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Kentucky has School Choice (For Some)06 Jan

Capitol DomeWe have school choice in Kentucky.  Wealthy and upper middle class parents have the financial means to send their children to nonpublic schools or to move to a different school district when the one that they are assigned to is not meeting their children’s needs.  Yet, the vast majority of middle class and working class families do not have these options.  In some limited instances, children of modest means have the opportunity to choose amongst public schools.  For example; Jefferson County Public Schools allow for choice amongst its schools.  Yet, even these programs have limitations that can leave a child’s future “up to chance” if they are unable to get into their preferred public school.

In summary, we have school choice in Kentucky for some families.  The well-off have an unfettered right to send their children to the school that best meets their needs.  It is a roll of the dice for everyone else.

Fortunately, the Kentucky General Assembly has the power to provide middle class and working class families with more options.  A tuition assistance tax credit is the place to start.  The tax credit would encourage donations to organizations that provide tuition assistance to families who wish to send their children to nonpublic schools.

Similar programs are available across the country.  States that have adopted these programs have seen significant increases in the funds available for tuition assistance.  As a result, more families have the opportunity to choose where their children go to school.  Even more important, parents are pleased with the results.  In Georgia, one survey found that 98.6 percent of these parents were either “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the decision to send their children to a nonpublic school using the tuition assistance program.

January 6th is the beginning of the 2015 session of the General Assembly.  It is time to ask your state representative and state senator to take action on this important legislation.  All Kentucky families deserve school choice regardless of their income or ZIP Code.

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