They are called Education Freedom Scholarships, and they were introduced this past February to much fanfare.
“Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, along with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), unveiled Education Freedom Scholarships (EFS), the Trump Administration’s key proposal to expand and improve the education options available to students across the country. The policy will make a historic investment in America’s students, injecting up to $5 billion yearly into locally controlled scholarship programs that empower students to choose the learning environment and style that best meets their unique needs. The policy would not rely on any funds currently allocated to public education, nor would it create a new federal education program. Participation would be voluntary for students, schools, and states.”
EFS will be funded through taxpayers’ voluntary contributions to state‐identified Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs). Those taxpayers will then receive a non‐refundable, dollar‐for‐dollar federal tax credit. EFS will not create a new federal education program but instead will allow states to decide whether to participate and how to select eligible students, education providers, and allowable education expenses.
The state can decide “how to select eligible students, providers, and education expenses.”
This is North Carolina: the petri dish of “reform” and privatization. And who gets to decide for the state how that money is spent? It doesn’t take much to figure it out.
Today, DeVos was in North Carolina to tout this new program. As reported by the News & Observer today,
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest promoted a new federal school choice program Wednesday that could allow more families to attend private schools or to homeschool their children.
The N&O article did quote Kris Nordstrom who offered probably the most succinct critique of this new DeVos initiative.
Locally, Kris Nordstrom, education finance and policy consultant for the N.C. Justice Center’s Education and Law Project, said the proposed scholarship program is a terrible idea. He said it will likely result in more money going to help subsidize the tuition costs for parents who would have sent their children to private school anyway.
“We know that where we have these voucher programs we will be subsidizing religious extremist, anti-LGBTQ hate groups,” Nordstrom said in an interview Wednesday. “Schools that tell students dinosaurs walked with man, schools that tell students slavery wasn’t that bad.”
Nordstrom questioned the timing of the new program when DeVos is also talking about federal education cuts for initiatives such as afterschool programs and teacher training. DeVos attributed the cuts to Congress wanting the federal government to “tighten the belt.”
Nordstrom called Wednesday’s visit a “clown show all around” designed to help boost Forest, who is running for governor in 2020.
Nordstrom’s tweet later in the day clarified a little more about that “clown show.”
That license plate idea was an idea from back in 2015. The plates were to look like this.
The demand never reached 500 to start the production.
Forest is aligning himself more and more with Betsy DeVos. This is from last month.
It is ironic how Forest can be so anti pro-choice and so pro-school choice at the same time. But that is exactly what Betsy DeVos is as well.
In this very well-explained piece, he talks about something akin to what DeVos was pushing in North Carolina today – the Tax Credit Scholarship.
But Tax Credit Scholarships disempower taxpayers even further by putting the purse strings in the hands of wealthy individuals and corporations.
A TCS system essentially lets those folks give their dollars to schools instead of using the money to pay their taxes. In effect, the donors fund schools directly, rather than through tax dollars paid to the state (meanwhile, the state’s tax revenue drops a commensurate amount).