Over the past decade, Pennsylvania has been a leader in promoting educational excellence through the creation and advancement of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program.
Since its inception, the EITC program has expanded educational options for low- and middle-income families by giving them a way to escape ineffective, and often dangerous, schools they are forced to attend by the luck of their street address. It has also helped to save the state hundreds of millions of dollars in education funding.
The EITC is a unique partnership that has succeeded in getting businesses more involved in the educational process by providing them with tax credits for contributing to charities that provide scholarships to students too poor to pay for a better educational option. In return, these businesses are rewarded with students who are better able to enter the workforce upon their graduation.
In the last decade, the EITC program has awarded more than 284,000 scholarships worth $335 million, supported by more than 3,600 companies across Pennsylvania.
Taxpayers also see significant benefit from the EITC program thanks to the savings achieved by moving children into alternative, self-funded schools. With an average scholarship of approximately $1,000, the EITC serves students for a small fraction of the $14,000 per student spent by school districts. If the 38,600 students who won EITC scholarships in 2009-10 attended public schools, an additional $512 million in revenue could be necessary to handle the additional enrollment.
The best evidence of the EITC’s success is not, however, in facts and figures, it is in the parental and student satisfaction illustrated by those who have benefited from the program. That is why, as the legislature prepares to debate the issue of school choice this fall, I will be working to make certain that we do not forget the success of the EITC program, and I am supporting legislation that would expand this successful program.