In Georgia, taxpayers who want to help low-income students afford private school tuition are enticed by more than just an appeal to their good will. On its website, Whitefield Academy, a “Christ-centered” preparatory school in the suburbs west of Atlanta, tells donors, “You actually stand to make money on this program.”
The Wood Acres School, 25 minutes north of Whitefield, advertises that donors can “profit up to 29 percent” on their donation.
And Pay It Forward Scholarships, an organization that doles out grants under Georgia’s tax credit program, counsels, “You will end with more money than when you started, and you will be helping students receive a good education.”
AASA, the association of the nation’s public school superintendents, released an exhaustive report Wednesday on tax credit scholarship programs like Georgia’s, which allow donors to piggyback on state and federal tax breaks — often to turn a profit.
The superintendents warned that the tax credits could go national as the Trump administration pushes a federal voucher program for private schools.
The report is a shot across the bow from public educators to the White House as the president and Congress tackle twin legislative efforts with broad ramifications for education: a federally financed school choice program aimed at promoting private and parochial options for public school students, and a rewrite of the tax code ostensibly to lower tax rates and close loopholes.
The superintendents’ association ardently opposes school vouchers, saying they take taxpayer resources from public education to finance unaccountable private schools. The report adds a new wrinkle: Funding for those vouchers is helping the rich get richer.
“What we found was really shocking,” said Sasha Pudelski, assistant director of policy and advocacy at AASA, who was an author of the report. “The net result is less money flowing into public schools.”
AASA and the liberal-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy examined programs in 17 states that send more than $1 billion a year to private schools via tuition tax credits, and concluded that private schools were benefiting from a “federally sanctioned voucher tax shelter” for wealthy taxpayers.
The study called it a “get-rich scheme for shrewd taxpayers.”
You can read the rest at the New York Times.