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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tax Credit Support

The NY Daily News comes out squarely in favor of Education Tax Credits today, with both a pro-ETC editorial and op-ed. From the editorial:
Second on the agenda is an education tax credit. Pataki proposed a landmark credit of up to $500 per child to help working poor and middle-class parents pay for private tuition or educational help if they live in a district with a failing school. It's an idea the Legislature should embrace wholeheartedly, but purely to circumvent school choice, lawmakers proposed instead a tax credit of $330 for every kid age 4 to 17 - including people making up to $170,000 a year.

On the opposite page, Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb and the Rev. A.R. Bernard lay out the arguments for supporting the governor's tax-credit plan. They make perfect sense. May the prayers of these men of faith be answered.

The op-ed, which is actually written by the clergymen mentioned in the editorial above, (Bishop DeMarzio, Rabbi Weinreb, and Rev. Bernard), expresses many of the same points I brought up yesterday (sorry for pasting the whole thing, but it bears reading in full):
Seeing that each child, whether rich or poor, has access to the best education available is more than good public policy. For us, it is a moral imperative. Helping a neighbor struggling financially isn't just nice, it's a Divine command.

With one policy - Education Tax Credits - our state's elected leaders could do both: secure a better education for students while relieving financial stress from lower income and middle class families.

Yet, because these credits would be available to all children in New York, including those attending nonpublic schools, the policy has drawn fierce special interest opposition.

It is inconceivable to us that anyone opposes a tax credit specifically designed to help struggling parents hire a tutor, enroll their child in test or SAT prep courses, or get special needs services because perhaps one in 10 of those using the credit would use it on private - or Heaven forbid - parochial school tuition. Every analysis shows 90% of those benefiting will be public school students.

Perhaps that is why even United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten recently stated she was "very open" to helping all schools and all students, including private ones.

Yet opponents led by the state teachers union, convinced that children who don't go to public school don't deserve a place at the table, have trotted out flimsy rationale after flimsy rationale to sink the proposal, putting forward an alternative "child tax credit" having nothing to do with education.

They've tried calling the education tax credit unconstitutional, but a quarter century of Supreme Court precedent stood in their way. They've tried calling it unaffordable, but their own alternative is more expensive. They've tried saying they are protecting education spending - but the credit they propose never mentions the word "education." Some even offered an excuse that they worried tuition might rise by the amount of the credit. By that logic, then:

New York shouldn't cut the sales tax on clothing because merchants might raise prices by the tax savings. And there shouldn't be any tax credits for higher education, because universities might raise tuition.

Without reason on their side, they resorted to hardball politics. And in Albany, that just might work. We are saddened, outraged and shocked that to date, the state Legislature has abdicated their responsibilities.

Public schools deserve our support. They have, by all accounts, done well this budget season - getting billions of dollars in new funding. Many days and many issues see us side by side with the unions representing New York's public school teachers. Not this time. Their union pressed hard until the Legislature caved.

With the budget ink still wet, Jewish New Yorkers will soon sit down to the Passover seder. Christian New Yorkers will celebrate Easter Sunday. Both holidays center around how we can best impart crucial teachings to our children. We can only hope as our Legislative leaders, including two upstanding members of our respective faiths, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, sit with their own families, they will have stood up to special interests, standing with and for each and every family with a school-age child throughout New York.

23 Comments:

Blogger The Town Crier said...

Do you still not think that the Yeshiva Executive Directors won't find ten different ways to make sure that $500 bux comes back to them?

9:18 AM  
Blogger Conservative Apikoris said...

Again, the disclaimer that I am not a resident of New York State, and so my comments are of a more general nature.

I might consider providing direct financial support to private schools if they accept the condition of complying with all of the rules that are obligatory for public schools.

In addition to curriculum, this means that the private schools can't cherry pick students to keep out special-ed cases, or dismiss students because they don't keep a ceretain level of religious observance. In fact, a school receiving direct government financial aid should not even be allowed to dsicriminate on the basis of relgion, gender, national origin, race, etc. That means that if a goyish schvarter wants to attend a right-wing orthodox yeshiva, the yeshiva should be required to take him. Furthermore, as a condition for receiving goivernment funds, the schools should be required to make all necessary acoomdations to meet the needs of religious and cultural education of each and every student. That means if the yeshiva has some Christian goyish students, they have to have classes with Jesus-stuff for them. If there are Muslim kids in the yeshiva, then the Imam comes in to give Koran classes. Conservative and Reform kids? -- The Yeshiva has to provide them with an Etz Chyim or Plaut chumash and classes on the Documentary hypothesis.

Under the current system, private schools cherry-pick the most desirtable students, and dump the rest into the hands of the taxpayers. Such schools should be forced to pay additional taxes, not benefit from government largesse.

9:30 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

This tax credit does not provide direct support to public schools.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Conservative Apikoris said...

This tax credit does not provide direct support to public schools.

I will assume you meant to write "Private" schools.

Not so fast. Based on the editorial you quoted, it's presumably:

1) means-tested (only people below a certain income qualify)

2) it has to be used for education expenses, either tuition at a private school or outside tutoring, or whatever.

3) and it's only good for parents who live in a district with a "failing" school (whatever that is, and I susepoct it's one in which a large proportion of the students do poorly in some sort of standardized test.)

You might be technically correct that the funds don't go directly from the state to the the school, but the money laundering is pretty superficial. I suppose that's what the alternative bill is trying to do.

