DeVos Pushes Tax Credit to Promote School Choice

WASHINGTON (CN) – Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed a plan Thursday to create federal tax credits encouraging donations to groups providing scholarships for students to attend private schools.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos talks with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards before a meeting at the White House on Feb. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Called the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, the proposal is an attempt to expand the nation’s 56 million K-12 students’ freedom to choose between attending public or private schools.

It would provide up to $5 billion a year in tax credits, matching one dollar in federal income tax credit for every dollar a person or organization contributes to state-approved nonprofits that provide scholarships. 

It would reimburse people for up to 10 percent of their gross income, and businesses up to 5 percent of their taxable income. Furthermore, each state would have the ability to choose the scholarship groups that participate in the program, how much money each scholarship offers, and which students would be able to receive them.

In a USA Today op-ed co-authored by Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., DeVos wrote Thursday that the scholarships would give “hundreds of thousands of students across the country opportunities to find the right fit for their education.”

Cruz and Byrne will be proposing the plan in Congress, where it is expected to face much scrutiny from House Democrats, who gained control of the chamber in the November midterm elections.

DeVos said the proposal would allow new money to be generated for scholarships without taking funds away from public education.

“These scholarships would most benefit America’s forgotten students who would finally have opportunities to pursue the best education for them in ways that rich, powerful and connected families always have,” she wrote.

“The key element of the proposal is freedom for all involved,” she continued. “Eligible students, families, teachers and schools, as determined by their states, all can participate at will and any can elect not to participate if that’s the better choice for them.”

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