tv State Officials on Tax Credit Scholarships at AEI CSPAN October 5, 2019 5:25pm-6:25pm EDT
on school choice programs and tax credit scholarships with state officials. there are state representatives from tennessee, arizona and pennsylvania. the american enterprise from -- from the american enterprise institute, this is about one hour. >> good morning. my name isnat malkus and i get to take us through our panel with state decision-makers and we have an excellent panel and i'm going to introduce them now and we are going to jump into a discussion of school choice in the state and what education scholarships might mean there. i have three state policymakers here today. kimberly yee is the 36th treasurer of arizona and we are
glad to have you here. she stewards of $40 billion state budget and makes sure the checks go to whom they need to go to. treasurer yee has a number of firsts. the first asian-american elected to statewide office in arizona. will the first chinese-american republican woman to win a major statewide office in the united states. she was senate majority leader in arizona, not the first, but notably followed sandra day o'connor so that is worth mentioning. she chaired the senate education
committee and helped create the nation's first education savings account into thousand 11. interestingly, has a pattern i think that you worked on the executive team of the former arizona state treasurer, dean martin, and now you hold the post. and you are an analyst for the senate committee of education that you would later chair. some grassroots work and then heading. thanks for being here. john deberry is a representative of the 90th district in tennessee general assembly. he represents memphis and he has been there a while. he started in 1995, when i lived in tennessee. quite a while since i've been. he's been a member of
several committees. he also serves as the democratic leader pro tem for -- mike turzai represents the 20th district in allegheny county. speaker turzai has been a member of the house since 2001 and was elected speaker in 2016 he's also done groundbreaking work in pennsylvania on their school choice initiatives.
he led efforts with pennsylvania business leaders to implement a $15 million operation -- scholarship tax credit which started children in low performing schools and while he was house majority leader he double the size of the education improvement tax credit. the other eit see in pennsylvania from $50 million to $100 million. i would just lay out some of the differences in the school choice landscape. tennessee has been fighting in recent years to get programs up and they did just past another one for memphis and nashville specifically. in pennsylvania, there are two tax credit scholarships that i mentioned already. 50,000 students plus participating in
them. arizona is the heavy hitter with four different scholarship programs. tens of thousands of students. the first esa, one of the most mature. they also have a very rare program of universal eligibility for tax credit scholarships in arizona. a wide variety of states and contexts. speaker turzai, reflecting on
the conversation, i wonder what your take is given that the states have been doing the heavy lifting on school choice for about three decades. have made all the progress and this is an opportunity with the education freedom scholarships for the federal government to come in. we heard discussions about folks being wary of that. how does that play out down the line when there may be last school choice friendly folks in the white house or the it is election administration? my question to you, as a state leader who has been doing this work, is this a good thing or a bad thing for school choice in the state, why or why not? mr. turzai: it is a decidedly good thing. the proposal, the education freedom scholarship the secretary put together, is mirrored to a certain extent on work that has been done in pennsylvania, florida, and arizona. the laboratories of democracy have shown that it works. in pennsylvania, we have a robust education improvement scholarship up to 135 million. $135 million.
