The Tax Credits Program for School Choice

Policy Reports | Education

No. 213
Sunday, March 01, 1998
by Linda Morrison


  1. The terms government and nongovernment schools are used for reasons best summed by the National Scholarship Center in "The 1995 Annual Survey of the Private Voucher Movement in America":
    For the twin purposes of clarity and accuracy, we use the term government schools to denote those schools owned and/or operated by a government entity; accordingly, we use the term nongovernment schools to denote private, parochial, religious or independent schools. The reason is simple and unprovocative. In the first case, the chief unifying characteristic of what are known as public schools is the fact that they are all government-owned and government-operated - thus the term, government schools. In the second case, the sole unifying characteristic among the universe of private, parochial, religious or independent schools is that none of them are government-owned or government-operated -- thus the term, nongovernment schools. The most obvious alternative pair of terms -- public and nonpublic -- is unacceptable since it implies that while the former group serves the public, the latter group does not.
  2. Assignment Incomplete (New York: Public Agenda and Institute for Education Leadership, 1995).
  3. See Elie Pieprz, "Arizona Leads the Way on School Reform," Investor's Business Daily, May 13, 1997.
  4. See the section "Advantages over Other School Choice Plans."
  5. This paper is based on a proposal originally constructed for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania controls and funds its educational system the way most states do. Government schools are funded primarily through local taxes. State taxes provide most of the remaining funds. Control is divided between state and local authorities. Thus, although most of the examples apply to Pennsylvania, they are equally instructive for policymakers in other states.
  6. No one could receive a tax credit worth more than the tax paid; this is not a negative credit.
  7. See David Boaz and R. Morris Barrett, "What Would a School Voucher Buy? The Real Cost of Private Schools," Cato Institute Briefing Paper No. 25, March 26, 1996, p. 8.
  8. "1995 Annual Survey of the Private Voucher Movement in America," National Scholarship Center, Washington, D.C. The latest count of the number of cities with private school voucher programs was confirmed in a telephone conversation with Fritz Steiger, president, Children's Education Opportunity Foundation (CEO America), Bentonville, Ark., February 27, 1997.
  9. "The Voucher Voice," Children's Education Opportunity Foundation (CEO America), Bentonville, Ark., Winter 1995, and conversation with Fritz Steiger, president.
  10. According to a marketing survey conducted in 1993 by the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, the biggest disadvantage of nongovernment schools cited by parents was cost. Nationally, the average tuition for Catholic elementary schools is $1,280. See "Balance Sheet for Catholic Elementary Schools, 1995 Income and Expenses," National Catholic Education Association, Washington, D.C. High school tuition averages more than $3,300. See "Dollars and Sense: Catholic High Schools and Their Finances, 1994," National Catholic Education Association, Washington, D.C.
  11. The 1997 tax credit law has not yet been tested in court.
  12. Mueller v. Allen, 463 U.S. 388, June 29, 1983.

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