2001 UL OpEd from the Cato Institute: Education Tax Credits Can Give NH Parents and Students More Choice

posted Dec 25, 2011, 8:14 AM by Bill Duncan   [ updated Jan 5, 2012, 11:32 AM ]

Education Tax Credits Can Give NH Parents and Students More Choice

by Darcy Ann Olsen and Dan Lips

President Bush and congressional Democrats believe more spending will resuscitate America's ailing education system. They plan to raise federal spending in New Hampshire to $ 141 million per year. But all the money in the world won't do the one thing that matters most in education: putting parents in charge.

A new study by the Cato Institute suggests that a federal education tax credit may help do that.

An education tax credit works like this. First, parents who send their children to private school could lower their tax bill by $500 for the cost of private school tuition. Second, any taxpayer could take a $ 500 tax credit for donations to non-profit scholarship organizations that award tuition scholarships to low-income children. When combined, the two components of the tax credit will enable millions of students to attend better schools.

It's time to give parents this freedom. For 30 years, education reforms have come and gone. Whether smaller classes, new standards, higher teacher salaries, more technology or more preschool or after-school programs, each has been tried and each has failed to reverse the decline in student achievement. The effect of choice is clear and immediate. Children in bad schools today can enroll in better schools tomorrow.

Evidence from choice programs shows clear benefits to children. Harvard University researchers evaluated private scholarship programs in Dayton, New York and Washington, D.C., and found that children able to enroll in private schools scored higher on standardized tests than those who stayed in public schools. Education researcher Jay Greene found similar benefits to students in a private scholarship program in Charlotte, N.C. and reported, "The consistency of the results across all four cities is impressive, as is the size of the gain."

...get the rest at the UL site.

This article appeared in The Union Leader on April 26, 2001.