BRIEF: School Choice in the States October 2014

Delaware – Doran Moreland @Dmoreland9In early October, the Friedman Foundation released its Delaware K-12 and School Choice Survey. With the state’s legislature likely to consider education savings accounts (ESAs) in 2015, Paul DiPerna analyzed the survey’s ESA findings in this blog post. DiPerna also appeared on Delaware’s WDEL radio station to discuss the survey’s implications, which you can listen to here.

Florida – Stephanie Linn @StephanieJLinn 

The Florida Education Association (FEA) filed an amended complaint and added new plaintiffs to a lawsuit challenging the Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts Program, an ESA for students with special needs, and the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program.

Last month a Florida judge dismissed the original FEA lawsuit after finding that the plaintiff did not have legal standing to sue. The amended complaint contends public schools have lost funding because of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, and that the law containing the school choice programs violates a state constitutional requirement that each piece of legislation be limited to a single subject.

There are currently two additional lawsuits pending in Florida:

In September, the FEA, the Florida School Boards Association (FSBA), and other groups filed a lawsuit challenging the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. Plaintiffs claim the program aids religious institutions and violates the state’s constitutional mandate to provide Florida children with free public schools. Denisha Merriweather, a former school choice scholarship recipient, is one of many school choice supporters urging the FEA and FSBA to “drop the suit”:

Earlier this year, Citizens for Strong Schools, Inc. and Fund Education Now amended a five-year-old lawsuit regarding funding inadequacy to include new claims concerning the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program and the McKay Scholarship Program, a voucher for students with special needs. The plaintiffs’ amended complaint contends the school choice programs, among other programs, contributed to inadequate funding in public schools.

Idaho – Michael Chartier @mchart1

The Friedman Foundation released a survey of Idaho private schools analyzing, among other things, the number of open seats in such schools, the average tuition levels in those schools, and their interest in accepting students using tax-credit scholarships, should such a program be approved by the legislature and governor. That brief is available here.

New York – Stephanie Linn @StephanieJLinn 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his intention to work for the passage of the Education Investment Tax Credit. That tax-credit scholarship bill would allow individuals and corporations to receive a dollar-for-dollar credit for donations they make to public school projects or to nonprofit organizations that provide scholarships for children to attend a private or public school of their parents’ choice.

Pennsylvania – Stephanie Linn @StephanieJLinn 

Earlier this month the Pennsylvania legislature passed House Bill 91, which amends the state’s two tax-credit scholarship programs. Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign the legislation soon. Should the governor do so, both programs will be consolidated into one article in the Tax Reform Code. That change will allow corporations to apply for a tax credit through one scholarship program and concurrently apply to receive a tax credit through the second scholarship program, if the preferred tax credit is unavailable. Lawmakers and advocates hope that will facilitate full utilization of the available credits and, in turn, enable more students to have greater educational opportunities through both scholarship programs.

The Education Improvement Tax Credit Program currently serves around 60,000 students in low- to middle-income homes. The newer Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program serves low-income children zoned to attend “low-achieving” public schools.