National School Choice Week 2016
Despite the cancellation of several events due to snow, Agudath Israel and the school communities it represents, participated in many National School Choice Week celebrations across the country.
Indiana has the largest statewide voucher program in the country and more than 1000 advocates celebrated that accomplishment in the Statehouse on Monday. The annual Quality of Education Celebration was hosted by the Institute for Quality Education and cosponsored by Agudath Israel of America and other organizations. Speaking at the event, Governor Mike Pence credited the members of the General Assembly for repeatedly passing education reforms over the last decade making Indiana a national school choice leader.
Indiana’s voucher and tax credit programs generate close to $1 million annually for students choosing Jewish day schools. Students, staff and board members from Hasten Hebrew Academy of Indianapolis and South Bend Hebrew Day School participated in the rally and met with Governor Pence and legislative leaders.
Nearly 2000 school choice supporters filled the Cashman Center in Las Vegas on Tuesday to celebrate National School Choice Week. The crowd included a group of students from Yeshiva Day School of Las Vegas. Nevada enacted two school choice laws in 2015, creating a scholarship tax credit and education savings account (ESA) programs. Unfortunately, opponents filed several lawsuits and prevented the ESA program from being implemented until the courts decide on the merits of the case.
On Wednesday, nearly 3000 students, parents, and supporters filled the Liberty Plaza across the street from Georgia State Capitol building. Speakers included Governor Nathan Deal, legislators from both political parties, parents and celebrities. Agudath Israel co-sponsored the rally and welcomed the participation of students and staff from several Jewish schools. Georgia has a $58 million scholarship tax credit program that helps more than 13,000 students attend private school each year including hundreds of students attending Jewish day schools. Unfortunately, the tax credit cap has not been raised in several years thus preventing more students from benefiting from this popular program. Speakers at the rally talked about bills to create education savings accounts in addition to the existing scholarship program.
National School Choice Week (January 24-30) is a positive and enthusiastic celebration of all educational options, including private, religious education. To learn more about school choice programs around the country download the latest copy of The ABC’s of School Choice recently published by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.