Missouri House Passes Charter School Expansion

Today, the Missouri House passed a bill that will expand the opportunity for more students to enroll in public charter schools across the state. Currently, charter schools operate in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas. This legislation will allow students who live in a district with an underperforming school to have access to better educational options through public charter schools.

Statement from Tommy Schultz, National Communications Director for the American Federation for Children:

“The American Federation for Children is once again impressed at the growing momentum in Missouri for providing families more access to a great education for their children. Students beyond just Kansas City and St. Louis deserve the chance to choose the learning environment tailored to their needs and desires. High quality options are available, and those doors should be open to more students. We’d like to thank Rep. Roeber for authoring the legislation and Speaker Richardson for his leadership in fostering an environment for high quality education reforms that will benefit thousands of families across the state.”

With HB 634’s passage in the House, it’s another step in a series of efforts to advance educational choice. Two weeks ago, the House passed a course access bill by a wide bipartisan margin, allowing high schoolers to enroll in two classes—virtually or in person—at another school or education provider. The State of Missouri will approve of the courses and Governor Eric Greitens pledged in his State of the State address to expand and fully fund the program. It currently is under consideration in the Senate.

American Federation for Children Statement on White House FY 2018 Budget Outline

Today, the White House released the President’s FY 2018 budget proposal that included some promising first steps to empower parents. The American Federation for Children (AFC) released the following statement:

“In the President’s FY 2018 budget proposal, there are some positive items for school choice advocates, including increasing investment in public and private school choice. While details remain to be seen, this is a good first step in the budget process to demonstrate the Administration intends to fulfill the President’s commitment to expand school choice in America. AFC believes Congress has a rare window of opportunity to facilitate a significant expansion of school choice in America. AFC supports a federal tax credit, which is the broadest and most immediate way to help disadvantaged children around the country access a school of their parents’ choice. AFC also supports re-purposing federal K-12 funds to directly empower recipients of these funds to choose the public or private school of their choice.” – John Schilling, Chief Operating Officer of the American Federation for Children

Last month, AFC voiced its support for a well-designed federal tax credit to expand educational opportunity in America. In January, AFC released its third annual national school choice poll of likely voters conducted by the Democratic polling firm Beck Research, which found 72% of likely voters supporting a federal tax credit scholarship.

Historic School Choice Program Gains Support in Arkansas

The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, applauds Governor Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Legislature for a compromise that consolidates support for House Bill 1222, proposed by Representative Jim Dotson.

“We would like to commend Governor Asa Hutchinson, Representative Dotson and other legislative leaders on their ability to come together and reach an agreement on this historic proposal,” said Ryan Cantrell, Regional Advocacy & Political Director for the American Federation for Children. “This bill will allow hundreds of children all over Arkansas to choose the education that works best for them, while also allowing time to see the effectiveness of the program.”

House Bill 1222 would create the first in the nation Tax Credit Education Savings Account Program.

Under the compromise proposal, HB 1222 would create a four-year pilot program with an annual cap of $3 million. Students participating in the program would receive funding equal to the foundation funding amount, which is $6,646 in 2017, to go towards their individual education expenses. Rather than only being able to use funds on tuition and fees to attend a private school, parents could use this program to pay for other educational resources like tutoring, summer programs, and textbooks.

“We are excited about the trajectory that Arkansas is on when it comes to school choice,” said Cantrell. “This innovative, first of its kind program, really shows their commitment to shaking up the education status quo in order to better serve students. We urge the Legislature to quickly pass HB 1222 and allow Gov. Hutchinson to sign the law so we can start the process of implementing this important program.”

The bill passed out of House Education Committee this morning and is poised to be acted on by the full House later this week.

AFC Applauds House Committee for Supporting DC OSP Reauthorization

Reauthorization will benefit thousands of children in low-income families over the next five years

The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, applauds the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) for passing the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act to reauthorize the highly demanded and incredibly successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP).

Statement from John Schilling, Chief Operating Officer of the American Federation for Children:

“We thank Chairman Jason Chaffetz and members of the OGR Committee for passing the SOAR Act. The D.C. OSP has been an educational lifeline for children in low-income District of Columbia families, allowing these children to access a school that meets their needs and helping them to achieve educational success. Today’s vote sends a strong message that members recognize the success of the OSP and the tremendous demand from D.C.’s parents. We urge Congress to incorporate the OSP reauthorization into the final Fiscal Year 2017 budget bill and we look forward to working with members on broader legislation this year that will expand educational choice for children across the country.”

