Tax credits give students opportunities to succeed

Charles Leis
Charles Leis

Since 1995, the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) has worked tirelessly in our community to make a Catholic education available to anyone who wants it and has a demonstrated financial need as determined by a third party application.

And while CEF has been successful and continues to grow their network of support, the need for financial assistance continues to outgrow the available funds.

EdChoice Kentucky, a nonpartisan coalition, is aiming to help fill the need by calling for Scholarship Tax Credits in Kentucky. Under this program, individuals and businesses donate to scholarship-granting organizations, like the CEF, and receive a non-refundable tax credit in return.

These organizations award needs-based scholarships for students to attend the nonpublic school that is the best fit for them. Scholarship Tax Credits incentivize giving to scholarship-granting organizations and dramatically increase scholarship funds for students.

As parents, we want the best for our children. We want them to have a safe home, eat well and have a solid education. For some children, a nonpublic school is the best fit. Those of us who have the financial means already have school choice; we can move to a new school district or pay tuition at a nonpublic school. Unfortunately, lack of financial resources can often get in the way of making that desire a reality for our neighbors.

For the future of our children and students, we must continue to find solutions and be proactive in giving all Kentucky students the opportunity to succeed. Scholarships, like the ones the CEF awards, make a substantial difference in educational opportunities for our students. Imagine if more families could have the opportunity to choose which school their child attends.

In neighboring states like Indiana and Ohio, students and parents already have a choice in their education. Seventeen states have scholarship tax credit programs, and results show that when students have choice, overall academic outcomes improve.

Since adopting a school-choice program, 14 studies found student improvement for those who participate in the programs. Thirty-one studies found choice improves academic outcomes in public schools. With proven results like these, it is imperative that we bring programs like scholarship tax credits to Kentucky.

As beneficiaries of our Catholic inheritance, we share an obligation to improve the lives of the neediest among us. Scholarship tax credits provide a clear mechanism to put our faith in action. On issues, like the education of our children, we must come together to pass scholarship tax credit legislation.

Legislation to bring a scholarship tax credit program to Kentucky has sponsors and supporters from both sides of the aisle in the Kentucky General Assembly. Last session, Democrat Rep. Tommy Thompson and Republican Sen. Ralph Alvarado led the charge for this legislation that can give all students opportunities to succeed.

You, too, can get involved in bringing education opportunities to all Kentucky students by signing up for our newsletter at edchoiceky.com, following us on Facebook (EdChoice Kentucky) and asking your legislator to pass scholarship tax credits.

Charles H. Leis is president of EdChoice Kentucky, serves on the board of the Catholic Education Foundation, and is the chief executive officer of Bramco.

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