AFC Urges Federal Action to Expand Educational Opportunity in America

The American Federation for Children (AFC), the nation’s voice for educational choice, 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.

“Over the past six years, voters – many of whom are parents with children – have made it crystal clear that they want more educational options for children. Now is the time for the majority in Congress, working with an Administration unencumbered by the education establishment, to take action,” said John Kirtley, Vice-Chairman of the American Federation for Children.

AFC supports many of the proposals in Congress that would expand educational choice including portability of federal K-12 funds, expanding 529 plans and increasing funding for public charter schools. AFC also 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. These programs are proven successes, rescuing children from schools that fail to meet their needs, helping them to make academic progress and saving taxpayer dollars.

A well-designed federal tax credit help would help expand programs in current states and offer educational freedom in states without programs, including states where legislatures controlled by special interests refuse to pass tax credit scholarship laws. It should not come with a host of regulations to burden private schools and suppress participation. It should include common sense financial and academic accountability to ensure appropriate use of taxpayer funds and to show participating students are making academic progress. It should be a parent-centered program in which recipients have the freedom to take their scholarship to any participating private school. It should also have an income eligibility threshold that is high enough to help struggling working- and middle-class families participate.

Momentum for expanding parental choice – charters, private choice, virtual and blended learning – in America has never been stronger. In January, AFC released its third annual national school choice poll of likely voters conducted by the Democratic polling firm Beck Research. Among the key findings

  • Voters want educational options – 68% support the concept of school choice
  • School choice support is bipartisan – Republicans (84%), Democrats (55%) and Independents (67%)
  • School choice supporters are diverse – Latinos (75%), African Americans (72%) and Millennials (75%)
  • Voters want congressional action – 72% of voters support a federal tax credit scholarship

“Real windows of opportunity to advance bold public policy that truly puts the interests of students first are rare,” Kirtley added. “We urge school choice advocates to stand together and seize this unprecedented opportunity. Now is the time to work with Congress and the Administration to dramatically accelerate educational opportunity in America by passing a federal tax credit.”