A Fantastic Example
The Post-Dispatch has a story today that I really hope garners a lot of attention. A private organization, the Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation, has collected $12 million to help hundreds of economically disadvantaged students get a better education. The Foundation will award scholarships to roughly 600 children in St. Louis families whose household income qualifies them for the federal free- and reduced-price meals program, allowing them to choose from among 34 private schools for their educational needs.
This kind of charitable effort represents the best in our society. The children who will benefit are currently being failed not only by a school system that lost its accreditation, but by the surrounding public school districts who are refusing to admit students from the city (at the request of St. Louis Public Schools). Where bureaucracy and petty politics are exacerbating the plight of these children, the generosity of private individuals is making an effort to fill the gap and meet at least a small part of the need that exists in this city.
It is also important to note that this sort of private charity is precisely what would be fostered by a tuition tax credit scholarship program. Under such a program, the state would recognize and promote the pro-social behavior represented by such charitable donations, offering limited tax relief for those who contribute to the educational welfare of children in their communities. The availability of such a credit would be especially beneficial, because it would make more people liable to donate to similar foundations and it would allow them to give more than they would otherwise be able to give. As we have remarked before, a tuition tax credit scholarship would be an excellent way for the state to encourage private citizens to invest in the success of their communities’ children.