on top of that, we have the $55 million opportunity scholarship. a total of about 190 million. we've increased the limit for families to make use of them. 50,000 students were able to receive some scholarship. just shy of another 50,000 did not get them. another $145 million was left off the table from businesses that wanted to get the tax credits. it will work in all 50 states and it will work with the partnership with the federal government. >> the secretary made so many important points. i hope i have this number right. in a $4.5 trillion budget on the federal level, $5 billion, i know we throw around the term billion, but $5 billion in tax credits, people are still paying tax liability. they are just directing it to opportunities for kids to make a decision to go to a different school that fits them, that many more affluent folks have. that is the fundamental issue. my wife and i, we have three boys. one who graduated public high school, one who graduated from a struggling catholic school but that's where he wanted to go and it was a good fit, and our youngest in 11th grade is in the public school. we can afford it. many other folks do not have that opportunity and there are
parents and grandparents and guardians across the united states that want to have that fundamental -- nat: you've been in the fight for school choice programs in tennessee and you have fresh scars to show for it i imagine. tennessee had two programs but a long way to go to catch up with pennsylvania or arizona's progress. my question to you is, with the political realities on the ground in tennessee, how do you think the state might react and use the education freedom scholarship opportunity where it to become law? mr. debarry: i think the misnomer is that the parents don't want it. they really do. and that it's not going to benefit the children. it really will. what's happening in tennessee is what's happening all over the country. those individuals who have a personal stake in the funds that we allocate to educate our children are not necessarily concerned many times about what happens to the children. we have what i call, and especially in memphis, a large urban area, and the demographics speak for themselves, where the schoolhouse jailhouse pipeline is wide open. we are putting less and less children in higher education or positioning them so they can make a living. what i think we have in the state of tennessee is what we have across the country. we've got to deal with the perception that the calling cry
is public money and the private schools and so on and so forth, not necessarily taking to heart that it is public money to take care of our children. i think as the secretary said, we've got to get the money -- concentrate on the children, not the system. i was accused when we were talking about this in this debate it was said, what's going to happen in the state of tennessee is they are going to cherry pick. the best children in the school, the best children in that school. my response was, education within itself, in many places his cherry picked. all kids don't go to law school or medical school. all kids don't become architects or teachers. those individuals who are prepared for those various professions and for those various disciplines, those are the ones that go there. what we've got to do is put more cherries on the tree. that is what we are not doing. we've got to get more children ready to be picked to go to school, to have those opportunities. i think that is where the battle lies in the state of tennessee. we've got to create and enhance and fortify the perception that this is a matter of national defense, if you please. and most certainly the strengthening of our state. nat: treasurer yee, in arizona, you have different realities on the ground especially compared to tennessee and you have a more robust system of school choice.
you have four types of scholarship programs. if the efs were to become a reality, what do you think arizona would do with this new tailwind? it seems you could build your programs up by increasing the amounts offered to kids, or you could build them out by increasing the breadth of programs and more participation.
state. we are celebrating 25 years of charter schools in arizona. for this federal proposal, is not only good education policy, it is good tax policy. for us to continue to enhance that in arizona with this opportunity, we would be able to do more with what we have to put forward as a foundation. one of the things -- expanses i had an state legislature before becoming state treasurer was always designing what works for the money available and the opportunities there. we would not have as many boundaries with this, because we would have that much more to use and be able to have more kids in those schools that they want to be in. right now, there are some prohibitions for the types of kids that can have what we call empowerment scholarships. one of those, if you are a preschooler you have to be a preschooler with a disability. a kindergartner, with a disability. let's let all of those preschoolers at all those kindergartners be able to choose the school of their choice. this would allow us to enhance our existing programs in arizona.
[no audio] there's tax credit -- >> there's tax credit scholarships and we have more traditional voucher programs and then there's also education savings accounts. i will ask any of the three of you, efs sort of comes as a tax credit scholarship. it requires the state to identify the 501(c)(3)'s, the scholarship granting organizations, the sgo's. do you think that format may privilege the tax credit scholarship -- i don't know if they deserve an advantage, but to the less likelihood that vouchers would continue? do you view that as an issue? ms. yee: i can speak for arizona the secretary earlier shared the
way to share this piece is to hear the testimonials from the very families who have benefited from not only our esa's but other school choice opportunities we've had in arizona. i would allow us to build a bridge to those who might not have had this opportunity. we can enhance existing programs and bring forward new marketing tools. if they have the experience with these wonderful opportunities of school choice, let's share that story. let's allow the other families that might have heard a story or two, that may have been incorrect about the opportunities these families had, let them hear about the families who have benefited, who have succeeded and who are staying in the schools of their choice. nat: speaker turzai, i wanted to give you the opportunity to answer the same question i asked treasurer yee. you have a couple of tax credit scholarships. what do you think pennsylvania
