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By Charlie Daniels | Feb. 7, 2022

Everyone knows this: No two kids are alike.

Less obvious, but equally true: no two schools are alike either, and there’s not a single school – not even the “best” one – that’s perfect for every kid. But somewhere among the 1,900 schools in Oklahoma is the right school. It could be public, private, charter or virtual.

That’s why we have school choice, so parents can choose the school where their kids can realize their God-given potential. If that school is private, can you afford it?

Historically, we’ve always had school choice in Oklahoma – if you had money. But what if you didn’t? What then?

In 2011, the Oklahoma Legislature considered that question and passed the tax credit scholarship law to level the playing field a bit. Now if a lower-income parent wants to send his or her child to a private school, there’s a decent chance that he or she can get a scholarship.

The money comes from private donors who give to “scholarship granting organizations,” which then give scholarship money to private schools. Those donors then get tax credits against their state income tax. For a $1,000 donation, a taxpayer can shave $500 off his state tax bill. If the donor agrees to give $1,000 for two years in a row, that person will have their taxes reduced by $750 each year. Serious savings!

This is all private money. Not a dime comes from the state’s coffers. In fact, a study by two Ph.D economists shows that for every $1,000 in tax credits, the state saves $1,500.

This program benefits taxpayers who are wanting to lower their tax bills, parents who want to choose the best school for their kids, schools that want to offer financial help to low-income parents, and the state, which saves money in the process. This stretches “win-win” by two more wins.

Last spring, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a law that allows more donations for scholarships and for public schools, too. Most Republicans voted for it.

This year, a bill called the Oklahoma Empowerment Act would offer parents even greater help in choosing a school. It would involve state money, but it compliments the tax credit scholarship program. Parent choice will blossom, and all sorts of schools will spring up. It’s a great time to educate your child.

Charlie Daniels is vice president of the Opportunity Scholarship Fund.

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