On behalf of the Orthodox Union, I want to commend Governor Bryant for including a school choice proposal in the education reforms he unveiled on November 30th. The Governor’s reform package included a $10 million tax credit scholarship program for low income students attending low-performing schools. It would operate much like Pennsylvania’s and Florida’s highly successful tax credit programs, with corporations donating to scholarship organizations, who in turn distribute scholarships to needy students.
In particular, the OU thanks Gov. Bryant for acknowledging that the best education option for some students may be in private schools. Indeed, the governor could have limited his proposal to public school choice: inter-district enrollment and charter schools for example. By including a tax credit program in his proposal Gov Bryant has put private school choice on the agenda in a big way.
There is only one detail about his proposal that concerns the OU, and that is the transfer requirement. Under the governor’s proposal, a student must transfer from a low-performing public school in order to eligible for a scholarship. As Gov. Bryant works out the details of his proposal in the coming legislative session, the OU urges him to exempt students entering Kindergarten from this transfer requirement – provided the student was slated to attend a low-performing school.
Florida’s tax credit program contains a similar exemption for students entering Kindergarten, and the OU firmly believes that no student should be forced to “try out” a failing school before finding the education setting best for them.
The OU congratulates Gov. Bryant for championing school choice, and offers its full support for his education reform efforts in the coming year.
Director of State Political Affairs