Ga.’s private-school tuition program a classic bait and switch

102314_charter_deal_01Why do liberals distrust the so-called “school choice” movement, which claims to want to help low-income, often-minority students escape failing public schools? Who could argue with a goal like that?

Well, it’s pretty simple: They fear that conservatives might be playing a cynical game of bait and switch, with the plight of those poor kids in bad schools used as bait to win public support for vouchers and other programs. The real goal, they suspect, is to finance the movement of middle- and upper-class kids into tax-supported private schools, far away from the poor kids whom the programs are supposed to help.

The Georgia tuition tax-credit program, which in effect diverts tax money to pay private-school tuition, proves that suspicion justified.

In an earlier column, I wrote that the state of Georgia does not collect demographic data on the students who are granted such tax-financed scholarships. I was wrong. Thanks to a change in state law, the Department of Revenue now breaks Georgia households into four broad income levels, from the poorest 25 percent to the richest 25 percent, and releases data on how many scholarships are granted in each category.

The data are revealing.

Some student scholarship organizations (SSOs) do make an honest effort to help lower-income students. For example, the Georgia GOAL Scholarship Organization, the largest in the state, granted scholarships to 920 families in the lowest-earning quartile in 2013 and to 1,397 families in the second-lowest quartile.

It also issued 1,232 scholarships to families in the third income quartile, and 127 scholarships to families in the top-earning quartile. That’s more than 1,300 tax-funded scholarships to families making more than the statewide average. Two other major SSOs, Arete Scholarship Fund and SSO America, also gave a large share of scholarships to lower-income households.

But many other SSOs are clearly just mechanisms for steering badly needed state tax dollars to already affluent families:

  • The Peach State Christian Scholarship Fund gave zero scholarships to poor families. It gave 28 scholarships to families in the highest-earning quartile.
  • Vision SSO gave zero scholarships to families in either of the two lowest-earning quartiles, but 49 to families in the highest-earning quartile.
  • Great SSO gave zero scholarships to poor families, but 33 to those in the top-earning bracket.
  • Georgia Tuition Aid Providers Inc. gave scholarships to two families in the poorest quartile; it gave scholarships to 70 families in the highest quartile.
  • An agency called “A Pay It Forward Scholarship” issued scholarships to 18 families in the lowest-earning quartile, but 419 scholarships to families in the highest-earning quartile.
  • The ALEF Fund issued scholarships to 12 families in the lowest bracket, but 158 to families in the highest bracket.
  • Faith First Georgia, which lists state Rep. Earl Ehrhart as its chief executive officer, granted scholarships to 35 families in the lowest-earning quartile and 173 to those in the highest-earning quartile. (Ehrhart has been a chief proponent of expanding the program.)
  • The Georgia Student Scholarship Organization granted scholarships to 42 families in the lowest income quartile. It gave scholarships to 684 families in the highest quartile.

Other states with such programs often set income eligibility limits to ensure that the tax revenue goes to those in need, for example restricting it to those who qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch or who fall under some percentage of the federal poverty level. Georgia sets no such standards.

As a result, a total of 1,706 scholarships were granted in 2013 to families in the lowest income quartile, while 2,248 were granted to families in the highest income quartile. I’d say that’s evidence the program isn’t working as designed, except that it’s working exactly as designed.

—————-

Note: This blog post, a version of today’s AJC column, incorporates material that had been posted earlier as an update to another blog post on the topic.

Reader Comments 0

831 comments
ConcernedParent2015
ConcernedParent2015

Regarding Jay Bookman's article entitled "Ga.s private-school tuition program is a classic bait and switch",

The GOAL scholarship program is a wonderful program, hence its popularity and the requests to increase the cap for it.  In addition to charter schools, is one of the first steps toward school choice in Georgia.

Why should parents be forced to send their children to a school simply based on their zip code?  What Mr. Bookman and other liberals do not mention is that when parents send their children to a private school, it frees up a seat in the public/government school system.  These private school parents still pay real estate and other taxes that go to support our lackluster public/government school system.

