Illinois Enacts School Choice / Forster-Mathews Bet Update

(Guest Post by Jason Bedrick)

The big school choice news today is that Illinois has become the 18th state to enact a tax-credit scholarship program. Here’s the press release from EdChoice’s CEO, Robert Enlow:

This new program is an outstanding example of what happens when elected officials, advocates, state partners and community leaders work together on behalf of families. The Governor, lawmakers and local groups such as One Chance Illinois deserve credit for putting politics aside and students first.

We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Illinois to the school choice family, and we look forward to thousands of families having access to educational equity and options that previously were out of reach.

This is a good opportunity to revisit the famous bet JayBlog’s own Greg Forster made with Jay Mathews of the Washington Post.  Back in 2011, after Mathews had predicted that the school choice movement was basically spent, Forster challenged him:

Tell you what, Jay. Let’s make a bet. You say there won’t be “a wave of pro-voucher votes across the country”…[W]e’ll set a mutually agreed on bar for the number of voucher bills passing chambers this year. If we hit the bar, you have to buy me dinner at a Milwaukee restaurant of my choice. But if we don’t hit the bar, I buy you dinner at a DC restaurant of your choice. That’s pretty lopsided in your favor, dollar-wise. How about it?

They agreed that Forster would win if at least 10 legislative chambers passed bills in 2011 to create or expand a private school choice program. Greg has won that bet every year since, and this year is no exception. Below is the list of bills that were actually signed into law (or, in the case of Illinois, are about to be). Note that this list omits all the bills that passed one legislative chamber but either died in the other or haven’t been passed into law yet ([cough] New Hampshire! [cough cough]).

  • Arizona: expanded education savings account program to near-universal eligibility
  • Arkansas: expanded eligibility for voucher
  • Florida: expanded funding and eligibility for ESA, expanded funding for tax-credit scholarship program
  • Kansas: expanded eligibility to receive tax credits for donations to scholarship organizations to individual taxpayers in addition to corporate taxpayers
  • Illinois: new tax-credit scholarship program
  • Indiana: increased funding for tax-credit scholarship program
  • Maryland: increased funding for voucher program
  • Mississippi: expanded special-needs ESA
  • New Hampshire: new town tuitioning program
  • North Carolina: new special-needs ESA
  • Ohio: increased funding for Cleveland Scholarship Program, expands phase-in of Income-Based Scholarship Program another year
  • Oklahoma: expanded eligibility for special-needs voucher
  • South Carolina: increased funding for the tax-credit scholarship program
  • Tennessee: expanded eligibility for special-needs ESA

I think that calls for a GIF from Greg’s favorite movie:


UPDATE: Although it’s not a state, Patrick Wolf noted in the comments section below that Congress also re-re-authorized and expanded the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

5 Responses to Illinois Enacts School Choice / Forster-Mathews Bet Update

  1. Patrick Wolf says:

    Jason, you left out that the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program was re-re-authorized and expanded by granting access to wait-listed students, and all that right in Mr. Mathews’ own sandbox!

    • Jason Bedrick says:

      Good point. Not sure whether Greg and Jay Mathews included Congress in their bet, but I’ll add it!

      • Greg Forster says:

        Terms of the bet are in the post you linked. It refers to “legislative chambers.” So Congress is included.

  2. Greg Forster says:

    Pop culture reference D-

    Trolling A+

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