Iowa Legislature Lines Up Another Enactment

June 30, 2011

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Last night, Iowa’s House and Senate passed a budget that expands funding for the state’s tax-credit scholarship program. If the governor signs, as expected, that will bring us to fifteen school choice enactments and officially put us not just at, but over the benchmark for Matt’s “double down challenge”  in my bet with Jay Mathews.

And from what I hear, the next question isn’t whether we’ll get to sixteen. The question is, which state will get to fifteen first, and which will have to settle for sixteen – or seventeen, or eighteen . . .

Louisiana Doubles Down

June 28, 2011

Sorry, I couldn’t find “Louisiana Hold ‘Em”

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Two Wisconsin enactments while I was travelling a week ago – expanding Milwaukee vouchers and creating a new voucher program in Racine – brought my ongoing humiliation of Jay Mathews to a total of 13 school choice enactments (new programs or expansions of existing programs). And that’s not even counting Oklahoma’s “expansion” of its special ed voucher program (the program was “expanded” to include students who were eligible to participate but were being illegally denied access by rogue school districts).

Governor Jindal just doubled us down by signing into law Lousiana’s expansion of its educational tax deduction, bringing us to 14 enactments on a bet that we wouldn’t reach seven.

Here’s the tally so far:

  1. UT Carson Smith expansion
  2. Douglas County, CO new voucher
  3. AZ new ESA
  4. DC voucher expansion
  5. IN new voucher
  6. IN new tax deduction
  7. IN tax-credit scholarship expansion
  8. OK new tax-credit scholarship
  9. FL tax-credit scholarship expansion
  10. FL McKay voucher expansion
  11. GA tax-credit scholarship expansion
  12. WI Milwaukee voucher expansion
  13. WI new Racine vouchers
  14. LA tax deduction expansion

Matt wants to know if there’s a mercy rule for wonk bets. As Ned Flanders once said, “Mercy is for the weak!”

Greg Continues to Run Up the Score on Jay Mathews

June 16, 2011

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Another day, another couple of style points for Greg. North Carolina’s legislature passed a tax credit for special needs students with an overwhelming bipartisan majority in each chamber. Down in Louisiana, lawmakers expanded the tax deduction for private school students, also by an overwhelming bipartisan margin.

Jay’s suffering is not done yet. Wisconsin is very near to expanding the size and scope of the Milwaukee program, and creating a new program in Racine, and there is more game to be played in Big-10 country.

Oklahoma “Expands” Its Special Ed Vouchers

June 6, 2011

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

I missed this when it was signed into law a couple weeks ago, because it’s not what you traditionally think of as “expanding” a school choice program. But in addition to its new school choice program, Oklahoma has (ahem) “expanded” its existing voucher program for special needs students:

House Bill 1744 by State Rep. Jason Nelson (R-Oklahoma City) and State Sen. Patrick Anderson (R-Enid) changes the law so school districts will no longer administer the program. Instead, the Department of Education will administer it.

“Last year, several school districts failed to provide scholarships to eligible special needs students, flagrantly violating the law,” said Nelson. “Thanks to the modifications in this bill, the State Department of Education will administer the program rather than local school districts. This will provide consistency and certainty for students and parents who choose to participate in the program.”

Last year, lawmakers voted allow a student with a disability (such as those with Down syndrome or Autism) who has an individualized education program (IEP) to receive state-funded scholarships to attend a private school. The scholarships come from the amount of money already designated for the education of those children.

After the program went into effect last August, several Tulsa-area schools voted to break the law, leading lawmakers to adjust the program this year. [ea]

A little bit like Eisenhower sending federal troops to “expand eligibility” for schools in Little Rock.

Does this bring me to twelve enactments in my bid to run up the score on poor Jay Mathews? Alas, no. In the set of definitions we agreed to for purposes of the bet, “expanding” a program means “increasing the eligible student pool, or increasing the amount of funds available to support the program (on either a per-student or global basis).” As I wrote to Mathews at the time: “That’s in your favor because I’m agreeing not to count, say, relaxation of burdensome restrictions on participating schools as an expansion.”

It also means sending in the cavalry to force the powers that be to obey the frikkin’ law also doesn’t count.

Stay tuned! The year’s not done yet…

Running Up the Score: Choice Goes to Eleven

May 20, 2011

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Matt Ladner’s awesomeness goes to eleven! And so does school choice with the expansion of Georgia’s tax-credit scholarship program making eleven school choice “enactments” this year.

Jay Mathews bet me we wouldn’t have seven enactments, and we now have eleven. Where do you think he’ll buy me dinner?

Running Up the Score: Make That Ten

May 20, 2011

Thou shalt not dismiss the viability of school choice!

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Earlier this week I celebrated the Oklahoma Eight Ball, the first school choice program passed after the Indiana Triple Play gave me the seven enactments (new or expanded programs) needed to win my bet with Jay Mathews.

Or so I thought! Somehow I missed the Florida Twofer. Florida expanded funds available for its tax-credit scholarship program and made a larger population of students eligible for the McKay voucher program for special needs students(thus expanding the total size of the program because McKay has no cap on total participation).

That puts my score at ten out of seven.

At least six states are still in play according to my sources: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Jersey, and South Carolina.

Time to Run Up the Score

May 17, 2011

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

The Indiana Triple Play put me over the top for a total of seven school choice “enactments” this year, winning my bet with Jay Mathews on whether school choice is politically viable. So what comes next?

Now is the time on Jay P. Greene’s Blog when we run up the score!

Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to the Oklahoma Eight Ball:

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin today signed into law the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act, which will provide tax credits to individuals and businesses that donate to nonprofits that distribute private-school scholarships to eligible families.

“This legislation is another victory in a year of nationwide progress toward the goal of giving families access to effective educational options for their children,” Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Foundation for Educational Choice, said. “More parents now will have the power to choose the best education for their children. Most importantly, more children will have the chance to receive an education that prepares them for success in life.”

Nine more states – nine! – remain in play for possible enactments this year.

Will Jay be spared the embarrassment of even more enactments? Ask the magic Oklahoma Eight Ball: