Focus Point - Arizona's Approach to Choice

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. You know how I feel about school choice. I'll take it any way I can get it, and Arizona may have a great way, according to a note from the Heritage Foundation.

Rather than give students vouchers to attend schools, the state offers a $500, dollar-for-dollar tax credit to anyone who contributes to a private charity that uses the money to pay tuition for eligible students at a private school.

The idea's caught on. There were two private tuition charities in Arizona in 1997. Now there are 34. More than 30,000 people contributed $13.2 million to private funds last year. As a result, nearly 7,000 students, mostly low- and moderate-income families benefitted from the program during the 1999-2000 school year.

The rules are flexible enough that people can even contribute to public schools, and the tax approach eliminates the chance government could meddle with private school autonomy -- not particularly a concern of mine, but one which troubles some reasonable people.

It sounds to me like Arizona's hit on a winner.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, Dealing With criminals.