Giving parents a $1K-$3K GOAL , yes, even middle-income families, scholarships to help them offset the cost of private school is cheaper than what the state would spend to educate that same child in the public/government school system.

Add up what the state and fed spends per student per year on "education," and it a bit more than the average cost of private school tuition.

What if parents had those funds to use to send their children to a school of their chosing?  Free market economic would start to work and failing schools would go by the wayside.

Such a lack of understanding of basic economics and true support of what's best for our children is really concerning.  Please remember how the AJC has always painted charter schools in a negative light. 

Spending more taxpayers money to improve our state's education system hasn't really worked, so it great implementation of different ideas that do work.

Bulls_3y3
Bulls_3y3

Breakfast of champions: Lame Duck

tireOfIt
tireOfIt

What does the Gop and God have in common...  They never admit their mistakes.

Lynn43
Lynn43

@tireOfIt What does the GOP and God have in common?  The GOP thinks they are one and the same.

KUTGF
KUTGF

Boehner wants to be SoS "No" leader sheetz

Normd
Normd

The bottom line here is that if you privatize schools, the poor will no longer get an even break for their kids education.  That is the unfairness of it all.  A good and free education for all American kids is the only answer.

LeninTime
LeninTime

"Holder does a much better job sending guns to Mexico."

Wow. This is what I call rube logic.

Here Eric Holder has seen through exactly the result that this individual claims to think was the right one: no further hassling of the officer Darren Wilson.

And yet, he attributes zero agency to Holder. As though Eric Holder was simply a hapless bystander to the workings of the very Justice Department he leads!! 

Yet somehow when it comes to other programs said individual disapproves of - guns to Mexico - he attributes complete agency and responsibility to Holder.

It makes zero sense. 

But in the rube mind - if you can call it a mind - it all works out in the end. The commie plot is staved off, for now.

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

Jay Bookman writes:

 Why do liberals distrust the so-called “school choice” movement, which claims to want to help low-income, often-minority students escape failing public schools? Who could argue with a goal like that?

Well, it’s pretty simple: They fear that conservatives might be playing a cynical game of bait and switch, with the plight of those poor kids in bad schools used as bait to win public support for vouchers and other programs. The real goal, they suspect, is to finance the movement of middle- and upper-class kids into tax-supported private schools, far away from the poor kids whom the programs are supposed to help.

-------------------------------------

OUTRIGHT LIES

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/18/obama-dc-voucher-program_n_1606981.html

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

With Huffpost's leftist bias, you have to read pretty deep before you realize that vouchers are the way to go, that bamster has quietly agreed with the angry citizens of DC (whom he was going to stiff by cancelling the program they like) that funding for vouchers is a great idea.

Anyway, Mr. Bookman fails to make the easy connection that successful schools will help kids be successful, at which point they won't be counted as "poor" anymore. The truth about leftists is that they need the needy to need leftists who continue to make empty promises about "redistribution".

Normd
Normd

@Yes_Jesus_Can 


If I'm not mistaken, that Huff Puff blurb is about District of Columbia schools...so what does that have to do with Georgia schools...

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@SFM_Scootter @Yes_Jesus_Can 

People will always complain about such things.  We might also look at say, the elite Ivy Leagues and their economic "fairness" if you will.  They do no better than public schools.  You could make the case that even Harvard is far worse than this tuition voucher program, which it is. 

Harvard is a leftist ally, and so you won't hear about its much larger preference for say, african americans who have dough. 

DebbieDoRight
DebbieDoRight

@Normd @Yes_Jesus_Can --  It has NOTHING to do with Georgia schools.  It's just that YJC needed something to say and couldn't think of anything else.  Typical.

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@DebbieDoRight @Normd @Yes_Jesus_Can 

It's the usual pathology.  Leftists miss the forest for a tree that isn't even there.  They will follow a lie to ruin without any evidence it is a problem. 

