Missouri Voters Advance School Choice Champions

The American Federation for Children, the nation’s largest school choice organization, congratulates the candidates who support giving parents the opportunity to choose the best school for their child on their victories in Tuesday’s elections in Missouri. The election results are in line with numerous public polls that have found strong, bipartisan support for school choice.

Statement from John Schilling, President of the American Federation for Children:

“At a time when Missouri parents are demanding more options for their children’s education, it comes as no surprise to us that tonight’s primary voters rewarded candidates who support giving families a wider range of choices in schooling. Tonight’s election results were a strong vote in favor of school choice.”

Details:

The American Federation for Children has been advocating in Missouri for educational excellence and academic accountability with an agenda that includes statewide expansion of charter schools, the creation of a private school choice program and easier access for students to virtual learning. We are encouraged by the following victories:

Candidates:

HD 33 Chris Sander
HD 40  Chad Perkins
HD 63 Richard West
HD 124 Dr. Lisa Thomas
HD 156 Brian Seitz
HD 157 Mitch Boggs

SD 23 Bill Eigel (incumbent)
SD 27 Holly Rehder

U.S. Senators Tim Scott and Lamar Alexander Introduce School Choice Now Act

Today, Senators Tim Scott and Lamar Alexander introduced legislation to ensure K-12 students can return to the private school they attended before the pandemic and to create opportunity for more families to choose an option that will work best for their child. The Senators noted that at a time when many schools may not reopen or are not providing high quality virtual options, the children most at risk are from lower income families. Read Senator Tim Scott’s full release here.

Statement from John Schilling, President of the American Federation of Children:

“We applaud Senator Scott and Chairman Alexander for their leadership in recognizing that the pandemic does not distinguish between public and private school students, and that all students must be supported. Private schools are an essential part of America’s K-12 system, educating 5.7 million students and saving the public school system $75 billion annually. Many of these schools are in danger of closing as a result of the pandemic and these are the schools serving children in lower income and working class families. Permanent closure of these schools would be devastating for students, families and communities, and a financial disaster for states and school districts. Millions of additional families want and need alternative options, especially in this time of crisis. This legislation will support all families and circumvent further disruptions to learning for children across the country. We urge the Senate to include this critically important legislation in the next COVID relief bill.”

Details:

The School Choice Now Act, if passed, would:

– Provide one-time, emergency appropriations to scholarship granting organizations to prevent widespread closures of private schools

– Scholarship-granting organizations would be authorized to use the one-time funding to provide families with direct educational assistance, including for private school tuition and home-schooling expenses

– Creates educational opportunity for more families to choose the best educational option for their child

– Provides a dollar-for-dollar federal tax credit for contributions to scholarship-granting organizations, which could generate up to $5 billion in new funds for education

South Carolina’s Governor Prioritizes Students with Relief

Today, Governor Henry McMaster released details of a plan to expand educational options and opportunity to families in South Carolina. The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, praises the Governor for his visionary plan to use federal COVID funding for education needs.

Statement from John Schilling, President of the American Federation of Children:

“Governor McMaster has established a new paradigm for families in South Carolina by supporting them with K-12 educational options during this critical time. With this incredibly bold proposal, he joins Oklahoma and Florida governors who have rightly decided to help children in lower income families through prudent use of federal COVID funding. The positive impact generated in the lives of South Carolinian families will reverberate for years as lower income and working class families will get access to a great education for their sons and daughters. We are eager to see more and more governors prioritize the needs of all families in their states.

Details:

The Governor’s Office is designating $32M of this GEER Fund to create the SAFE Grants program. This program will be administered by the Office of the Governor (with administrative support from South Carolina Department of Administration) which will contract with a 3rd party online vendor to receive parent applications and disburse subgrants.

The Office of the Governor will appoint a 3-person school advisory panel to review and approve the applications of independent schools to receive subgrants as part of the program.

These funds will be used to support the tuition costs (up to $6,500 per child) of students whose household adjusted gross income (AGI) is 300% or less of the federal poverty level ($78,600 for a family of four) and who are enrolled in an education-related entity (independent school) that the Governor has “deemed essential” to “continue providing educational services to their students” to support the “on-going functionality” of these entities and “to protect education-related jobs.”

Eligible families may apply through a secure online portal at MySCEducation.org.

Schools wishing to participate in the program must complete an online application process that verifies basic legal, educational, and accountability requirements. This application can be found at surveymonkey.com/r/SAFEGrantSchool.

