Education Secretary Betsy DeVos promoted a proposed federal scholarship program during a visit to Missouri this week.
The Education Freedom Scholarship would allow individuals and businesses to receive a federal tax credit by donating to state nonprofits, which then grant scholarships for schoolchildren, she told a group of conservative attorneys and judges in the Capitol, according the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“It connects dollars to students,” DeVos told members of the Federalist Society gathered in the House chambers. The proposal is similar to voucher programs in other states, which use taxpayer dollars to fund private schools. A similar proposal was introduced in the Legislature this session.
The bill from Sen. Mike Cierpiot, a Republican from Lee’s Summit, Mo., would create a new 100 percent state tax credit program capped at $25 million per year for contributions to the “Show Me a Brighter Future Scholarship Fund.” Taxpayers and corporations could make donations to the fund — but not to any individual student — and income-eligible families could receive scholarships for private school tuition and other educational expenses, such as books, therapy and transportation.
A similar bill to establish the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program was proposed last year by Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, but did not advance.
DeVos told the estimated 200 attendees that the federal version of the program would not hurt public school funding. “It doesn’t take a single dollar from public school students,” she said.
DeVos has championed school choice through charter schools and also advocates for public support of parochial schools. DeVos said federal education policy has become “insidious” because it has lost its focus on students. And, despite investing more than $1 trillion since the department was formed in the 1970s, there is little to show for that investment, she said.
“Government has never made anything better or cheaper,” DeVos said. “I know my job is to implement laws, not write new ones.”
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice