Republican senators have introduced a bill that would create a permanent tax credit scholarship for students to attend schools of their choice, which would be included in the coronavirus relief package.
U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, and Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, introduced the School Choice Now Act, which has already received the support of President Donald Trump and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos
“Thank you [Sens. Scott and Alexander] for your tireless support of students and of President [Trump’s] plan to provide #SchoolChoiceNow to students across America,” DeVos tweeted after they introduced the bill. “This bill must be part of any relief package to help all students return safely to school in the fall.”
During the latest round of coronavirus relief package negotiations, the Trump administration requested $105 billion be put towards school reopening efforts. Roughly 10 percent of this would go towards the school-choice initiative, according to a report published by RealClear Politics.
“This is about the 5.7 million American children who attend private schools,” Alexander said in a video with Scott explaining the legislation. “They’ll get their fair share of the money that the Senate and Congress will appropriate to help children go back safely to school. It will go to states, who will then in turn give it to families, who will have more choices of schools.”
Companion legislation, introduced in the House by Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama, has 110 cosponsors.
“It allows for kids to maintain their pre-pandemic education path,” Scott said. “This gives power to parents – and we all know when parents have a choice, kids have a better chance of success.”
The bill allows for one-time emergency funding to scholarship-granting organizations in each state and authorizes states to create permanent tax credit scholarship programs. A permanent, dollar-for-dollar federal tax credit would be created for contributions to scholarship-granting organizations, according to the bills.
Funds awarded to families through the tax credit scholarship program could be used for nonpublic educational expenses, including private school tuition and home schooling expenses.
“All parents, regardless of income or circumstance, should be able to decide which school best meets their child’s needs, whether that school is public or private,” Alexander said. “The School Choice Now Act provides scholarships to students to have the opportunity to return to the private school they attended before the pandemic – and gives other students a new opportunity to attend private school.”