Vouchers for education defined
March 09, 2006

Education tax credits
Misinformation is the enemy of success

by Missouri Rep. Ed Emery
(R-126 including the counties of Barton, Dade, Jasper and Polk)

I have been hearing from some who oppose a House education bill which creates tuition tax credits to help failing students escape failing school systems. Most of those contacting my office have not read the legislation and are simply accepting the word of former State Representative Jim Kreider (D) or a union lobbyist who is telling them they should oppose the bill. Too few have considered either the disaster course that some students are on, or a way for those students to escape the prison or welfare rolls.

Did you know that high school dropout rates exceed 50% in some urban districts? Anecdotally, I am told that the number of Missouri high school dropouts approximates the number of additions to Missouri’s Medicaid and prison roles annually. Statistics from the Department of Correction confirm that 57 percent of inmates do not have a high school diploma; 41% of those are from St. Louis and Kansas City.

The teachers’ unions are calling House Bill 1783 a voucher bill, which suggests that public money would be leaving public schools for private schools. That is not the case. The bill will result in more total money spent on education and more $ per student in the public school formula. The question of whether a tax credit is public money has already been settled in court with other tax credit programs; tax credit dollars are private dollars. There will be no mingling of public and private education funds!

Another false claim is that HB 1783 will hurt public schools by skimming the best students. In fact, the opposite is true. Students eligible for the tax credit scholarships must have family income of no more than 135% of reduced lunch criterion and must have a GPA of 2.5 or below. Are the unions telling you that where similar policies were adopted in Florida, Arizona, Wisconsin, Maine, Vermont, and Texas, public school performance actually improved (according to multiple studies)? In no case has public school performance worsened. Also, graduation rates have measurably improved according to some reports.

It is not an overstatement to say that the choice for many of these urban students is dramatic – a new approach to their education or the road to prison. We cannot sacrifice our children to the god of institutional momentum. Please be careful of those who would use their influence to cloud the truth rather than promote it. If your advisors are misinforming you, it may be time for new advisors.

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Re: Rep. Emery School and School Choice 06 articlesuzq2125902007-10-30 22:46:16