House Bill 217 has passed the House and is now in the Senate for consideration. It seems to me that the legislators are again trying to support private schools with state tax dollars. Before we increase tax credits to individuals and corporations from $58 million to $100 million, let's look at the record of student performance in students who have already been using this tax credit.
Is there data to support that these students have improved their performance? No.
Did the current students attend "low performing schools," prior to switching to a private school? No data available.
Are these students identified as those from low income families or affluent? Who knows?
Where do these students reside: urban areas, suburban or rural? No data.
No one can argue that helping students perform better should be a goal for all Georgians. However, should we not analyze data to see how the current tax credits given are impacting student performance? To my understanding, there does not seem to be any data at all.
If the state legislators want to improve the lot for students in lower performing schools (and who doesn't), why not invest in those schools by providing similar funding for them to utilize research-based approaches that have worked elsewhere? Why not allow them to extend their school year; offer summer and after school academic support; loosen school choice options. School districts can improve their students' performance if given the freedom to implement new and proven approaches. Adding tax credits of $42 million over time to fund private schools seems like an unnecessary shift of our tax dollars that could be better spent supporting our own public schools. Our state senators should vote no on HB 217.