Here is something we need to keep our eyes on:
Washington is looking to privatize public education and Marco Rubio appears to be poised to help.
The Trump administration is considering a first-of-its-kind federal tax credit scholarship program that would channel billions of dollars to families from working-class households to enable their children to attend private schools, including religious schools.
The federal tax credit proposal is one of several ideas under review by the White House to fulfill Donald Trump’s campaign promise to promote the expansion of charter schools and vouchers that would allow families of low income to use public money for private school tuition, sources tell POLITICO. During a recent meeting with parents and teachers at the White House, Trump said he wants “every single disadvantaged child in America, no matter what their background or where they live, to have a choice about where they go to school.”
But the federal tax credit proposal already has critics on the left and right. Public school advocates say such a tax credit is a voucher program in disguise and would divert tax dollars from struggling public schools.
“The end result is the same — federal tax dollars going to private schools,” said Sasha Pudelski, assistant director for policy and advocacy at AASA, The School Superintendents Association, who called the program “a backdoor voucher.”
According to this article in Politico, Betsy DeVos and others may be moving towards modeling that federal tax-credit/voucher school choice program after Florida’s current program and our very own Marco Rubio has a bill already written to do it:
Still, many expect the Trump administration could or should push a tax-credit school-choice program — first tested in Florida — if Congress decides to redo the tax code. Sen. Marco Rubio has a bill ready to do just that. Florida school-choice activist John Kirtley, a driving force behind Florida’s voucher and tax-credit programs, said the time to get Congress to act is now.
“A tax reform bill could be a good vehicle, as it wouldn’t take any funds from existing educational programs,” Kirtley said. “I hope that the administration and Congress looks to Florida’s tax credit scholarship program as a model for something at the Federal level.”
The White House did not respond to questions on the tax credit proposal or its status by deadline. Details of how the Trump administration might structure the plan remain unknown. But sources close to the discussions who were not authorized to speak publicly say the program might be capped at a level as high as $20 billion, and resemble legislation first introduced by Republicans Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rep. Todd Rokita of Indiana in 2013, called the Educational Opportunities Act.
That bill, which has never passed either chamber, would have created a federal tax credit of up to $4,500 for individuals and up to $100,000 for corporations that make donations to nonprofit “scholarship-granting organizations,” or SGOs. Those organizations would award the funds to low-income students, who could use the money to attend private schools, including those run by religious groups.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos praised the bill in 2015 when it was reintroduced and she was chair of the school choice advocacy group, American Federation for Children.
Please keep a watchful eye on DeVos, Washington and Rubio. We will need an all out revolt against these attempts to privatize public education.
Please read this excellent memo from Washington Senator Patty Murray, who is the ranking Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, regarding the problems with School Vouchers, “School Choice” and privatization:
Per Senator Murray, “The memo attached lays out the damaging impact of school privatization programs across the country, and a better way forward: instead of focusing on false choice, we must give parents the real choice to have their children attend a high-quality public school in their neighborhood.”
Stay tuned, we must be ready to join Senator Murray in her efforts to find a better way forward.