All posts tagged tax credit

HIGHLIGHTING HAPPINESS: These sixth-graders could run the world

New Study Finds America’s School Voucher Programs Have Saved Billions

Do-Over or Double Down? Working Toward a New K-12 Accountability Ecosystem

AZ Voter Guide


Poll: Support for school choice growing among Republicans


Annual Survey Shows Surge In Support For Educational Choice

Who Goes to Private School?

No. 1 state for school choice? Arizona!


More than 2,000 parents, students, teachers, policymakers and school choice supporters this morning gathered at the state Capitol to celebrate the opportunities and excellent educational options available to Arizona families. Our state’s leaders, from Sen. John McCain to Gov. Doug Ducey, are talking about the role school choice has played in moving Arizona’s education system forward.

According to the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Leaders and Laggards report, Arizona has one of the most robust school choice environments in the country. Not only do we have strong public charter laws, but our district schools are open to all students thanks to Arizona’s open enrollment policy. Arizona is a national leader for public district school choice, earning the bragging right of being the first in the country to include a school boards association as a National School Choice Week partner. Gov. Ducey in his comments today rightly had high praise for our friend Janice Palmer for her excellent work at the Arizona School Boards Association.

As a parent, I’ve taken full advantage of these policies, shopping both district and charter schools to find the best fit for each of our three girls.

As a result, our state is currently home to three of the top 10 high schools in the country: BASIS Scottsdale and BASIS Oro Valley, which are public charters, and University High School in Tucson, which is a magnet school. While scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress (“NAEP,” known also as the “Nation’s Report Card”) sunk or remained stagnant, Arizona’s improved, and we were among the top states in the nation in closing the achievement gap. And the icing on the cake? If Arizona’s charter school students were their own state, they would have performed on par with the top-scoring Massachusetts. Kudos to Dr. Matt Ladner for digging into the data to uncover this critical nugget.

And our robust charter sector doesn’t deliver high quality results in just the high-income zip codes. Kim Chayka’s Academies of Math and Science is proving each day that we can earn great results regardless of neighborhood demographics. AMS is our state’s answer to KIPP.

While a combination of robust choice and innovative options means that an excellent education is a reality for many Arizona families, it is still not the case for enough of Arizona’s families. Too many students are stuck on long waiting lists. I consider students who are currently enrolled at a D or F-level school to also be on a “waiting list,” too.

Through our work with A for Arizona, led by former state superintendent Lisa Graham Keegan, who Gov. Ducey called one of “the most hard-working and influential school choice champions on the planet,” and Dr. Matt Ladner, whom I rank as the top architect in the country when it comes to school choice design, we have a set of proposals that will provide even more choice and more quality to our system.

Here’s what we need now at the ballot and legislatively to expand quality choice:

  • Voter ratification of Proposition 123. Voters must pass this plan to inject $3.5 billion over 10 years of new dollars into all public schools.
  • At the legislative level, we already know what we want from our schools: students who graduate ready for college and the job market. We should use any available state resources to reward schools who are consistently getting this job done.
  • That starts with restoration of CTE funding. These programs service more than 98,000 students statewide and see graduation rates of 98 percent.
  • For those on the academic track, we know that college success rates increase significantly for those who take and pass AP-type exams. The Governor’s budget contains a truly big idea here. Rewarding schools that can prepare students to pass these exams will improve college success and save families millions of dollars as kids reduce the number of credits necessary for a college degree.
  • Reduce the cost of capital. Every dollar spent on interest is a dollar absent from a teacher’s pocket. The Governor has a plan to help schools that want to grow and access cheaper money, thus freeing up dollars to hire more quality teachers, increase the size of their school, or build a new building. This is important to clearing kids from waiting lists.
  • Compensate those schools providing dramatically more seat time in K-8 with a focus on low-income schools that prove academic success. Perhaps the most important takeaway from working with our A for Arizona schools has been that schools that are closing the achievement gap in a significant way are doing it by giving the state an average of five additional weeks of free time. This is noble, but not sustainable. To get these schools to scale, we should compensate these extraordinary teachers and leaders for the extra quality time-on-task they provide.
  • Along those same lines, we should incentivize the growth of our highest performing schools by offering school recognition bonuses to schools that get to or stay at the “A” level.
  • Implement a common application system for all Arizona public schools. Cities like New Orleans, Washington, DC and New York City have adopted common application systems to make it easier for parents to exercise their choice.
  • And finally, Uberize our school transportation system. As New Orleans education reform leader Neerav Kingsland puts it, “Choice isn’t choice without a ride.”

While we will continue to push for policies to guarantee every Arizona family access to a high-quality choice, today is a day to celebrate the extraordinary gains we’ve made. So, throw on your yellow scarves and break out your National School Choice Week dance moves, here comes Arizona

Martin Luther King III makes case for tax-credit scholarships

By Jessica Bakeman 8:19 a.m. | Jan. 18, 2016

TALLAHASSEE—Martin Luther King Jr. would have supported tax-credit funded scholarships that allow needy children to attend private schools. At least, his son thinks so.

“I would assume my father would support anything that lifted up and created opportunities for ‘the least of these,’” Martin Luther King III told POLITICO Florida during a recent phone interview, quoting the Bible. “I don’t think he would get caught up in the politics of it.”

The younger King, though, has waded into the complicated racial, religious and partisan politics of the controversial voucher-like program. On Tuesday, a day after the national holiday honoring his father, King will headline a Tallahassee rally promoting the program, putting himself at odds with Florida’s statewide teachers’ union as well as the state’s chapter of the NAACP.

