Senator Ralph Alvarado (R - Winchester) pre-filed a bill to expand the educational opportunities and resources available to over 400,000 students across Kentucky.
Education Opportunity Accounts (EOA's) offer families the flexibility to customize their children's education. The spending accounts which would be funded through tax credits can be used by both public and non-public school students for a variety of resources such as tuition, tutoring, and technical education.
This bill is focused on helping all students have a brighter educational future no matter where they go to school. Of course, opponents have already started attacking the bill. Therefore, we feel that it's necessary to dispel two big myths presented in the Courier-Journal article.
MYTH #1: Education Opportunity Accounts divert "millions of tax dollars away from our already underfunded public schools."
TRUTH: Per pupil funding for students in public schools actually increases under Education Opportunity Accounts.
We're not going to dive deep into the union's claim that public schools are underfunded as that can be found elsewhere.
Quickly stated, the facts are that the state spends more than $14,000 per student each year. The Jefferson County Public School district spends more than $17,000 per student and just raised property taxes by 9.5%. We will let you draw your own conclusions.
However, the reality of school choice is that when a student chooses to go to a private school, the state saves money. With EOA's, that money is re-invested in the public school students by allowing them to use the funds for services such as tutoring, summer enrichment programs, or even monitoring during NTI.
When the president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association Brent McKim says that this bill doesn't help public school students, he's ignoring the facts. Instead, he's proving that the teachers unions only care about protecting their monopoly on education -- not increasing resources for their students.
MYTH #2: Education Opportunity Accounts only "end up serving relatively well-off families."
TRUTH: Eligibility is limited to families earning less than a modest income threshold. Low income families are prioritized.
Anna Baumann who is the director of the left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy says that this bill is too generous because it includes 70% of all Kentuckians. However, the reality is that families are only eligible if they earn less than 200% of the federally reduced-lunch income threshold. For a family of four, this would equal $96,940. To put it in perspective, if that family includes a police officer and a teacher, the family would make too much to qualify for an EOA. Therefore, if Ms. Baumann stands by her statement, then she also believes that teachers and other civil servants make way too much money already.
We think that her position is callous and judgmental. Instead, we believe educational choice should be universal by allowing tax dollars to follow the student.