Bailing out School Choice

The time for an education tax credit is now. As the economy suffers, even more families are struggling to afford the best education for their children. A $1,000 tax credit for your own children’s K-12 education expenses, or for donations to scholarship programs for children in low-income families, would ease the burden on many Oregonians in these tough economic times. House Bill 2754 would increase parents’ ability to choose the best education for their children by creating tax credits for education expenses.

One state representative recently commented that considering the anticipated budget shortfall, this would be a terrible time to create an education tax credit. The truth, however, is that the legislature’s priorities lay elsewhere. The state would rather give millions to big businesses for energy efficiency upgrades (which would often occur anyway in pursuit of lower energy expenses), than to invest in enabling families to choose how to nurture young minds — minds which could one day make the next great sustainable energy discoveries.

The education tax credits that would be created under HB 2754 would help more families afford to pay for tutoring, better supplies, or to send their child to a school better suited to his or her needs. With everyone looking for ways to “stimulate” the economy, what better way than to let both public and private school families spend more on education for their children? And, if a tax credit empowers more families to place their children in private schools, then we need to ask why state government hasn’t made those choices easier already. The time for education tax credits is now.

Christina Martin is Director of the Asset Ownership Project and a policy analyst for the School Choice Project at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.