When Governor Andrew Cuomo presented his vision this year for a budget, he gave it the name “the Opportunity Agenda.” A large part of this “opportunity” agenda focused on education, and more specifically, the Education Tax Credit, or ETC. The ETC would allow taxpayers to claim a tax credit for education-related donations.
Governor Cuomo believes that “one of the most important paths to opportunity is a good education,” and that “the ETC would expand options for families seeking additional choices” in education. He also believes that the ETC will benefit both public and nonpublic school students alike, with half of the donations going toward public education entities and the other half towards educational scholarship organizations. This push for a change in policy comes at a time when much of the population is divided on the issue, but Governor Cuomo is certain this is a win for the future of New York state.
With legislation supporting education scholarships already instituted in states like Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Arizona and Pennsylvania, this idea is not the first of its kind. However, Governor Cuomo faced quite the challenge to get this legislation passed in New York and with only a 28 percent approval rating as of mid-March, the initiative was ultimately dropped from the budget. This means it will be another year before it can be reassessed as a possibility.
Governor Cuomo is on the right track in believing that the ETC would be a positive change for New York. “We live in a time when 250,000 children have passed through schools that have been failing for a decade or more. Students need additional options” said the Governor when asked why the ETC is needed.
Countless studies have already proven the positive impacts of school choice through educational scholarships for students in Pre-K through 12th grade. Greg Foster, Ph.D., author of the report A Win-Win Solution: The Empirical Evidence on School Choice, found that “evidence consistently shows that school choice improves academic outcomes for participants and public schools, saves taxpayer money, moves students to more integrated classrooms, and strengthens the shared civic values and practices essential to American democracy.”
It is only a matter of time before a more consistent acceptance of educational scholarships happens across the nation. Major changes are needed in our education system, and this is an option that could have a positive impact on all students!