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is now in its 12th year serving the city’s most disadvantaged students. Nearly 6,600 children from low-income District families have been awarded scholarships since the program began in 2004-2005. More than 19,800 have applied for scholarships, and currently 1,244 students are enrolled. The average income for participating families is less than $22,000 per year and 97 percent of participating children are minority.

Graduation rates for D.C. OSP students are nearly 30 points higher than D.C. public schools. Recent data compiled by the program administrator shows a 2015-2016 graduation rate of 98 percent. 86 percent of these students were accepted into a 2-or-4 year college with 5 percent entering the military or technical school, while 3 percent had been awaiting college acceptance.

AFC Applauds Trump’s Visit to Florida Choice School

President Highlights Success of State’s Popular Tax Credit Scholarship Program 

The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, applauds President Donald Trump for visiting St. Andrew’s Catholic School in Orlando and highlighting the success of the popular Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program.

Statement from John Kirtley, Vice Chairman of the American Federation for Children:

“Nearly 100,000 children across the state of Florida this year have been given more educational opportunities thanks to the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program and schools like St. Andrew’s. As Denisha Merriweather showed the entire country this past Tuesday evening at President Trump’s joint address to Congress, a scholarship can end the cycle of poverty and provide a whole new direction in one’s life. She embodies the true power of choice in education, and thousands more can be served by a program like Florida’s across the entire country.”

St. Andrew’s is one of the more than 1,700 schools participating in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program, providing seats for a high-quality education to many students in need. St. Andrew’s serves 295 students from low-income families receiving a scholarship provided by non-profit organizations. Companies that donate to scholarship granting non-profits, such as Step Up for Students, receive a dollar-for-dollar state income tax credit.

For more information about tax credits that incentivize charitable giving to non-profit organizations who give out scholarships to needy kids, see more below.

Facts on the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC)

A dollar-for-dollar tax credit is given to companies that contribute to qualified non-profit organizations that give scholarships to economically disadvantaged K-12 students. More than 98,000 students – 100% of whom come from low-income families – receive a scholarship through the FTC statewide, and their household incomes average $24,000 per year. 60 percent of the students participating are black or Hispanic. The program enjoys broad bipartisan support in the Florida legislature. The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship was ranked #1 in the American Federation for Children’s inaugural 2016/2017 Report Card: http://bit.ly/2bnfCti.

AFC Support for a Federal Tax Credit Scholarship

The American Federation for Children (AFC) urges the Trump Administration and Congress to act with urgency to facilitate educational opportunity for millions of K-12 students who are trapped in schools that are not meeting their needs. With 68 percent nationwide supporting school choice, AFC enthusiastically supports the most viable and powerful proposal that could immediately help needy children in all 50 states: a federal tax credit to inspire charitable giving to local non-profits who would provide scholarships for eligible children to attend private schools. Publicly-supported tax credit scholarship programs are currently in place in 17 states and educate over 250,000 children, mostly from low-income families.

Empirical Research Facts on School Choice

There have been 15 gold standard empirical studies of private school choice measuring test score outcomes: 10 show improvement, 3 are neutral, and 2 are negative—only based upon on results in early years of those latter two studies.

Read the research summary here: http://bit.ly/2lDX23K.

School Choice Research: Setting the Record Straight

The Credible Research Shows Progress for Kids

Recent columns in the news media, including ones in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, are using self-selected data points to suggest that private school choice programs do not work for children. This assertion, while it makes a nice headline and feeds a false narrative the education establishment is working overtime to create, bears no resemblance to the actual evidence.

It’s time to set the record straight.

There have been 15 gold standard empirical studies of private school choice and academic outcomes: 10 are positive, 3 are neutral, and 2 are negative—only based upon on results in early years of those two studies.

Today, there are approximately 3.5 million children enrolled in charter schools or one of the 50 private school choice programs in 25 states and Washington, D.C. There’s a reason that tens of thousands of families are on waiting lists or have to participate in lotteries to get into a school of choice. Parents have made it crystal clear to lawmakers that they want educational choice and they don’t want it limited to public school choice.  Likely voters have made their opinions clear in polling – 68 percent support school choice, and those percentages are even higher among African-American (72 percent), Hispanic (75 percent), and Millennial (75 percent) voters.

School choice works. It works based on the research, and it works according to the 3.5 million children currently benefitting and the undeniable demand of millions of additional parents who want to choose the best school for their children.

Find a summary on school choice research here: http://bit.ly/2lDX23K.