By Mike Klein
The word is out: Georgia should expand its incredibly successful but seriously underfunded tax credit scholarship program that enables parents to select a private school education for their kids, in part funded by Georgians who contribute tax dollars to support educational choice.
Unfortunately, too few Georgia parents have choice because the program is capped at $58 million. Applications for next year credits hit the limit in January. An effort to increase the tax cap limit fizzled in this year’s Legislature.
“I work in an area that is all about opportunity and attainment of the American Dream,” says Lisa Kelly, co-founder and President of the Georgia GOAL Scholarship Program. Kelly spoke at the Policy Foundation’s 2014 Annual Dinner. For Kelly and her husband Jim school choice was always about personal choice as they raised two daughters.
“We like parents everywhere had to navigate the increasingly complex and sometimes troubling world of K-through-12 education. After several years in public schools we actually moved our daughters to private Christian schools,” Kelly said. “We worked like crazy to pay the tuition and it was a definite sacrifice. We were always so incredibly grateful that we could select what we felt were the best schools for our daughters.”
Lisa Kelly left a successful corporate career after Georgia enacted a tax credit scholarship law in 2008. Georgia GOAL is the largest organization of its kind and at $88 million it has received about one-third of all statewide tax credit funds. GOAL has surpassed 36,000 direct tax credit contributions, enabling it to make 7,000 awards to students who attend 122 schools statewide. The average student family income is $25,500 and one-third of recipients are minority students.
Here is the video of Kelly’s remarks at our 2014 Policy Foundation Annual Dinner.
As an employer, and a parent and a graduate of Georgia public schools, I am pleased that the Foundation has undertaken this project. (The report card) provides an excellent tool for parents and educators to objectively evaluate our public high schools. It will further serve a useful purpose as a benchmark for the future to measure our schools’ progress.