Wednesday, June 27, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS, IN—New Hampshire and Virginia became the latest states to offer private school choice, with both enacting tax-credit scholarship programs today. In Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the act into law. In New Hampshire, the legislature adopted the plan by overriding Gov. John Lynch’s veto.
Under tax-credit scholarship programs, government provides tax credits to individuals and corporations that donate to nonprofits, which, in turn, distribute private school scholarships. Virginia and New Hampshire now join Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island as states that offer such programs.
“Virginia’s and New Hampshire’s leaders deserve a lot of credit, but the real victors are underserved children,” Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, said. “This is a step in the right direction for both states, and we hope it is but the first step toward universal school choice for all families.”
The New Hampshire and Virginia programs both set eligibility at 300 percent of the federal poverty level (or $69,150 for a family of four). New Hampshire’s scholarships cannot exceed $2,500 on average, whereas Virginia’s will be worth the amount the state pays per child, which is different in every school division.
“The successes achieved in Virginia and New Hampshire should be a lesson for other states looking to adopt school choice,” Enlow said. “It takes time before the educating and advocacy done by school choice supporters lead to the enactment of programs. But, even then, the work doesn’t stop.”
Indeed, local organizations in Virginia and New Hampshire now plan to raise funds for scholarship-granting nonprofits and inform parents as to whether their children are eligible.
“This has been a decades-long journey, but it doesn’t end now,” Chris Braunlich, vice president of Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson Institute, said. “It is critical that we have this program but that we have one that actually works, provides better opportunities for children, and incentivizes the private sector to weigh in and help. We’re going to have to ramp up quickly and in a way that will be effective.”
That sentiment was echoed by Charlie Arlinghaus who, as head of the Josiah Bartlett Center, worked to get New Hampshire’s tax-credit scholarship program passed.
“This is a modest step for the state, but it will make a huge difference in the lives of many children,” Arlinghaus said. “Our task going forward is to make sure people know about the opportunities now available to them.”
More information on tax-credit scholarships is available at edchoice.org/SchoolChoicePrograms.
About the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, solely dedicated to advancing Milton and Rose D. Friedman’s vision of school choice for all children. The Foundation promotes school choice as the most effective and equitable way to improve the quality of K-12 education in America.
Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice