Indiana Allows Greg to Once Again Put Mathews on the Canvass

April 30, 2015

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Indiana session has ended with both an increase in the size of the tax credit and separately an increase in the voucher program amounts. For those scoring at home:

AR: New special needs voucher

AZ corporate tax credit improvement

AZ expansion of ESA to tribal areas

Indiana- increase in corporate scholarship credit cap

Indiana-increase in voucher amounts

MS New ESA for special needs students

NV New corporate tax credit

TN New ESA for special needs students

Down goes Frazier Mathews!

P.S.

 


Florida ESA expansion receives unanimous House support

April 26, 2015

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

A bill to expand Florida’s Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts eligibility to children with muscular dystrophy and a wider array of the autism spectrum, and to include 3 and 4-year-old children otherwise eligible for special education services passed the Florida House of Representatives without a dissenting vote last week. The bill’s Senate companion also passed without dissent, and a large increase in the appropriation for the program is in the works, although just how large remains to be agreed upon. That increased funding will be needed given that parents have already begun 10,000 applications for next year, which outnumbers current participants by more than 5 to 1.

So far ESA programs have doubled from 2 to 4, with Mississippi and Tennessee joining the family, and we are waiting on word from Montana. The lawmakers in the states with the pre-existing programs have expanded eligibility in both. Bills in a number of other states remain in play. Delightfully, our experiment in ordered K-12 liberty continues to gain momentum.

Let’s see what happens next.

 

 


Tennessee lawmakers pass special needs ESA, East now leads West 3-2.

April 22, 2015

ESA maps

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Despite striking first in passing an account based choice program in Arizona and being joined by legislators in Montana, the East took the lead over the West 3 programs to 2 today as Tennessee lawmakers passed an new special needs ESA. Assuming an expected signature in Tennessee, East will lead West either 3-1 or 3-2 depending upon the decision of the Montana governor. Arizona was seen arguing bitterly with the referee that expanding the same program several times should count, but to no avail. Disgruntled West partisans have pinned their hopes for a 4th quarter comeback on Nevada and Missouri.

Congratulations to Tennessee’s sponsors and legislators and especially to the Beacon Center and a great collaborative effort of state based and national allies. This BOOOOOOOOOOOM is for you!

Who’s brave enough to guess the next state to pass an ESA measure?

Also I’ve lost count on the annual Greg vs. Mathews slaughter-fest on private choice enactments, but two enactments from AZ, one from Nevada thus far, one from Mississippi, one from Arkansas and now one from Tennessee. What am I forgetting? If that is all of them Greg is sitting pretty at six.


ESA Update

April 20, 2015

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Arizona lawmakers included children living on reservations. The Florida Senate unanimously passed an expansion of their Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts and the measure has bipartisan support in the Florida House. Also in Florida 10,000 applications for the program have been opened by parents, showing strong demand.

Mississippi lawmakers created the third ESA program, and lo and behold Montana lawmakers passed an ESA bill over the weekend.

Other proposals continue to move through legislative chambers. Our favorite primate may be developing a taste for food other than bananas.

UPDATE: Tennessee Senate passes special needs ESA 27-3, racing towards the finish in the TN House.


Raising the Bar on the Forster-Mathews Bet

April 1, 2015

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Thus far I am aware of a tax-credit improvements in Alabama and Arizona, new special education scholarship programs in Arkansas and Mississippi, and many other measures pending in many other states. I think it is safe to say that Greg will once again defeat Jay Mathews in the over/under of 7 enactments.

WSJ choice

 

While we celebrate yet another Greg victory, it may be a good time to pose a different question for ourselves: how many states have enacted a choice program or a combination of choice programs sufficiently robust to see a growth in private education in the face of a strong charter school law? A Rand Corp study found private schools will lose one student for every three gained by charter schools in Michigan.  We would not expect to find an exact match for this nationwide, but charter schools do by definition draw upon the universe of would-be choosers: parents who are looking for alternatives outside of their zoned district school. It makes sense that they would have a larger impact on private education.

If we assume the Michigan finding to be roughly equivalent to a national average, then we can proceed to check the tape. First charter school enrollment by state:

Charters school enrollment

Next private choice program enrollment by state (from the Alliance for School Choice Yearbook):

Private choice students 1

 

And…

Private choice students 2

So how many states have one-third or more as many private choice students as charter school students? Indiana is matching private choice students with charter school students despite a strong charter law thus far, and so is the leader in the clubhouse. Florida barely met the 1 private choice for 3 charter school students standard between the combination of the corporate tax credit program and the McKay Scholarship program. Without new revenue sources however growth in the Florida tax credit will stall in the next few years even as statewide student growth continues. Moreover Florida charter schools have almost certainly drawn a relatively advantaged group of students from private schools (charter schools have universal eligibility). The private choice programs have been aiding only low-income and children with disabilities and providing significantly fewer resources than those students receive in public schools (smaller tax credit scholarships in the case of low-income children, no local top-up funds in the case of McKay students).

Florida lawmakers have been busy improving the ability for high quality charter operators to open new schools (as they should) but balked last year at providing new tax credit revenue sources. Absent some large policy changes Florida will soon slip below the 1 to 3 ratio.

Iowa met the standard because of a healthy and growing tax credit program and a weak charter school law (3 total schools), so give them an *. Wisconsin meets the bar with the combination of private choice programs and a charter school program that (last I heard) is still bottled up in Milwaukee, so kind of an * too.

The Illinois and PA programs would require some sort of estimate regarding the price elasticity of demand for private schooling, but I’ll just heroically guess that charter schools have the better end of the deal in those states. Arizona and Ohio have more than three charter students for every private choice student. Other states like California, Michigan, New York and Texas seem content to watch their charter school sector batter their private school sectors into gravel.

Bear in mind that this comparison would look even more lopsided if we counted dollars rather than students. For instance the average tax credit scholarship in Arizona runs around $2,000 while the average charter school receives around $7,000 per pupil. Very few of the private choice programs come near to matching the per pupil level of subsidy provided to charter, much less district schools. Emblematic of this failure was the choice of 12 Catholic schools in Washington D.C. to give up the ghost and convert to charter schools after a (poorly designed) voucher bill had passed.

The goal of the private choice movement should not be to preserve a preexisting stock of private schools per se, but rather to allow parental demand to drive the supply of school seats. Those District of Columbia Catholic schools did not convert to charters because the parents were clamoring for it, but rather because the Congress had offered almost twice as much money per pupil to do it. States like Texas invest hundreds of millions of dollars per year into a charter sector that draws disproportionately from private schools while providing parents who would prefer a private education for their child nothing but the prospect of struggling to pay their school taxes and private school costs simultaneously.

Seen in this context, many private choice victories seem worthy but incremental. Incremental change is the equilibrium point of American politics, but the choice movement needs more Indiana style successes. Once more unto the breach dear friends…


AZ ESA applications close tomorrow

March 31, 2015

ESA

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The ESA application period for next year ends tomorrow in Arizona. Nice problem to have (image from the AZ Department of Education ESA page). H/T Kim Martinez, American Federation for Children.


Mississippi Legislature Passes Account Based Choice Program for Special Needs Students

March 26, 2015

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The Mississippi Senate concurred with the House special needs ESA bill today, sending the measure to the Governor, who is a strong supporter. Mississippi thus becomes the nation’s third state with an account based parental choice program. Special congratulations to the bill sponsors and tireless supporters for a successful two-year struggle, the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, Empower Mississippi and especially the parents who fought so hard for this legislation. Awesome team effort that paid off in the end.

!!BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!

Also today a special needs voucher  bill passed the Arkansas house 90-0.


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