School Passports: Another Great Idea to Expand Choice and Save Money

I’m pretty young and haven’t had the chance to visit a lot of places. Still, I think of passports as pieces of paper that allow you to travel to other countries. The Foundation for Educational Choice offers a different and thought-provoking twist, though, with a new report called “School Passports: Making the Stimulus Pay Off for Students and State Budgets.”

In a nutshell, the basic idea is to transform the federal Race to the Top program into “a $4 billion tuition scholarship or education voucher program to enable public school students in 50 states to attend private schools of their choice.” After noting that allowing such a program to happen would require Congress to change federal law, the report breaks down the estimated impacts at the national level and then state-by-state.

You can read the report yourself to see all the results, but I was most interested in what School Passports would look like in Colorado, if allocated as a voucher/tax credit program in the same proportion as the 2009 stimulus dollars:

  • Colorado would receive $63.8 million in federal funds, with $60.6 allocated directly to scholarships and the remaining amount to be used for administration and evaluation (5 percent)
  • Colorado could offer anywhere from 6,734 four-year $2,250 scholarships to 10,100 three-year $2,000 scholarships
  • Colorado private schools would require an increase in capacity from 10.3 to 15.4 percent
  • The Colorado state budget would save an estimated $10.3 million per year

Interestingly, this proposal offers some of the same advantages from the federal level as a key proposal from the K-12 education chapter of the Citizens’ Budget proposal offers at the Colorado state level. I’m talking about tuition tax credits that could provide families more choice and save the state money. Maybe I’m an impatient kid, but what are we waiting for already?