Phoenix, AZ- In a study released today by the Goldwater Institute, Associate Scholar Dan Lips proposes a new federal education reform based on the successful Arizona scholarship tax credit. "A recent national exam found that one in three fourth-graders could not read," writes Lips. "The time has come for serious education reform." Citing decades of broken promises and hundreds of billions of wasted taxpayer dollars, Lips says lawmakers in Congress should embrace the tax credit as a proven reform that delivers power to parents.
In "The Arizona Scholarship Tax Credit: A Model for Federal Reform," Lips outlines a school choice proposal that would allow individuals to take a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for charitable donations made to non-profit groups that give low-income children scholarships to attend privately run schools. (Versions of this proposal have already been introduced in Congress.)
Lips' study finds that a $500 scholarship tax credit targeted to low-income public school students could:
- Deliver scholarships worth $2,000 each to an estimated 1.6 million low-income, public school students qualifying for the national free and reduced school lunch program.
- Raise 14,000 scholarships for students in Arizona, saving taxpayers $66 million annually; by comparison, New York could raise 153,000 scholarships and save $1.4 billion.
- Ease the fiscal burden on state and local governments by saving more than $11 billion in public education costs per year.
- Reduce public school class sizes by a national average of 3.5 percent.
- Begin to devolve federal power over education back to parents and local authorities.
For 1.6 million needy public school students, a tax credit scholarship could mean the difference between a lifetime of learning and hope or illiteracy and despair. For American education, a $500 federal scholarship tax credit could be the catalyst for real systemic reform that begins to transfer control of education from bureaucrats to parents.