Parental Choice in Education Legislation Gains Momentum

| May 20, 2011 | 0 Comments

Minnesota Catholic Bishops’ support of parental choice in education legislation is rooted in the principle, grounded in Catholic social teaching, that the family is the central social institution, and that parents are primarily responsible for equipping their children with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in life.

The Minnesota Catholic Conference supports two parental choice bills that hopefully will soon be sent to Governor Dayton for his consideration.

The enrollment-options scholarship program in the Omnibus Education Finance bill (HF 934) is a limited scholarship program for families of modest means. To qualify, a low-income family must be enrolled in a persistently under-performing public school in a city of the first class (i.e., Minneapolis, St. Paul,Rochester and Duluth). Under this program, a student is awarded a scholarship based on the average per pupil revenue or the cost of private school tuition, whichever is the lesser amount. A student’s parent or guardian would receive the scholarship check and endorse it to a participating private school, thus avoiding any entanglement between Church and State. Private school participation in the program
is voluntary.

The second measure, contained in Senate language of the Omnibus Tax Bill (HF 42), would add private-school tuition as an eligible credit to the Minnesota K-12 Education Tax Credit and Subtraction program. Under this measure, low-income families would receive a 75% tax credit or refund of up to $1,000 per child for tuition paid to a private K-12 school.

If either, or hopefully both, of these measures become law Minnesota parents and students will be the beneficiaries of enhance access to the full-array of quality educational programs.

Political institutions should craft just and fair legislation, providing access to basic necessities, such as a quality education of the parents choosing. While not a panacea, parental choice in education programs move in the direction of promoting social and economic justice.

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Category: Faith in the Public Arena