Monday, January 24, 2005

What's coming for school choice --

Posted by Craig Westover | 8:25 PM |  

This note from Elizabeth Mische executive director of the Partnership for Choice in Education.


I took a look at some of the comments on your site, and want to offer this information for your readers -- There IS life in the school choice movement, even this session – or, especially this session, it being the Budget Year.

We expect to see these bills introduced:

1)Restoration of the low-income Education Tax Credit to 100% of qualifying costs, with the family cap removed, the “slope” eliminated, an inflation adjustment in income eligibility and addition of tuition as a qualified expense.

2)A tax credit for individual filers who contribute to student tuition-granting organizations (scholarships) for low-income kids – this probably at 50% of contribution for up to $1K per return.

3)An access grant for low-income kids enrolled in district schools, who wish to take the state portion of funding to a school of choice -- private or parochial.

4)Special education – changes that require public school districts to show a compelling reason for de-mainstreaming special education students children enrolled in private and parochial schools.

People interested in expanding access to school choice beyond the well-to-do can contact the Governor’s office, the Senate and House majority and minority leaders, the Chairs of education committees in both bodies – and their local representatives.

Education reform won’t be easy to achieve. The DFL is confident that its constituents would rather tolerate the status quo than yield an inch of teachers union turf; the GOP isn’t sure they can act out of sincerely altruistic motives without being pilloried by the NEAT and PUPS people – whose “non-partisan” efforts are supported, in my home city of Saint Paul, by the superintendent’s office.
I understand that there is also legislation brewing to disallow school districts from supporting political campaigns such as NEAT and PUPS with public funds. Imagine: parents who like the status quo schools for their kids, demanding that other people leave their children (and their per-pupil unit funding) in those schools in order to subsidize their own tastes in education. So much for public education as an engine of democracy and liberty.
UPDATE from Tom Swift: As Tom wrote me, these should be some "fun" upcoming events. (Note the Sponsors.)

Education Funding: History and Outlook
7 - 8:30 p.m. Monday, January 24, 2005
Rondo Education Center
560 Concordia Ave. (Concordia Avenue and Dale Street)
St. Paul, MN
Speaker: Mary Cecconi, state director, Parents United Network
(Co-sponsors: SPPS and NEAT)

Advocacy 101: Making A Difference
7 - 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 8, 2005
Central High School Auditorium
275 N. Lexington Parkway (Lexington Parkway and Marshall Avenue)
St. Paul, MN
Speakers: Mary Gilbert and Linda Sandvig, SPPS Legislative Liaisons
Lois Rockney, Executive Director, SPPS Business and Financial Affairs
(Co-sponsors: SPPS and NEAT)

If you're interested in how the other have wants everyone to live, leave a note in the comments or drop an email to me or Tom Swift over at Pair O' Dice.