But on the basis of the articlae cited, I don't see how this proposed tax credit will particularly help either parents or the private schools. First, the $300 credit is chump change when compared with $10,000+ tuition rates. Unless this is just a way to get a foot in the door, and the idea is full public funding of private schools.

Second, it only applies to parents who live in a district where the schools are "failing." I suspect that's not the case in the 5 Towns, so it doesn't seem that it would be any use to orthoMom, who would probably be better off if she just sent her kids to the public schools and sent them to NCSY camp and Israel tour in the summer.

Third, even this ineffective shump change will cost a lot in the aggregate, and becuase state budgeting is a zero-sum-game, it will have to come out of someone else's hide. Who is in victim? While, of course, I'm not on the scene, I suspect that more than the teacher's unions are going to get their ox gored. And why should these "victims" take the budget shaft just so a limited number of parents can get some chump changes that issn't enough to make a meaningful difference anyway?

So the tax credit as written is worthless, except, perhaps as a way to get a foot in the door for something more comprehensive that will involve direct government financing of private school. This is the ultimate goal of the privatizers, to eliminate a public school system that has an obligation to educate everybody regardless of level of religious observance or special needs.

Lots of luck to parents when that happens, they will be at the mercy of cherry-picking schools that will hold their kids' participation hostage to whatever unreasonable demands the schools administrators dream up.

10:48 AM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

Do you still not think that the Yeshiva Executive Directors won't find ten different ways to make sure that $500 bux comes back to them?

No. I might agree if every family gets the credit. But as has been pointed out here many, many times, a substantial number of families (in some yeshivas, most) won't qualify given the income limit. This argument simply doesn't work unless all or substantially all families would be getting the credit.

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Private prep schools my cherry pick students. Many Yeshivas don't. Conservative Apikoris is just wrong here and I can tell you that many families in my neighborhood would welcome another $500 per child in their pocket in this season before Pesach. Come off your high horse and recognize that families are struggling.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why don't we let parents themselves determine whether the several hundred dollars per child will make a difference in their lives. There seem to be quite a few people supporting this as evidenced by the over 5000 peope who showed up in Albany on Feb 14th. If any of you intellectualls don't want the refund that you might be getting give it to the the poorer amongst you. I am sure that they will be pleased to have it.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Conservative Apikoris said...

There seem to be quite a few people supporting this as evidenced by the over 5000 peope who showed up in Albany on Feb 14th.

How many million people live in New York State?

Getting a crowd of 5,000 is not exactly a hard thing to do for a well-organized politcial pressure group. Means nothing.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Conservative Apikoris said...

Private prep schools my cherry pick students. Many Yeshivas don't.

Do they accept special ed kids as students?
Do they accept gentiles as students?
Heck, do they accept Conservative, Reform, and Unobservant secular Jews?
Do they kick out kids are are underperforming acadmeically?
Do they kick out kids who are not at a desired level of Jewish observance?
Do they kick out kids from frum families who "go off the derech?"


Conservative Apikoris is just wrong here

You mean none of the Yeshivas discriminate against special ed kids, dumb kids, goyim, non-orthodox kids, or kids who violate the school's behavior codes off the school property?

and I can tell you that many families in my neighborhood would welcome another $500 per child in their pocket in this season before Pesach.

Sure, I'd like another $500 in my pocket right now, too. That doesn't mean that the state has any obligation to give it to me or that it would be a good policy for the state.

Come off your high horse and recognize that families are struggling.

Well, then they can send their kids to public schools.

3:54 PM  
Blogger DovBear said...

This tax credit does not provide direct support to private [sic: public] schools.

So why did all the schools exert all that effort getting us to support the bill. I was never urged to take a day off and shlep to Albany before, were you? It's obvious the school directors expect some gain; if they aren't going to raise tuition $500 per family, surely they'll at least tell all the scholarship cases that their aid packages have been cut by $500.

6:44 PM  
Blogger DovBear said...

There seem to be quite a few people supporting this as evidenced by the over 5000 peope who showed up in Albany on Feb 14th.

5000 sheeples in Albany is your raya that this is a good idea? If so NKOB must have been the greatest band in the history of the world.

6:45 PM  
Blogger DovBear said...

I can tell you that many families in my neighborhood would welcome another $500 per child in their pocket in this season before Pesach.

Then won't they be disapointed when the school director comes knocking on the door with his hand out. And the money is supposed to be used for EDUCATION expenses, not Pesach supplies.

Come off your high horse and recognize that families are struggling.

Giving all the schools an extra $500 per struggling family won't help them one bit.

6:47 PM  
Blogger DovBear said...

and I can tell you that many families in my neighborhood would welcome another $500 per child in their pocket in this season before Pesach.,

I'd welcome another $500 in my pocket winter spring summer and fall. Let's march on Albany and DEMAND that the govt give it to us!! Huzzah!

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the tax credit for the private arab schools ?

7:50 PM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

What about it?

9:53 PM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

The Daily News editorial would have been a lot more timely BEFORE the budget was passed!

In any case, we are really talking about $170/child now.

12:15 AM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

I think that $170 will buy 3 months of required lunches at my nieces school.

Stinks that it is not higher, but when your suffering, something is something.

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most credits get phased out as income increases. Your family lives in the 5 towns and it sounds like youre pretty well off- making it basically impossible for you or your well-to-do friends to benifit from this tax credit.

3:12 PM  
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