BRIEF: School Choice in the States December 2013

Alabama – Stephanie Linn @StephanieJLinn

Alabama will likely hit the $25 million cap for corporate and individual donations for the new tax-credit scholarship program. As of December 20, Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) have received $23.8 million in actual or indicated donations. If the cap is reached, SGOs could give out scholarships worth $8,800 to around 2,700 students in one year.

As for Alabama’s Refundable Tax-Credit program, families of 52 students have indicated to Alabama’s Department of Education that they will file for a tax credit or rebate to transfer their child out of a failing public school and into a private school. Families of 719 students have indicated they will file to transfer their child out of a failing public school and into a non-failing public school. Parents must be able to prove that they have incurred a cost to transfer their child into the school of their choice. The maximum credit or rebate allowable is around $3,500.

Arizona Robbie Rhinesmith @rrhinesmith85

State Superintendent John Huppenthal filed a response with the Arizona Supreme Court opponents of Arizona’s education savings account (ESA) program. Those opponents, including the Arizona Education Association and the Arizona School Boards Association, among others, are appealing an earlier unanimous decision by the Arizona Court of Appeals that ESAs do not violate any provision of the Arizona Constitution. The state Supreme Court has not yet decided whether it will review the lower court ruling.

North Carolina Robbie Rhinesmith @rrhinesmith85

On December 11, the North Carolina Association of Educators (the state’s largest teachers’ union) and the North Carolina Justice center filed a challenge to the state’s new Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), contending the program violates state constitutional provisions that restrict how money can be spent on schools. The OSP allows families who qualify for the federal Free and Reduced-Price Lunch program to receive up to $4,200 to pay tuition at a school of their choice. No response has been filed by the state.

Rhode Island – Michael Chartier @mchart1

The Friedman Foundation sponsored a school choice boot camp in conjunction with the Rhode Island Families for School Choice and the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity. The Foundation brought in a variety of speakers to talk about everything from coalition development to school choice messaging. More than 50 people came out to ask questions and learn more about the future of school choice in the Ocean State.