would be able to do with efs -- we are tax credit scholarships be built up in value? would they be for more options? where would you think the push would be in pennsylvania? mr. turzai: they would enhance our existing education improvement -- credits without a doubt. you would partner them up and you would be able to do two things. he would be able to expand the pole of families that get those scholarships, and the amounts they get. i believe you would continue to create waiting lists because it would become more attractive. you never quite catch up, because i think people want that choice. people, all backgrounds, all world city suburban, one opportunities to do what's best for their child. the other thing you asked isn't it going to crowd out other stratagems. nat: other mechanisms. mr. turzai: other mechanisms for
school choice. we are putting out a proposal as a pilot program or prototype for the city of harrisburg. it's our capital city. 6500 students in that particular district. 7% of the students are testing perficient and algebra. 9% are testing perficient in biology. 13% in english. that is unacceptable. the secretary was gracious enough to come to the capital city and we saw harrisburg elementary catholic elementary school k-8. those students were across-the-board minority students, low income students, many single-parent families or the grandparents were doing much of their rearing or the education. they were wearing uniforms, great discipline, great love,
great learning environment. we heard a particular single mom with two boys in eighth grade and seventh grade, who said it was the single most important decision in her life and that without the scholarship, which was about maybe one third of the amount, so she had to come up with the other amount for the tuition because it's not cheap to have that school. she said it was the single most important decision and that she had her kids on the path where they would be able to succeed in life. you could see it tangibly. if i'm apollo see -- if i am a policymaker, whatever your mechanism is, moving forward because as the good representative said, a lot of people want that choice. nat: representative deberry, i'm interested in states that are not as far along. some states don't have any school choice programs and their politics, come likely to bring them on. how much do you think if the efs program came forward into law as we look at, how much of a help would be in states that currently offer no school choice
proposals? mr. debarry: we've got to change the perception. the debate has gone on forever. i've been in office for 25 years. we go on and on and the conversation. the conversation gets convoluted. the public gets confused as to what we are trying to do. that is what is happening all over this country. i'm an old guy. my dad marched with dr. king. i was somewhere in the crowd as a teenage boy. when my dad integrated the schools in crockett county in 1968 as the president of the naacp. it was not that the school that
we were going to was insufficient, it was a great school, but it was a segregated society. that was a school we were sent to whether we liked it or not because of various reasons, that is where we were supposed to be. my dad said that is not right, we are changing this. we integrated the school in 1968, a great experience with the kids in crockett county high. this has gone on throughout my life. my eldest daughter is an attorney, my youngest daughter is a therapist. neither one of them would be who they are had i not had the ability to take them out of school which were insufficient to educating them and preparing them for life. i got two jobs and i sent them to school and pay the tuition because it's my responsibility to educate my children. when parents began to realize these are their tax dollars,
their children, their schools that they pay for, these are opportunities that are funded by the money they work hard and gives of the government can properly use it. and when you have something called a failing school and we throw the term around like it's normal, that is not normal. as soon as people get enough of it and decide they want their children to have better, it's going to change across the state. this is an evolution of school choice as far as my experience is concerned, going all the way back to the 1960's. until parents have the right to say where their children are going to go, so that they can have opportunities they need, we will keep talking about this. hopefully we get the perception changed so folks will understand this is not about unions, not about professions, this is about the children. and from the children we work back to who it takes to make it
happen. nat: i want to take a minute and zoom in on the weeds, that's where i'm most comfortable. we talk about these education freedom scholarships, tax credit scholarships. we give scholarships to kids but there's a big institution on the in between, these scholarship granting organizations. part of the strategy behind the bill is by allowing states to determine who those scholarship granting organizations are in what they can do, that they have control over these programs in a larger aspect with some guardrails. my question, especially in pennsylvania and arizona, what guides your choices on scholarship granting organizations? how does the state decide who should get them and why? they seem to play a central role in these programs. ms. yee: in arizona we call them school tuition organizations and they are 501(c)(3)'s. the state gets out of the way once they are granted as an organization and their role is to ensure that there is accountability on the side of the financials. if you were to go to the esa's, the state treasurer's office is the financial manager of those accounts while the state apartment of education is the program manager of those accounts. between the two state agencies, we ensure those dollars are being used for the very purposes so that the accountability is
there, so taxpayers know they are being used for the purpose intended. it allows for the program to continue to grow because they see there is a real strong program with rails to guard against fraud. one of the things i found early on in looking at rs geos, families find -- continuing down locally even to the family. in arizona we have a number of sgo's. if one resident wants to go to the northern part of arizona it does not matter because they
play an important role in making sure the funds are available. like a backpack to go on the backs of that student wherever they choose to go to school. mr. turzai: these scholarship organizations, the key thing is that when they apply to make use of the tax credit and get out the scholarships, the money is in fact going to schools that are providing a scholarship to those students to be able to attend there. the function of the scholarship organization is defined. very defined. the key thing is you are looking over that they are in fact sending the money to the school for that student to get that scholarship.
