&O to appreciate, or even acknowledge, the history of
topics addressed in their editorials. Perhaps I suffer from the soft bigotry of
low expectations. But I would hope that they recognize that "private"
means parents, who are also taxpayers, pay twice -- tuition and fees to send
their children to schools of their choosing and taxes to send other kids to school. In this way,
private and home school parents support two educational systems simultaneously.
That is quite a burden on the thousands of middle-class families who make great
sacrifices to keep their children in a moderately priced private school.
Another N&O sound bite is
equally troublesome. The editors report, "The principle behind public
education in North Carolina is to provide all families with an equal
opportunity under the state constitution for a sound basic education." The
concept of a "sound basic education" refers to the famous Leandro court decision, which declared that "Every
child in N.C. has the constitutional right to an equal opportunity to receive a
sound basic education." The court defined a sound basic education as
having sufficient skills, abilities, and knowledge to thrive in post-graduate
life. Nothing in the definition of a sound basic education specifies how the
state should meet the requirement.
Moreover, sound the irony alert when N&O editors write, "And through charter schools,
the state already funds a choice within the public education system for those
parents who prefer schools that are more experimental in their curricula and
teaching methods." Despite long waiting lists and strong demand for
charters, the N&O incessantly
attacks North Carolina's charter school community, so it is unbelievable to
hear them speak about charters in such positive terms. If they had the choice, the parents would have no choices at
Of course, N&O editors
acknowledge savings from the tax credit, but, for them, "the net savings
wouldn't be so large that it would be worth blurring the lines between public
and private schools and encouraging more families to make the switch." In
this way, it is not about costs and benefits but some imaginary line between
public and private, a line that our pre-kindergarten programs and universities
cross regularly by diverting public money to private institutions.
Most people think that Snake Eyes is
the coolest member of the G.I. Joe team, but I have always been a Snow Job man.
Facts and Stats
Scholarship Tax Credit Programs
in the United States, 2010-11 School Year
Arizona (three programs)
(1) Individual School Tuition, Organization
(2) Corporate School Tuition, Organization Tax
(3) Lexie's Law [Corporate scholarship tax
credit program for disabled students and foster students]
Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship Program
Georgia Scholarship Tax Credit
Corporate & Individual Scholarship Tax
School Tuition, Organization Tax Credit
Educational Improvement Tax Credit
Corporate Scholarship Tax Credit
Source: Alliance for School
Choice, "Hope for America's Children: School Choice Yearbook
2010-11," February 2011, p. 12.
I would like to invite all readers to
submit announcements, as well as their personal insights, anecdotes, concerns,
and observations about the state of education in North Carolina. I will publish
selected submissions in future editions of the newsletter. Anonymity will be
honored. For additional information or to send a submission, email Terry at email@example.com.
Education Acronym of the Week
SGO -- Scholarship Granting Organization
Quote of the Week
"A single mother in Newark, working two jobs to
keep a roof over her child's head, should have no less of an ability to make
the [same] choice [as me]. Her child's life is no less precious than ours. Her
child's future is no less promising than ours."
-- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
Click here for the Education
Saturday, Feb. 19th, 2011 at 10:00am-4:00pm
A Citizens' Constitutional Workshop in La Grange, NC
with presenters Dr. Troy Kickler & Dr. Michael Sanera
What the Founders and the State Ratification Conventions Can Teach Us Today
Saturday, Feb. 26th, 2011 at 6:00 p.m.
21st Anniversary Dinner
with our special guest George Will
SOLD OUT! -- The John Locke Foundation's 21st Anniversary Dinner, featuring columnist George Will
Thanks to our sponsors
Saturday, Mar. 19th, 2011 at 11:00am- 4:30pm
A Citizens' Constitutional Workshop in Asheville, NC
with presenters Dr. Troy Kickler & Dr. Michael Sanera
What the Founders and the State Ratification Conventions
Can Teach Us Today