Sunday, July 19, 2009

SQE compares tax-credit scholarships to failed Ont. policy

A commitment to a cause some times means what you lean on to support your position can't support their weight of your argument.
Take this post over at the SQE blog, School for Thought. It's largely based on this St. Petersburg Times article on tax-credit scholarships. From the blog:
For anyone who supported Ontario’s now defunct Education Tax Credit this St. Petersburg Times article will make you wish it still existed.
It seems to School For Thought that the cost of running such a program in Ontario would have been a lot less than the costs of implementing class size caps or ineffective reading programs that do not translate into significant achievement gains.
Um, well, I think SQE has compared an apple to an orange.
The Equity in Education Tax Credit, in place briefly in the last futile days of the Harris-Eves Conservative government, would have provided, at full rollout, a refundable tax credit of up to 50 per cent of private-school tuition to a max of $3,500 per year, per child. Anyone who had children registered in these schools could claim and receive the tax credit, regardless of family income, etc.
The Florida tax-credit scholarships are exactly that-- a scholarship given as a tax credit to families who send their children to private schools. With one big difference. From the article:
In this expanding universe of options, the tax credit scholarship is aimed solely at low-income children.
Our scholarship parents pay on average $1,000 out of pocket to make up the difference between the tuition and the maximum $3,950 scholarship. This is remarkable given that their average income is $25,400 for a family of four. Two-thirds of the students are black or Hispanic, and three-fifths of them are from single-parent households.
So, this is not a shotgun approach that gives every family of private-school students a tax break. It's targeted and directed at those who would benefit the most.
The EETC was a desperate move by a government of the day that was desperate to avoid the thumping it surely knew was coming at the polls. The population it benefited most were the upper-middle- to upper-class families -- where most of the private-school support exists -- most likely to already be Tory supporters.
During the 2003 campaign, I covered a whistle-stop Eves campaign visit in Woodstock (the same day as the 'kitten eater' comment came out). With hundreds and hundreds of faith-based private school students in the district, students from one private school came to the rally to show their support for continuing the EETC. The one secular private school where attendance is all about the ability to pay.
It's clear the EETC is not anything like this Florida program-- they're a world apart.


Anonymous said...

Except, that many lower income families DID avail themselves of the Education Tax Credit which got yanked retroactively after they had already enrolled their kids.

The point is that the ETC gave lower income families a shot at school choice that they might never have had. ETC or not, wealthier families always had the option of private schooling.