it is easy to audit. we have a department that does it under the department of education that watches that. you have to be approved in the first place and you get watched and you have to send in reports. that is the key. keep in mind, ask want to give this context -- i just want to give this context. in the commonwealth of pennsylvania we spend over $30 billion in state and local tax dollars, approved by the state, either on the statewide level or beget powers to school districts that have taxes. over $30 billion for public education for k-12. we are the third and adjusted average teacher salary for public schools, third and adjusted average starting salary for public schools out of 50 states, third and adjusted average teacher salary to median household income. third and adjusted her of school spending in pennsylvania.
the amount of scholarships we have is 100 $90 million -- $190 million in tax credits. less than 1% of what we are spending on public education at $30 billion. if we are going to talk about accountability, i would like to take a closer look at the $30 billion we are spending on public education k-12 than this $190 million we are allowing for tax credits. these people that are trying to get the tax credits and give out the scholarships, they are
people with a mission. allow families to be able to go to choices in education. they are doing the right thing. nat: i'm curious about the relationship between state lawmakers and policymakers and the representatives you send to capitol hill. how you might be able to put pressure on them or get them to voice concerns of the folks you represent. particularly on this issue. i'm curious generally about the political climate in your state versus the political i'm it they're going to and what all those forces mean for the likelihood the education freedom scholarships getting traction on capitol hill. ms. yee: i think one of the aspects of this proposal is it respects federalism and it allows for the states to design the program as they wish. if you look back in arizona in 1997, when we created charter schools and open enrollment and
the tax credit individually as well as corporate, we gave a little piece to both parties. it allowed us to reach across the aisle, though the proposal is being advanced by the republicans are democrat friends were alongside the proposal because we allowed them to use a little bit the -- a bit of this as well to advance tax credits. other extracurricular advancements. so this could be designed in a way where it works for both parties. in a way where our public school advocates and are a choice advocates come together to design what works best for that state. mr. turzai: i am not here in washington dc so i don't know the lay of the land as those folks that are here. i would begin with the senate majority leader. i would ask senator mcconnell, who i think is a thoughtful person, and diligent public elected official, i would make this a priority. i would say let's get this
through the senate with alacrity once it passes the chamber -- as a speaker of the house i have experience with this. once it passes the chamber it changes the chessboard because it has a level of reality, a body in the united states congress passed it. it puts pressure on the other body. that pressure needs to come on speaker pelosi because she has a lot of talk and not a lot of delivery. i will bet her kids went to
private schools. i'm sure her entire circle of friends kids went to private schools. that opportunity for a lot of other parents and guardians throughout the united states of america or she just about protecting special interests? let's make her make the choice. that has to begin with the senate passing the bill. mr. debarry: i don't want to pretend to get into the middle of the toxic atmosphere that exists here in washington because all it does is increase toxicity in the state of
tennessee. we don't have the infrastructure either these states have. there are a lot of uncharted territory that we have to go through in implementing our policies on school choice. i think we make stuff more complicated than it actually is because when we start talking about accountability and measurable results everybody in this room, dozens people, and convenience or whatever we might be within the american system. we are accountable for the funds that are allocated, the funds that go to education. well over $1 billion in my county. what if we started becoming accountable and we let that results that were measurable and
that the money was doing what it was supposed to do? i think until we move the system, all the bullies, the people that have self interests. deeply rooted in their own opinion rather than what is best . we get nowhere. at some point in time if we are going to have a generation going to compete, if we get away from being number 40 in the world and the laughingstock of the world when we've got all of these advantages and blessings and we are not passing it on to our offspring, if that's going to happen we've got to adults. folks who get elected to office are going to have to stop acting like a bunch of children, sit down at the table -- at like adults and solve the problem. [no audio] vouchers are more highly funded. i just wonder what to make of
this, especially from pennsylvania and arizona to representative deberry who doesn't have a tax credit scholarship yet. what are some of the difficulties with getting these scholarship amounts up high enough to really help especially low income folks? leader turzai you mentioned the woman getting scholarship for about third of tuition. harrisburg coming up with $4000 or $5000 a year. >> it's a very good point. you have to get the foot in the door and it is saving lives. there's 50,000 students in pennsylvania who wouldn't otherwise have this choice. what we like to see it expanded to more individuals? yes. we had a bill, passed house and senate, it had bipartisan support in the house. it was republicans in the