If the state had intended to use means testing for these vouchers than it could have done so.  It did not, and yet the fact remains that the program is helping lots of poor kids who otherwise would not be helped--no switch. 

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@DebbieDoRight @Normd 

First quartile: Up to $13,519

Second quartile: From $13,520 to $29,458

Third quartile: From $29,459 to $62,201

Fourth quartile: $62,202 and above

Above are the quartiles.  Jay talks ONLY about the first, which is bare bones poverty (excepting assistance programs, which are not counted), and the fourth really isn't all that much--certainly not enough to afford unassisted private school. 

Any leftists really have a problem with a family in the second or third quartile earning one of these scholarships.  Look at Bookman's own article for the link.  Most recipients' parents make between 13 and 29 a year.  HARDLY a crisis, Bookman, you liar! 

SFM_Scootter
SFM_Scootter

@Yes_Jesus_Can If those promises are so empty why are some folks complaining about "moochers" getting to much?

JustSomeThoughts
JustSomeThoughts

@Yes_Jesus_Can You make an excellent point which further reveals that "leftists" and "right-wingers" are essentially in the same bed with one another.  They all have the same monetary and political goals, just take two different approaches in getting there.  And yea we fight each other about whose team is better...the blue Donkeys or the red Elephants

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

When considering this particular issue, consider as well just how much hay has been made by your conservative brethren over the years about the (allegedly) more "generous" conservatives, who supposedly tend to contribute more to charity than left-leaners.

And recall where the lion's share of those charitable contributions from the right tend to go.

This program is of a part of that same mindset. It allows wealthier conservatives to claim to be concerned about the worse-off, while (as always) making things better for themselves.

SimpleTruths
SimpleTruths

"Well, it’s pretty simple: They fear"

Libs on this board claim it's conservatives who are the fear mongers.  This post disproves that argument.

kayaker71
kayaker71

Ferguson was never about the guilt or innocence of Darren Wilson.  It was about race and nothing else.  Holder went to Ferguson for just one day to show his and Bozos "solidarity" for those poor people in Ferguson, you know, to give them hope that this terrible white injustice was done by a guilty white police officer.  Grand jury had other ideas.  Holder does a much better job sending guns to Mexico. 

LeninTime
LeninTime

@kayaker71

Wrong.

The Darren Wilson case, while certainly involving the issue of race, is not even principally about race at all, despite all the fantasies of the racists.

The Darren Wilson case is about the government giving its armed agents license to violate the law with impunity, in effect giving them carte blanche to kill without fear of legal repercussions. 

The government is doing this because it is slowly erecting the elements of a police state, and the ability of government agents (police officers) to summarily execute anyone they deem a threat, or even a slight bother, is seen as a necessary tactic in that process.

KUTGF
KUTGF

@kayaker71  You forgot IRS and Benghanzi in your childish foolishness.

LeninTime
LeninTime

Oh I see that one of the rubes did make a vague attempt to engage on the issue below.

But, being the rube that they are, they of course proceed to miss the point.

"Looks like when you let the damn system work as it should, the results are usually correct"

Um, the Obama administration sits atop the system, it heads it and can steer it as it sees fit.

Soooooo, it's not just a matter of the system working 'as it should' here. 

It's working exactly the way the Obama people want it to work.

In other words, all your racist fantasies about Obama, Holder, Sharpton et al. having this big plan to malign and persecute cops were a complete joke, as I pointed out repeatedly throughout. 

They haven't the slightest intention of doing that and never have. 

LeninTime
LeninTime

I mean, if Barack Obama were a crypto-revolutionary, seething with anti-colonial hatred of the white man's cruelties, you wouldn't see him simply yawn at such a golden opportunity to launch his attack as the Darren Wilson case - now would you? 

Come on, rubes, engage. What do you think of this? 