With black and Hispanic religious leaders from around the state, King will call on the Florida Education Association to drop its lawsuit challenging the program, through which corporations get a 100 percent tax credit for donations to organizations that grant scholarships to low-income students.

National black and Hispanic education reform advocacy groups, as well as Florida-based coalitions of minority clergy, have denounced the union’s efforts to halt the scholarships. They argue the program provides opportunities for high-quality education to predominantly minority children who wouldn’t get it otherwise.

Prominent black religious leaders in the state, including those who run schools that benefit from the scholarship program, will also speak at the rally. Rev. R.B. Holmes of Tallahassee and Bishop Victor Curry of Miami, who is also former president of the Miami Dade chapter of the NAACP, will join King and other advocates at the intersection of Duval and Madison streets, near the east side of the Capitol, at 11:30 a.m.

King has been a national advocate for tax-credit scholarships since the late 1990s. But he was compelled to join the fight in Florida because he has worked with religious leaders in the state, he said.

He stressed that the debate shouldn’t be political.

He identifies as a Democrat but sometimes agrees with Republicans on certain issues, he said. While Republicans championed Florida’s voucher programs, Democrats have supported similar policies elsewhere. King specifically referenced a legislative fight over tax-credit scholarships in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has been a proponent.

“It is partisan, but it shouldn’t be. That’s part of the problem,” he said. “According to who brings an issue to the table, people will get up and support it. It shouldn’t be based on that. It should be based on whether the kids are performing or not.

“This is not the way that it works, because politics is in everything, but if we could get the politics out of it and stop looking at the politics of who is this going to hurt or help and look at what is in the best interest of kids and families, I think these issues can be addressed,” King said.

King said he disagrees with the leaders of Florida’s NAACP chapter, who oppose the scholarship program.

Adora Obi Nweze, president of the state’s NAACP chapter, said earlier this month the group objects to the fact that not all of Florida’s students have access to the opportunity.

“All children cannot go to a charter school, or they can’t have a voucher, so you’re picking and choosing,” Nweze said. “And that is a policy we can’t support.”

King said the argument “may have some merit,” but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

“A significant number of those children happen to be children who are of color, meaning blacks, Latinos and Hispanics,” he said. “It is open to all children, but many of them are in poor families and, generally, poor families do not have the same options that others might have in our society. I think sometimes we have to balance out the equation. While this might not be available, historically, to someone who is wealthy, that person doesn’t need this kind of situation because they already have options because of their status in life.”

He said there is a “natural marriage” between the NAACP and unions, and he suspects that’s why the organization has supported FEA’s lawsuit.

The union has argued the program is unconstitutional, contending it creates a parallel and inferior system of public education, siphons resources from the traditional public schools that serve the most disadvantaged students and violates the separation of church and state.

“We’re concerned about making sure that everybody has access to a high-quality free public schools,” FEA president Joanne McCall said during a recent interview. “People can tell me all day to drop the suit, but it’s the hands of the court at this point. If they’re telling me to drop the suit, they might be a little worried about it.”

King said he supports public education and doesn’t believe his advocacy for tax-credit scholarships negates that. He wants “options” for children, he said, adding that he avoids the politicized term, “choice.”

“My view is, there is room for both,” he said. “It’s not an either-or. It should never have been framed that way. The question is, what is the best thing for the kids of our nation?

“We certainly have public schools that some will go to and do well, but we also have other options,” he said. “Some people need a targeted kind of learning. They need a different approach, like charter schools. There are virtual classrooms that some will do well in. The reality is, if there are no options, if there is just one particular standard, then someone is going to fall through the cracks, as we’ve seen.”

At one point, King likened students at traditional public schools to “a herd of cattle, running through on one pathway.”

Without educational innovation, the U.S. will struggle to compete globally, he argued.

“If our education system does not continue to improve and be enhanced and be innovative and almost be revolutionary, then we will continue to lose our place in the world,” he said.

“One of the things my dad and mom worked on throughout their lives was the eradication of poverty,” he said. “Although we have made strides as a nation, the issue is at epidemic levels now. [We need to] address this issue, starting with our children in kindergarten.”

Original Source

Poll finds education ranks among highest priority with Arizona voters

By Corbin Carson | January 7, 2016 @ 7:00 pm

PHOENIX — A recent poll found that the topic of education ranks among one of the highest priorities with Arizona Voters, according to the non-profit organization Expect More Arizona.

Expect More Arizona President and CEO Pearl Chang Esau said education ranked higher among the 600 surveyed state voters than the economy or immigration.

“In the past, when we have polled Arizona’s likely voters, education has typically been either No. 2 or No. 3 on the list, ranking below other things like the economy and immigration,” she said.

Education came in at 41 percent with immigration/border security at 12 percent and the economy at 10 percent. Chang Esau said the survey also asked voters about the most important issues within the topic of education.

“We also asked them what they thought were the top two issues within education, and the No. 1 issue was the need for increasing education funding,” she said. “The No. 2 issue, which ranked high across all political parties, was increasing teacher pay.”

Chang Esau said 87 percent of Arizonans strongly believe funding for Career and Technical Education programs is an important priority, she said. Those programs help students receive real-world training while preparing them for the future.

“If you just look at the data for Career and Technical Education programs, they’re graduating students at far greater rates than our state average,” she said. “In fact, in the mid-90 (percent).”

“So what we’re seeing is that voters in Arizona believe that education is important for everybody’s quality of life,” Esau said.

The survey also found 85 percent of voters support efforts to close the achievement gap, 92 percent want to focus on ensuring students have access to “great” education officials and 81 percent thing schools should have additional funding to serve low-income students.