Will Arizona's School-choice Program Become the National Model?
July 24, 2000
Arizona's school choice program differs from other choice programs around the country. Rather than give students vouchers to attend schools their parents choose, it 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, or fee-based, school. Arizonans can also receive a $200 tax credit for donating money directly to public schools.
- There are now 34 private-tuition charities in Arizona -- up from two before the tax credit was enacted in 1997 -- and each is required by law to spend at least 90 percent of its income from contributions on tuition assistance.
- More than 30,000 people contributed to private scholarship plans last year -- raising $13.2 million.
- As a result, nearly 7,000 students -- most of them from low- and moderate-income families -- have benefited from the program during the 1999-2000 school year.
- In addition, some public schools have received upwards of $100,000 in contributions and the state's burgeoning charter schools got $80,000 last year.
The tax scheme avoids some of the potential problems with vouchers -- which conservatives and libertarians worry will lead to government meddling and undermine private-school autonomy.
Source: Nina Shokraii Rees (Heritage Foundation), "Arizona's Tax Credit: School Choice Model," Washington Times, July 24, 2000.
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