Friday, January 21, 2011

For Pennsylvania-style choice

In a post yesterday ('Speaker to file choice bill'), I noted that The Oklahoman reported that Oklahoma House Speaker Kris Steele said he would file a bill "based on a Pennsylvania measure. It allows individuals and corporations to donate to a scholarship-granting organization in return for a tax credit; children in any school district could apply for the scholarship to help pay the cost of attending the school of their choice or to help pay tutoring costs."

Needless to say, I was quite pleased that the Speaker would file a Pennsylvania-style choice bill. The Pennsylvania school choice program provides a tax credit for contributions to scholarship organizations which give private school scholarships. It also provides a tax credit for Educational Improvement Organizations (EIOs) which support innovative programs in public schools, but that portion was added in the sausage-making process merely to secure passage. It's the tail, not the dog, and no one in the school-choice movement is confused about which is which.

Unfortunately, Oklahoma HB 2133 is all about the government-run schools, with nothing for private schools. I'm not sure the bill merits opposition, but it's certainly nothing to get excited about. Still, I think it's too early to give up on it. The Speaker believes some children should have options to attend private schools, and thanks in part to his leadership those children now have those options. So I'm hopeful HB 2133 can be amended to look more like Sen. Dan Newberry's SB 969, which truly is a Pennsylvania-style school choice bill.

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