Saturday, September 19, 2020
US flag

DeVos pushes Freedom Scholarship, a tax credit

For the record, US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Trump aide Kellyanne Conway spoke today at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank in the nation’s capital, pushing a tax credit program known as the Freedom Scholarships, a $5 billion expenditure bill propped up in the Senate by Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, that has virtually no chance of passing in the Democratic-controlled House, especially when an impeachment inquiry is in full swing.

Ms DeVos told the institute that she couldn’t understand why true conservatives were shying away from the plan.

“I remain dumbfounded that some conservatives who masquerade as education reformers criticize this proposal,” US News & World Report quoted her as saying. “Who would have thought that Ted Cruz or I would have been accused of trying to grow the federal government?”

If it ever sees the light, the tax credit could help families cover the cost of attending a private or public K-12 school of their choice or of taking online classes, getting some tutoring, participating in after-school programs, and so on. It would provide a tax credit to individuals and businesses that contribute taxable income to an organization that provides scholarships that are set aside mostly for low-income students.


Even the conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation, has come out in opposition to the proposal. Ms DeVos’s bewilderment as to why so many people on both sides of the political aisle opposed the plan gives me an opportunity, though, to explain a little something about “school choice” that may have escaped the education secretary.

I’m personally opposed to the proposal because tax credits would go to families or organizations that can already afford to support scholarships in the first place, not to low-income households. Sure, some of those students might benefit from the scholarships those wealthy people and organizations fund, if they can get them, but programs like this underscore a big fallacy about school choice:

The fallacy: School choice favors low-income households. It does not. Tax credit legislation requires that people or organizations put out the money in the first place. One of my best low-income friends can’t even put away $500 to buy a cheap, broken-down car. There’s no way she could ever afford to pay private school tuition and even think about this tax credit. And that presumes the school of her choice won’t abandon her daughter in the middle of the year.

Read in the Arizona Republic: More than 100 Arizona charter schools could close because of financial issues, by Craig Harris.

Also, in Forbes: The Promises Charter Schools Don’t Make, by Peter Greene.

So her daughter will continue to attend the free public school she now attends and build an education trajectory that will reward her for what she puts into it, with her family’s help.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

Students help in wake of Gulf Coast storms

Hurricane victims in the South got some much needed help from students at one Louisiana school. Laura and Sally have been very destructive.

Scientific American endorses a candidate

It's rare that a science journal would endorse a presidential candidate, but it has happened, due mainly to Pres. Trump's rejection of science.

Student news roundup, Maryland, Sept. 16

The pandemic reveals much more about us than our unpreparedness for virtual learning; Md. students look at healthcare and choices about schooling.

Smoke from Calif. paints the East Coast sun

The sunrise this morning in Baltimore and Chicago was cooled by smoke from the Calif. wildfires, which created a thick haze aloft.

Student news roundup, Illinois, Sept. 14

Special ed advocate in Evanston dies; Remembering 9/11; Business, fine arts, and cultural life during the pandemic.

No, the president can’t run for a 3rd term

The 22nd Amendment limits the number of times a president can be elected to two. But maybe Constitutions mean little to the current administration.

Worst Calif. wildfire season in decades

Wildfires in what could be one of Calif.'s worst autumns ever have destroyed structures, including schools, killed people, and mass evacuations.

Children will wait to impress others

Does it pay off to wait for a bigger reward, or should you just take a smaller reward quicker? The "marshmallow test" has some insights.

School opens virtually in most Md. districts

School is now in session across all of Maryland, and it's mostly online, despite calls to keep trying to get in-person instruction.

Student news roundup, Illinois, Sept. 8

The pandemic, performing arts, and politics generally led student news stories from the Prairie State this past week.

On Trump’s ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’ remark

It was hard to swallow when it was reported that the president said military personnel who had died in battle were suckers and losers.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.