Congress might be distracted with other matters at the moment, but Agudath Israel’s work on behalf of the community must continue unabated.
As the nation focuses on School Choice Week, we are excited by a legislative proposal entitled the “Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act,” which was introduced in the Senate as S. 634 by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and the House as H.R. 1434 by Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL).
We need you to urge your elected officials to co-sponsor and support these bills.
This is the Trump Administration’s signature “school choice” bill which is championed by US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Agudath Israel has worked closely with the White House, the U.S. Department of Education, congressional sponsors, and other groups, in crafting legislation that benefits families that utilize public, private and faith-based education, while protecting the participation and rights of religious schools.
It works like this: Donors – individuals and businesses – that contribute to nonprofit Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) will receive a dollar-for-dollar, federal tax credit (not a deduction). If you give $1000, you get $1000 off of your tax bill.
The money is then distributed by the SGOs to eligible students. This is a $5 billion annual program and these scholarships have the potential of expanding student access to all educational opportunities — including public, private, and religious – as well as to a variety of services – including special education, career and technical education, apprenticeships and transportation.
There are currently eighteen states that have state tax credit programs and we are working hard in key states to expand that number. We are confident that once this legislation is passed, other states will see the clear benefits it affords their schoolchildren and set up their own programs. The legislation does not specify the amount of each scholarship, but one state that recently passed such a bill, provided grants of more than $13,000 per student.
But I’ll be honest. It will be an uphill battle in the current 116th Congress. So we need everyone to urge their representatives and senators to cosponsor and support H.R. 1434 and S. 634, respectively. The Administration is supporting a helpful school choice bill that is currently being considered by Congress – it is a unique opportunity that deserves a strong push by our community. The more co-sponsors, the better chance of passage.
By filling out your contact information above, a pre-populated email (which I hope you will take an extra moment to personalize) will be prepared to send to your elected officials. Ask them to support education freedom scholarships. Once you send the email, if you are able to take another few minutes, the next screen will provide talking points that will appear along with the phone numbers of your elected officials. Call and ask them to support education freedom.
To find out which members of Congress already co-sponsored the bill see here:
Rabbi Abba Cohen
Vice President for Government Affairs and Washington Director and Counsel
Agudath Israel of America