The school choice efforts of Pennsylvania’s Catholics were featured in Catholic Education Daily:
Pennsylvania has two tax credit programs, and was the first state “to create a groundbreaking program that empowers parents to choose the school they believe is best for their children,” Amy Hill, director of communications for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, told the Newman Society.
Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program was established in 2001, and “provides businesses with a tax credit for donating to nonprofit scholarship or educational improvement organizations,” said Hill. Under the EITC, students from families with eligible incomes can apply for scholarships to aid tuition costs for non-public schools. In 2012, the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) program was also established to expand the number of scholarships for students, particularly those living within the district boundaries of low-achieving public schools.
Hill shared that the Conference is continuing to lobby for increased funding to the state’s two tax credit programs. “Each year there is a waiting list of companies that wish to donate,” said Hill. “The demand for tax credits is high and so is the demand for scholarships.” The Conference is also currently pursuing legislation “to create grants for pre-K students that could be used at private or religious pre-schools, and a program that could help children with special needs attend the school of their choice.”
In November, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia urged legislators to approve corporate tax credits to increase scholarships for low-income students attending Catholic and private schools for the 2016-17 academic year. These credits “assist many thousands of needy children … by enabling Pennsylvania businesses to donate to qualified scholarship organizations,” Archbishop Chaput reportedly stated.
The impact that these programs have on Catholic education is not negligible, Hill shared. “Parents have the duty and responsibility to provide the best education possible for their children. Catholic school may not be the right choice for every family, but we can attest that EITC and OSTC has helped many students choose a Catholic education,” said Hill. “More students in our classrooms is good news for our schools; more students will help keep Catholic schools vibrant and available to more families.”