Education Foundation Cites Equal Opportunity Act
From The Foundation For Education Choice ~ Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin today signed into law the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act, which will provide tax credits to individuals and businesses that donate to nonprofits that distribute private-school scholarships to eligible families.
“This legislation is another victory in a year of nationwide progress toward the goal of giving families access to effective educational options for their children,” Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Foundation for Educational Choice, said.
“More parents now will have the power to choose the best education for their children. Most importantly, more children will have the chance to receive an education that prepares them for success in life.”
The Foundation praised the bill's sponsors, Sen. Dan Newberry and Rep. Lee Denney, for their leadership, and thanked the Oklahoma School Choice Coalition and its many partners and supporters for their steadfast commitment to promoting educational choice.
“This program is yet another example of the exciting changes taking place in Oklahoma,” said Bill Price, Chairman of the Oklahoma School Choice Coalition. “It provides an incentive for Oklahomans to invest in the education of our state's children. It empowers parents with the ability to choose the best education for their kids. It rewards schools and teachers. And it gives more children in our state access to effective educational options.”
Under the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act, children in families with incomes up to 300 percent of the income needed to qualify for the federal Free and Reduced-Price Lunch program will be eligible to receive scholarships. Also, scholarship-granting nonprofits must spend a portion of their expenditures for low-income students in an amount equal to or greater than the percentage of low-income students in the state.
Eligible students can receive scholarships worth up to the greater of $5,000 or 80 percent of the average per-pupil expenditures in the school districts where they reside, not to exceed the tuition, fees and transportation costs of attending a private school.
Scholarships for children with special needs may not exceed $25,000. The program is capped at $5 million, of which $3.5 million is dedicated to private-school scholarships with a separate $1.5 million in tax credits available for donations made to nonprofits that distribute “educational improvement grants” to public schools.
This is similar to the successful tax credit scholarship program in Pennsylvania, which has grown to a $41 million program since its inception (with proposals to double the program the following year), serving over 38,000 children in 2010.