Participation in the SAFE Grant program will be considered state assistance to qualified students enrolled in an education-related entity deemed essential by the Governor for carrying out emergency educational services through a subgrant, and will not be considered federal aid or assistance to the school that enrolls the qualified student.

Governor Stitt Puts Families and Students First During COVID Crisis

The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, praises Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt for his visionary plan to use federal COVID funding for education needs.

Statement from Jennifer Carter, Oklahoma Senior Advisor for the American Federation for Children regarding Governor Stitt’s announcement today on the use of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Funds (GEER) for students:

“Governor Stitt’s plan is among the most innovative in the nation, and places Oklahoma as a true leader in education and serving children. This plan increases education choice for all children in all schools across Oklahoma. It will aid homeless children. It will help teens struggling with addiction. It will allow rural schools to increase course offerings. It will close the digital divide for low-income families. It will stabilize private schools and prevent a mass exodus to traditional schools that cannot financially handle a huge infusion of new students. The governor’s plan will improve education across the board, for all students and provide Oklahoma families that most precious of gifts: hope for a better future for their children.”

Statement from J.D. Fennell, Executive Director of Mission Academy High School, which helps reclaim teens from substance abuse and addiction by providing a sober high school and recovery support:

“Our work at Mission Academy combines addiction recovery and education, and it literally saves lives. The scholarships the governor is providing will help our students continue on the path of sobriety while continuing their education, rather than being placed back in the school environments where their struggles first began and their very lives are at stake with temptations around every corner. The families we serve greatly appreciate the Governor Stitt’s leadership and support.”

Read Governor Stitt’s release here: https://www.federationforchildren.org/governor-stitt-announces-30-million-education-allocation-plan/

School Choice Supporters Victorious in Oklahoma Election

The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, congratulates the candidates who support educational choice on their successes in Tuesday’s elections in Oklahoma. The election results are in line with numerous public polls that have found strong, bipartisan support for school choice.

Statement from Jennifer Carter, Oklahoma Senior Advisor for the American Federation for Children:

“The ultimate poll is the vote of the people, and today’s elections show that voters in both parties continue to support candidates who support educational opportunity for all children. One incumbent lawmaker was ousted today and one forced into a runoff in favor of challengers who support school choice policies. We supported several incumbent lawmakers who have co-authored or voted for school choice measures who prevailed in their re-election races.

“The Oklahoma Federation for Children Action Fund is proud to support candidates who fight to ensure a range of high-quality educational options exist for each and every child regardless of zip code, including everything from better public schools to homeschooling to charter schools to private schools.  Our congratulations go to today’s winners who are proving themselves committed allies of Oklahoma families.”

Details:

The Oklahoma Federation for Children Action Fund supported the following school choice champions who won their elections or advanced to the runoff or general based upon results posted at the time of release:

SD 1 Micheal Bergstrom (victory)
SD 17 Shane Jett (runoff)
SD 28 Zack Taylor (victory)
HD 3 Rick West (general)
HD 20 Sherrie Conley (victory)
HD 40 Chad Caldwell (victory)
HD 52 Gerrid Kendrix (victory)
HD 99 Ajay Pittman (victory)

Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Largest School Choice Expansion in U.S. History

Today Florida Governor Ron DeSanits signed HB 7067, which is the is the most expansive private school choice bill ever passed in U.S. history. The bill allows the Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) to grow by at least 28,000 students every year.

The FES was created last year to address the backlog of applications to Florida’s tax credit scholarship for low income children, which serves 100,000 students per year. The FES is funded through the state K-12 education budget, and served 17,000 children in its first year. Like the tax credit scholarship program, the FES empowers low income and working class families with scholarships to pay tuition to the private school of their choice.

The bill signing comes one day after Gov. DeSantis signed into law the largest increase in public school teacher salaries in the state’s history, which he championed this past year. The measure will make Florida’s starting salaries for public school teachers the 5th-highest in the nation.

The American Federation for Children, the nation’s largest school choice advocacy organization, released the following statement:

Statement from AFC Vice Chairman, John Kirtley: 

“The fact that Governor DeSantis signed these two bills in two days shows that supporting educational choice and public school teachers are not mutually exclusive. I want to thank the Governor, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, Senate K-12 Chair Manny Diaz, House K-12 Chair Jennifer Sullivan and all the Democrats who supported their constituents’ wishes by voting for this bill.”

Please watch this short clip of the bill signing tweeted out by Governor DeSantis:

https://twitter.com/govrondesantis/status/1276260572015857665

And the full clip here:

https://twitter.com/GovRonDeSantis/status/1276230184874598401