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

KUTGF: “Some Republicans worried that the 20-week abortion measure might alienate millennials and female voters. But many female lawmakers were also furious over its clause stating that women can be exempt from the ban in cases of rape only if they reported the rape to authorities.”

But the bill also had drawn flak from Georgia Right to Life, which had opposed it for allowing for exceptions for rape and incest at all. GRTL split from National Right to Lifeafter the two feuded over the 2013 version of the U.S. House fetal pain bill.


How did you get the text highlighted??? 


Oh, and "fetal pain" bills that are based more on religion than science should be voted "no".  And any legislation that wants to reduce abortions should include free contraceptives. 

Gale_
Gale_

@Visual_Cortex @LogicalDude The problems with the rape and incest exceptions are that most rapes are not reported and most incest problems are hidden by families.  And the issue of fetal defects is a painful reality that they simply ignore.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@LogicalDude

Of course the exception stuff is just a smokescreen. Highly doubtful that a lot of pregnancies that are the result of rape would be falling into that gestational category.

What nobody seems interested in discussing--beyond the criminalization stuff, which I've already complained about, and will continue to--is why such later-term abortions are done in the first place. It's not like women typically say "ya know, I changed my mind, four months in. Turns out I don't want a baby after all."

It's the stage at which some profound birth defects are sometimes identified, and (typically) terrible choices have to be made.

Not that any of the GOPers blithely "debating" this stuff seem to care.

KUTGF
KUTGF

@Gale_  Well once the fetus comes out, its got bootstrap work to do and its not "our problem". 

Doggone_GA
Doggone_GA

@Visual_Cortex @LogicalDude
 "why such later-term abortions are done in the first place"

Have you ever seen the show "I didn't know I was pregnent"?

There are a lot of reasons why a woman might not know she was pregnent...and remember too, the bill is to criminalize abortions AFTER 20 weeks...that means from them on.  As you pointed out, there might be developmental or genetic issues the come up after that limit that makes an abortion a viable option.

Also, there might be health issues that crop up that are dangerous to the woman's health if the pregnancy continues.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Doggone_GA @Visual_Cortex @LogicalDude

Have you ever seen the show "I didn't know I was pregnent"?

No I have not, but I'm certainly aware of this phenomenon, and yes, I realize that some later-term abortions are of heretofore undetected pregnancies. I shouldn't have posted as if this never happens--of course it does, and in those cases, the rape/incest exceptions are more than just a smokescreen.

So, my apologies if I came off as unconcerned about such cases.

KUTGF
KUTGF

@LogicalDude  Wish I knew how it gets highlighted on a cut and paste from another AJC story. 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@KUTGF @LogicalDude

When you copy/paste from an html formatted page like that, if there's a linked item, generally the link comes along for the ride.

That's how some here just post headlines with links embedded. Looks a lot nicer than http://www.swejqr;klwqej;leqwrj;ljwerq.890324890.fdasj;fdjsa;.com ...

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

@LeninTime FBI clears officers of wrongdoing in egregious arrest tactics

often. It's what they do.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@LeninTime

Folks who, I imagine, you believe to be "rubes" don't tend to get that kind of snark, but I appreciate your efforts to enlighten as always.

lvg
lvg

Another part of the continuing GOP circus under the gold dome while Deal and the cons race to the bottom in education, unemployment , health care etc.

MiltonMan
MiltonMan

Good to see the image used by Jay has the one token white kid sitting all the way in the back.

CommonSenseisntCommon
CommonSenseisntCommon

@MiltonMan 

The bill was presented as a chance for low income families to get their kids out of failing public schools. The results don't totally represent that.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@MiltonMan

Do you take Kyle to task for having used similar imagery in his multiple stories praising such programs?

LordHelpUs
LordHelpUs

@MiltonMan Yeah, another example of how us white folk are discriminated against, huh?  

Hilarious how I see cons whine about the 'grievance industry' while wallowing in grievance themselves...you effers are a hoot...