Letter to the Editor: Supporting expansion of tax credit caps for Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship program
By Sen. Gary Stanislawski, Tulsa A recent column by Alberto Morejon suggested Oklahoma’s Equal Opportunity…
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
OSF donors can help Vera Poore, too
BY CHARLIE DANIELS
This is the story of two kids, one rich, one poor. Both went to the public school assigned to them by their street address. However, one size does not fit all. The assigned school fit neither the rich kid nor the poor kid. The rich kid (named Ritchie Wellborne) was bright but shy. The poor kid (Vera Poore) was even brighter than Ritchie, but she wore threadbare clothes. Both were picked on.
Finally, Ritchie’s parents had enough, and stumped up the tuition to a private school called Choice School, where bright students were welcomed and not picked on. Vera’s parents wanted to do the same, but though they liked the school, they couldn’t afford it. Ritchie fit right in at Choice School, but Mr. Wellborne, a thoughtful man, wondered how less affluent kids could share the same benefits as his son. Then Choice School’s principal, Mrs. Goode, told him the school had just signed up with the Opportunity Scholarship Fund, an organization created to give scholarships to low-income kids. She explained that he could help level the playing field for those low-income kids and get tax credits through donations. The tax-savvy Mr. Wellborne listened attentively. “You mean,” he said, “that I could give up to $2,000 to this OSF and get a 50 percent tax credit?” Mrs. Goode nodded. “And you and Mrs. Wellborne together can give $4,000 and get a $2,000 credit. Just be sure to designate that your donation goes for Choice School. Oh, and by the way, Mr. Wellborne, you own a business, don’t you?” “I sure do,” said Mr. Wellborne. “My company makes top quality frammis widgets. We ship them all over the world:’ “Well,” said Mrs. Goode, “your business can contribute up to $200,000 to OSF and get a tax credit of $100,000.” Mr. Wellborne whistled. “I’m paying a ton in state income tax,” he said. “That credit would sure help. And it would help your school, too, Mrs. Goode,” he beamed. Mrs. Goode beamed back.
And so it came to pass that Mr. Wellborne’s Frammis Widget Co. donated $200,000 to OSF, designating Choice School as the beneficiary. On hearing this, Mrs. Goode performed a brief but energetic chicken dance in the school office, alarming the attendance clerk. Meanwhile, gloom pervaded the Poore household until Mrs. Goode called to tell them about how OSF might be able to help Vera. “But Mrs. Goode,” Vera’s parents said, “we’ve never even heard of this OSF. What is it?” “Our Legislature authorized the creation of Scholarship Granting Organizations — we call them SGOs,” Mrs. Goode said. “They give scholarships to kids like Vera. There are two SGOs for the Catholic schools: Go for Catholic Schools in Tulsa and the Catholic Schools Opportunity Fund in Oklahoma City. Then there’s OSF for all the other accredited private schools, like Choice School. You said you like our school, so I’m calling to say that OSF might be able to help.”
“We certainly like your school, but we can’t afford your tuition,” the Poores said. “You might be able to now,” said Mrs. Goode. “A company has just put some serious money into OSF for us. Come fill out an application. We’ll send it to OSF and see what happens.” Vera’s parents raced to the school and filled out the applica-tion, which the school sent off to OSF. OSF approved it and sent back a check covering much of the tuition. Vera got in and the Poore household rejoiced. Low-income parents, accred-ited private schools and donors now you can write your happy ending. Check out OSF at OSFkids.org to see how.
Charlie Daniels, a former member of the Bartlesville School Board, is vice president of the Opportunity Scholarship Fund.