Thursday, May 12, 2011

Former OKC public school superintendent favors tax-credit scholarship program, 'without question'

Some members of the Oklahoma Legislature recently voiced opposition to a proposed opportunity-scholarship program on the grounds that the scholarship (up to $5,000) won't be enough to pay tuition at some schools. That's true, it won't. But it will be enough to pay tuition at other schools. As Patrick McGuigan wrote two years ago in Perspective,
Betty Mason, public school educator for decades and former superintendent of the Oklahoma City public school system, is spending her "retirement" years as superintendent of St. John Christian Heritage Academy. The private school sits on the north side of the beautiful campus of St. John Missionary Baptist Church, high on a hill east of N. Kelley Avenue on Oklahoma City's east side. ... Thanks to the generosity of Rev. Jemison [see video clip below] and his parishioners, the tuition at St. John Christian Heritage Academy is kept at $3,000 a year (with a $500 discount for members of the church). But that comparatively affordable amount is far beyond the means of many who live in and around the east side of the city. ...

Mason told me, "I would be very much in favor of [an opportunity-scholarship program]. Many youngsters who could benefit cannot afford it at this time. I have in mind right now a mother who had her child in our school in the fall. She lost her job and just can't afford to keep her child here. That would be exactly the first person we would help with a program like that.

"There are so many out there in our community. These are hard times, with parents losing jobs. We have some come here that we do not even know, seeking a better school for their children.

"I am for a program like that, without question. I know that we could make that work, and make it real for our children. We have 110 students right now. If that program existed, we could help another 90 children get the kind of education we are offering here."

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