In the News: Betsy DeVos Backs $5 Billion in Tax Credits for School Choice

By 03/01/2019

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced a $5 billion program to fund scholarships to private schools and other educational programs through a federal tax credit.

As Erica Green explains:

Ms. DeVos will join Republican lawmakers in championing legislation that would allow states to opt into a program that provides individual and corporate donors dollar-for-dollar tax credits for contributing to scholarship programs that help families pay private-school tuition and other educational expenses. The federal program mirrors those already operating in more than a dozen states, like Arizona and Florida, where money flows to nonprofit organizations that fund private-school vouchers for low-income students. But the program would also allow states the flexibility to fund other programs, like apprenticeship, dual enrollment, after-school and remedial programs.

On the campaign trail, President Trump spoke of a $20 billion federal program to support school choice. In 2017 Education Next published a forum on the wisdom of the idea.

Would expansive federal action on school choice constitute a rare and hard-earned opportunity for proponents, or would it threaten to federalize and politicize what has long been a remarkable bottom-up effort?

Thomas Carroll argued for a federal scholarship tax credit. Neal McCluskey argued against federal intervention.

EdNext editor-in-chief Marty West moderated a debate between Carroll and McCluskey on whether whether the Trump administration should “go big” on school choice by creating a federal tax credit scholarship. And Darla Romfo and Travis Pillow debated the question of whether a federal school choice initiative should require states to opt-in, and set the rules, or if a federal tax credit should allow for K-12 scholarships nationwide.

You can watch the video of the debate here or listen here.

– Education Next

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