Pennsylvania’s Christmas Gift to K-12 Students

By Kathryn Hickok

Christmas came early for children and parents in Pennsylvania when the state legislature expanded funding for their K-12 education tax-credit programs in mid-December. Almost 80,000 lower-income children receive scholarships to attend private schools chosen by their families through Pennsylvania’s two school choice programs. The approved increase reportedly will fund about 35,000 more scholarships.

Pennsylvania has two school choice programs that help children from low-to-middle-income families attend private schools. The Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit offer tax credits to businesses that voluntarily donate to scholarship-granting organizations and other groups that promote educational improvement.

The bipartisan agreement to expand educational opportunity in Pennsylvania is a victory for families over political differences in a “purple state.” Colleen Hroncich of CATO’s Center for Educational Freedom and Sharon Sedlar of PA Families for Education Choice pointed out in a recent op-ed that “[s]upport for giving families a say in education is broad and bipartisan, but it often gets stymied by political fights in state legislatures.” The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board noted, “All House Democrats and most in the Senate supported the legislation, which included funding for public schools and other provisions.” Policymakers across the political spectrum are realizing that opportunity and choice in education are important to a lot of parents who live and vote in their states.

Kathryn Hickok is Executive Vice President at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization, and Director of Cascade’s Children’s Scholarship Fund-Oregon program.

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