Real School Choice Coming to Virginia?

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Legislative Momentum This Week for Tuition Tax Credit and Autism Scholarship Bills

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School choice has been tried and tested in more than a dozen states across the country, and it works for children, parents, businesses, and schools

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Promising to provide enhanced educational opportunities to disadvantaged students throughout Virginia, two school choice bills have picked up momentum in the House of Delegates. More information is available at http://www.schoolchoiceva.com.

Bills that would provide tax credits to businesses that help provide tuition scholarships to low- and middle-income children and create a statewide scholarship program for children with autism passed the House Appropriations Committee this week with bipartisan support. The bills are now headed to the floor of the House of Delegates.

HB 1965, the Education Investment Tax Credit, would reward--with tax credits--businesses and taxpayers that make donations to nonprofit organizations that help public schools, support homeschooling families, and provide scholarships so that low- and middle-income children can attend private schools.

This legislation--which would encourage economic growth and promote job creation--is modeled after popular programs in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. These programs have demonstrated high parental satisfaction, state cost savings, student achievement gains, and improvements to public schools.

HB 2104, the Students with Disabilities Tuition Assistance Grant Program, establishes a statewide scholarship program allowing parents of children with autism to send their children to nonpublic, nonreligious schools. Many districts already select out-of-district private placements for children with disabilities. This bill would put decision-making in the hands of parents. Similar programs are working effectively in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and Utah.

"School choice has been tried and tested in more than a dozen states across the country, and it works for children, parents, businesses, and schools," said Delegate Chris Saxman (R-Staunton), who supports the legislation. "It is past time for Virginia to enact meaningful legislation that empowers parents to choose the best educational environments for their children, and these bills accomplish that important goal."

To help promote the legislation, the nonprofit organization School Choice Virginia has established a new legislative action center on their Web site at http://www.schoolchoiceva.com.

Contact: Whitney Duff, School Choice Virginia, whitney (at) schoolchoiceva (dot) com; Phone 804-937-1064

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