Home » Issues » Choice & Charter Schools » Will Massachusetts Be Next?

Will Massachusetts Be Next?

In a thoughtful opinion piece for The Boston Globe, CATO’s Jason Bedrick and Ken Ardon of Salem State University propose an educational tax credit scholarship program for low-income students in Massachusetts.

According to CER’s Education Tax Credit Scholarships Ranking & Scorecard 2014, only 14 states currently have tax credit scholarship programs on the books, Massachusetts not being one of them. Should the Bay State decide to pursue this school choice avenue, it would be the eighth state to enact a tax credit scholarship program in just the last three years alone.

Even with so few states, tax credit scholarships are used nationwide by approximately 190,000 students, second only to charter schools in terms of student enrollment in a school choice program.

Tax credit-funded scholarships are fueled by private, voluntary contributions from individuals and businesses, which in turn go towards scholarships that help students attend the school of their choice. Those individuals and businesses are then able to claim a credit against their tax bill for donations.

The strongest programs tend to have broad student eligibility requirements, increased funding to maximize availability, preserve private school autonomy and include automatic escalator clauses to meet growing demand each year.

Similar to other states, demand for school choice in Massachusetts is remarkably high. While only 14 states have tax credit scholarships available, it remains to be seen whether more will follow suit to expand access to more educational opportunities for students in need.