senate. "washington journal" editorial three times in favor of it. asked the governor to sign it and he vetoed it. what it would have done, it would have increased our educational tax credit scholarship by $100 million. it would be like a booster to take it from up to $210 million. we subsequently got it up to $135 million. we borrowed from florida. it would have been a 10% increase if there were enough subscriptions for students that want these scholarships. that would have increased every year by 10%. it was a multiplier. that was one of the reasons the governor vetoed it, we have to continue to keep moving forward. we are taking a different approach with this harrisburg prototype. we're doing a more direct scholarship. it's going to be 50% of basic education funding split in part by the local school district and by the state in harrisburg it amounts to $8200. for the local school district, we are not changing what you call their average daily
membership count. we're going to be increasing it. we'll throw in the number of students already in private schools into that number. when we allocate the state tax dollars. on a per pupil basis, say 25% of the students decide to choose these scholarships, they would be educating for a higher dollar amount, 75% of the kids, which means that on a per pupil basis, that amount goes up. right now harrisburg is spending -- when i say harrisburg, it's state and local tax dollars, 22,000 per students, that's well above the national average and in addition, 60% of that amount is coming from state tax dollars while 40% of it coming from local tax dollars that we have empowered them to do. i do think there's variety of approaches to take. i don't think you fit on any one approach to school choice.
the treasure talked about 25 years for charter schools. state of arizona, charter schools are another approach. if you're saving lives, why wouldn't you continue to pursue it? >> i'm interested in your comments on the difficulty getting these scholarship amounts. >> well, the 90% of the basic state aid is what we use for esa's which is empowerment i do think there's variety of approaches to take. i don't think you fit on any one approach to school choice. the treasurer talked about 25 years for charter schools. the state of arizona charter schools are another approach. but if you're saving lives, why wouldn't you continue to pursue it? yee, i'mry: ms. interested in your comments on the difficulty getting these scholarship amounts. hi. ms. yee: well, the 90% of the basic state aid is what we use
for esa's which is empowerment scholarship. so it's really saving the taxpayers funds that would otherwise go to full 100% public school districts. that's one aspect. secondly, if you take a look at what parents are receiving, this allows them to truly take a look at what the state is giving them and choosing, no matter where they live, no matter what zip code they live in, the school of their choice. that is a concept that we have to remember when we talk about freedom. who is to say that, for any nonprofit, as we were talking about school tuition organization, who in america has a cap on how much you should be able to give to your favorite nonprofit? and we should be able to look at expanding that, if we already have that in our state. be able to have taxpayer allocate more to that school tuition organization so that more kids can benefit from this great program.
one of the things that i tried to do when i worked through the legislative process in advocating for this, is to really talk about how these stories really do sell the initiative. and we have had 25 years of stories to tell in arizona. and truly, some of these stories bring you to tears because of how family have escaped from a system that has just pushed their child back, sometimes grade levels back. and now they have the freedom to choose the school their choice. for instance, we have a number of communities, where if the school zip code under the failing school, they had to be trapped in that school all these years. suddenly, with all our scholarships and with our school
choice options in arizona, they're able to go to another school that works best for them where they can succeed. those are the stories that will sell in this initiative, not only in the states but on that hill. that's really something that arizona is committed to do to be able to share the decades of experience that we've had on school choice. mr. malkus: so, different school choice, private school choice often have different targeting. some of the programs, arizona has a tax credit scholarship that's universal. that is rare. most of them are targeted to low income students. they are targeted to students with disabilities. some are targeted to students who are bullied. some are targeted to low performing schools or districts in a state. as state leaders dealing with these issues, how do you think about the trade-offs in those different eligibility rules? and for a state that's considering to take a first foray into these things, where do you suggest is the sweet spot in terms of program eligibility?
ms. yee: well, one of the myths is that if we open up the cap, if we open up the number of students and remove the prohibitions that we have, that all of the kids from the public schools are going to run into the private school. at landscape. that's not the case. we've had esa's in arizona on the books since 2011. and you can see there has been movement, where parents are able to walk to the school of their choice with their children. but it's not this exodus from the public school system. so that really does speak that it's about freedom. you can choose to use it or not to use it. but allowing states to have that ability to design a program of their choice goes back to the respect that the state should have in designing the program that fits best for this new program. and for arizona, again, we have a long standing history with school choice.
