U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Indiana) is unveiling school choice legislation at the federal level in the coming days. So yeah … go ahead and cue the chorus of wails and moans from left-leaning unions, legacy media and bureaucrats (and from U.S. President Barack Obama, an ardent opponent of choice).
Rokita’s bill – the Educational Opportunities Act – would create a “new federal tax credit for individuals and corporations to help families pay for expanded education opportunities.”
Specifically, it would allow parents of children in grades K-12 to receive a scholarship which could be used toward private school tuition and related academic expenses. It would also permit individuals and corporations to give as much money as they please to qualified non-profit Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) and receive tax credits for those contributions ($4,500 for individuals, up to $100,000 for corporations).
This idea isn’t new. President Ronald Reagan pushed for individual income tax credits in the early 1980s – and you better believe our nation’s free-falling academic achievement levels would be much higher had he been successful.
Of note, in promoting his legislation Rokita cites the success of the “Indiana School Scholarship Tax Credit Program,” a state-level program which provides thousands of low and middle-income families the chance to seek out a better academic outcome for their children.
Sounds like something South Carolina desperately needs …
Unfortunately, our state’s status quo army of liberal administrators, bureaucrats, politicians, union leaders and editorial writers continue to reject even the most modest choice initiatives … even as our taxpayers’ ever-escalating investment in government-run schools continues to produce diminishing returns.
For shame …
Just last week, a new study from the Palmetto Policy Forum revealed that low-income students in Florida are outperforming all South Carolina students on nationally recognized standardized tests – the latest evidence of the ongoing failure of our state’s “one size fails all” education monopoly.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: At the federal, state and local level, policymakers must put the academic needs of individual children ahead of the financial needs of the unwieldy, ineffective bureaucracies which claim to be serving them (but aren’t).
The best way to do that? Unleash the power of the marketplace – as successful programs in Wisconsin, Florida, Indiana and numerous other states have demonstrated.
Rokita’s legislation is sound public policy, and we encourage every member of the South Carolina congressional delegation to sign on as sponsors.