BRIEF: School Choice in the States May 2015

DelawareDoran Moreland @Dmoreland9

An education savings account (ESA) bill for students with special needs will soon be introduced in Delaware. The bill is expected to have bipartisan support. Delaware’s legislative session ends June 30.

NevadaMichael Chartier @mchart1

A universal ESA bill, SB 302, was passed by the legislature at the end of May. Just yesterday, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the bill, enacting the state’s second school choice program this session. Those groundbreaking ESAs will be open to all public school students, making it the first ESA program of its kind. Learn more about the bill’s journey and program details here.

New YorkBrittany Corona @BrittanyLCorona

Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced the Parental Choice in Education Act on May 17. The bill would create a tax-credit scholarship program for low- to middle-income students. The bill, which was also proposed in the Senate as S. 1976, includes a total tax credit cap of $150 million. The individual credit will be 75 percent of the taxpayer contribution, capped at one million dollars. Eligible students may use the scholarships to attend private schools, to attend public schools outside of their district, and to pay for public school programs and supplies. The Assembly is currently debating the bill, and if passed, it will be New York’s first private school choice program.

PennsylvaniaBrittany Corona @BrittanyLCorona

A bill was introduced on May 6 in the Pennsylvania House to increase funding for the state’s two successful tax-credit scholarships. The measure would take the Educational Improvement Tax Credit from $100 million to $170 million and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit from $50 million to $80 million. Speaker Turzai is leading the effort. Both programs provide tax credits worth up to 75 percent of contribution to corporations who donate to scholarship granting organizations, which give scholarships to students from “low-performing” schools or to students from low-income households. Last year, nearly 40,000 students used tax-credit scholarships in Pennsylvania.

Rhode IslandMichael Chartier @mchart1

A sliding scale ESA, HB 5790, received a hearing in the Rhode Island House Finance Committee. Stay tuned for more on this bill’s progress by following us on Twitter @edchoice.

TennesseeBrittany Corona @BrittanyLCorona

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed the Individualized Education Act on May 19, enacting the nation’s fourth ESA program! The program gives parents of children with certain disabilities the power to fully customize their child’s education with a portion of their child’s share of state per-pupil funding. Allowable uses include, but are not limited to, private school tuition, text books, curricula, educational therapies, Advanced Placement courses, college courses, and online learning. More than 18,000 Tennessee students will be eligible for the program in its first year (2015-16).

VirginiaBrittany Corona @BrittanyLCorona

Dr. Jill A. Turgeon, vice chair of the Loudoun County School Board in Virginia, contributed a blog post to the Friedman Foundation this month entitled, “‘We Exist’: One Public School Teacher and Board Member’s Journey Advocating for School Choice.” She argues that not only is it possible to work in public education as a teacher and administrator while supporting parental choice in education—it is encouraged. Check out the full story on our blog here.