The fact that Kentucky ranks near the bottom nationally in education achievement among low-income students should be of grave concern to our educators and to all citizens whose hard-earned taxes support our schools.
As parents and concerned citizens, we cannot let our children continue to be put in this category. It’s totally unacceptable, unfortunate and further proof that more must be done to erase this poor ranking by giving low-income students more options when it comes to school choice.
One obstacle that these low-income children face is the Kentucky Education Association, the teachers’ union that has opposed school-choice options that could benefit low-income kids trapped in underperforming schools.
Who are they to say low-income kids can’t go to charter, private or parochial schools that offer scholarship tax credits if they so choose?
All kids, regardless of their parents’ financial background, deserve to have the best education possible in our state.
That is why we support legislation to give tax credits to people or businesses donating to scholarship funds for special-needs children or those in low-income homes to attend private schools.
School-choice supporters rallied at Kentucky’s Capitol last week to try to build momentum for the proposal.
State Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said the scholarship tax credits would give more children from low- and middle-income homes the option to attend schools that best fit their needs – an option that students from wealthier families already enjoy.
“Scholarship tax credits will unlock the world of opportunities for kids who currently find themselves on the outside of the best schools looking in,” Alvarado said.
Cameron said a family’s economic status shouldn’t stand in the way of parents choosing the best educational opportunities for their children – whether it’s public, private, parochial or home schools.
“There shouldn’t be a Republican or Democratic designation attached to educational opportunities here in the commonwealth of Kentucky,” Cameron said. “For the sake of our children, we must all embrace the idea that regardless of background, beliefs, wealth or race, Kentucky children should have access to an education that meets their needs.”
Alvarado and Cameron are on target on this particular issue. All of our children, not just some, deserve the best education possible. Many people across the state would agree that all of our children deserve the best education possible.
But listening to the KEA, one wouldn’t think so.
“Let’s call scholarship tax credits what they really are: private-school vouchers and tax shelters for the wealthy that take money away from public school students across the commonwealth,” KEA President Eddie Campbell said in a statement.
Campbell referred to the scholarship tax credits as “tax loopholes” because he believes it would reduce tax revenue for schools. By this logic, you could argue that any of the numerous deductions allowed under federal and state tax codes reduce funding available for public schools. This is a weak argument.
Campbell seems to be offended that wealthy people and businesses would benefit from tax credits for those contributions. He forgets that successful businesses and upper-income individuals contribute property and income taxes to support the schools in amounts disproportionately higher than their numbers.
Don’t teachers and individuals contributing to scholarships share a common goal, which is to help kids, including those in failing schools with low achievement scores?
We most certainly believe so.
We also believe that schools perform much better when all stakeholders, including parents, businesses and taxpayers, are engaged with educators to provide the best possible outcome for all kids.
We wholeheartedly support this legislation and can’t emphasize enough that it is worthy of passage because the kids in these low-performing schools deserve better. They deserve a chance to attend better schools just like more privileged kids do.
This proposed legislation could give some of them a chance for a better education, which in turn could mean a brighter future.