The claim by the Lincoln Journal Star editorial board on Feb. 3 related to school choice is not consistent with the facts in Lincoln ("Don’t siphon money from public schools").
State senators can look north across the street from the state Capitol and see St. Mary’s Catholic School, a school that serves inner city kids on minimal tuition, relying on scattered donations, and a school that is struggling to survive. St. Mary’s developed a recent strategic plan that placed high priority on scholarships, which will help more low income and inner city families. That’s why so many support the Opportunity Scholarship Act, LB295.
Opportunity Scholarships are not the “tuition tax credits” referenced by the Journal Star editorial board, which go to parents who can already afford to pay for tuition up front. Opportunity Scholarships are funded by private donations to Scholarship Granting Organizations and distributed to children who lack the means to attend schools such as St Mary’s.
Furthermore, Opportunity Scholarships “siphon” no money away from public schools. The U.S. Supreme Court stated as much in Arizona Christian Tuition Organization v. Winn in 2011, where it ruled that “like contributions that lead to charitable tax deductions, contributions yielding (SGO) tax credits are not owed to the state and, in fact, pass directly from taxpayers to private organizations.”
Low income families with students should not give up hope. Many are tirelessly working to grant you options such as the Opportunity Scholarship Act so that you can make the educational decision you want for your children.
Paul Edwards, Lincoln