Each year, for whatever reason, nearly 2000 kids drop out of Montana Public Schools. If your student needs a change from public school, we may have a solution.
One of the Montana Family Foundation’s major victories in the 2015 Legislative Session was a breakthrough on school choice. We worked to pass tax credit scholarships, which made it all the way through the process and became law. It created a $150 tax credit when someone donates to a scholarship fund for kids to go to private school.
What does that mean for you? Maybe your student could benefit from private school. Maybe you have a son or daughter who just isn’t reaching their full potential in public school, and you’d like to try a private one. But private school is expensive, especially when you’re already paying the heavy property tax burden that funds public schools.
This new program, which is a private sector solution to a public sector problem, will make more financial aid available. Scholarship and grant programs like them will become better funded. You’d be surprised how many scholarship opportunities there are for private school in Montana, and this new law should make that number grow.
For example, there’s the ACE Scholarship organization which grants $2,000 scholarships to more than 50 private schools in Montana, and they’re already providing financial aid to more than 500 students. And now that donors can get a tax credit, expect those amounts to increase.
Tax credit scholarships are only the beginning of the benefits that Montana could be seeing from school choice. During the Legislature, we tried to pass Education Savings Accounts, a bigger tax credit than the $150 allowed in SB 410, and charter schools. Every one of those would make it easier for parents in Montana to send their kids to a different school. Unfortunately they ran into fierce opposition from the education establishment and either died in the process or were vetoed by the governor.
But when it comes to helping Montana families educate their children, any victory is better than nothing. And for years, nothing is all we could get. The teachers’ union is so adamantly opposed to school choice that it’s been a long haul to get even the $150 tax credit contained in SB 410. And when you’re trying to pay for your child’s education, every little bit helps.
Even now, the state Department of Revenue and Office of Public Instruction are organizing the system that will implement this $150 tax credit for scholarship donations, and the Montana Family Foundation is actively working to influence the outcome in the most positive way possible for families.
You and people like you are the ones who made this victory possible. During the Legislative session, dozens of pro-family Montanans came to the capitol to lobby on behalf of school choice bills. Many listeners to this broadcast were on the front line and I want to thank you for that.
Today, we’re seeing the results. You can expect an increase in the amount of financial aid money that’s available for Montana kids to go to private school. And these are private dollars, not public tax dollars, so they didn’t increase the budget. That’s a victory that came directly from informed citizens choosing to play a role in their government. These tax credit scholarships will be available in the beginning of 2016 and we’ll keep you posted on the progress. I hope you’ll continue to stay informed and take action. We need parents helping shape our state’s school policy because education is far too important to be left to the bureaucrats.