Will Oregon Give a Step Up to Our Students?

On April 9 the Florida legislature passed a major expansion of one of the nation’s prominent school choice programs, Step Up for Students. This program provides scholarships to Florida children from low-income families to attend a private school or an out-of-district public school, whether or not their local public school is judged by the government to be “succeeding” or “failing.” Rather, the state of Florida recognizes that children learn in different ways and that parents should have choices in their children’s education.

Step Up for Students is funded voluntarily by corporations, which receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for donations to nonprofit organizations granting scholarships to low-income children. If signed by the governor, the new legislation would expand the corporate donation cap as donations increase.

Florida’s bipartisan expansion of Step Up for Students demonstrates yet again that school choice is a nonpartisan issue. The bill was supported by about half of the Democrats present and by a majority of the House Black Caucus.

27,000 low-income children in Florida are getting a better education through tax credit scholarships, thanks to the persistence of their parents and the courage of their legislators. Isn’t it time Oregon’s legislators gave our children the same chance?

Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director at Cascade Policy Institute and Director of the privately funded Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland, which provides partial tuition scholarships to Oregon elementary students from lower-income families.