we feel it would just enhance those school programs and allow us to have more student benefits from school choice. mr. deberry: if the public schools looked at poor children and gave them the opportunities that they absolutely have to have if they're going to escape poverty and escape cycle of poverty. every program that we come up with, we're going to help poor children with this. we're going to help poor children with this. we've got to get off this bandwagon and simply say, we got to do what's best for all students, regardless of who they are. and the reason we start with poor children in the state of tennessee, children who's families qualify for temporary federal assistance is because those children have been woefully neglected. most are the ones who fill up
the prisons, the ones who fill out the gangs. they are the one who haven't been given the attention they need remediated so they can learn to read better. i have given kids a dollar for every report card cycle since first grade. watch them go through 12 years of school, have their diploma in hand with honors, and they can't make a 14 or 15 on the a.c.t. then we want to say it's that child's fault when that child sat in the our care for 12 years and we've failed to get them ready. number one, we got to stop using our poor children so we can ease a program through and simply do what's right, say that we in america are failing our children. we're not competing with the
rest of the world. we have a global economy. a child anywhere in the world can get on an airplane and be in america within a matter of hours and sat right beside a child who has been here all their lives and apply for the same exact job with better skills. until we start looking at this as a matter of preservation of our republic, of our national defense, and taking care of our citizens, we're going to just keep spinning wheels. and that's kind of where we are now. mr. malkus: speaker turzai, i want to get to you on this question of targeting. i want to ask about tennessee's recent experience. you've got a very sort of odd set of targets in this latest bill. that's memphis and nashville. i'm curious how that unfolded and why? mr. deberry: it unfolded because there are those who absolutely believe that because this is public money, even though we have scholarships, tennessee promise, that takes public money and a child can take that money to any school, private or public that they wish, to get a good
education, and this has worked wonderfully throughout the state of tennessee, educating so many young people. we want to do the same thing as far as high school is concerned or elementary is concerned. and there are those who say that this is absolutely not right. it is against the public interest. as a matter of fact, there's a bill filed already to repeal and to undo what we did last year. so, it's that attitude and perception that this is ours to control. in my opinion, you have many , many wonderful teachers, many wonderful schools, people are who giving their best, taking money out of their pocket. but when you have a systematic problem like we have, where there are organizations that their very existence depends upon controlling those funds, they are going to fight for dear life to control them. that's what's happening in
tennessee and i picture that's what's happening all over the country. just interested in follow-up, it seems at first it was a tennessee-wide program. then it was scaled down to these two counties, memphis and nashville metro. there's a logic there in the vote that well, it's okay for these two urban centers as long as we pull the rest of the state off the eligibility map. and i'm trying to understand where that logic makes the bill easier to pass? mr. deberry: well, it makes it easier to pass if you got folks that say not in my backyard. not in my school system. and there are some wonderful school systems in the state of tennessee, all over the state of tennessee. all of us put our money in the pot all over the state of tennessee to take care of the state's best interest. that's all of the state, from memphis to mountain city. and until we in the state of
tennessee here and again, all over the country, until we start looking at this holistically, if one child fails, we all fails. until that happens, we're going to continue to say not in my backyard. it gets a little down and whittle down and whittle down until there's two major areas. and here again, the insulting part of that is, it's always with certain demographics. poor people, black people, hispanic people, folks who have various issues in life, didn't just drop down from mars. they've been here all along. so we've got to continue to look at our own deficiencies as legislatures and those who govern to realize that the problems that exist were not created by the people. they were created by us. public education, we created it. we got to recreate it. and that's where our mind has got to be. mr. malkus: i want to give you a chance tonight the targeting
question. but first, i want to tell the audience in just couple of minutes we'll take questions. prepare for those. as far as targeting eligibility, how's that been in pennsylvania and what might you advise other states? mr. turzai: you know, it's a great question for public policymakers. but i, myself, think it should be as expansive and broad as it can be, ideally. our educational proven tax credit scholarships, we focus on increasing that because it's available across the state in rural, suburban, and urban areas. and there's a desire or a want in communities all across the state. i've seen it in orthodox jewish schools in the city of philadelphia and the city of pittsburgh. but i've seen it in more rural catholic and christian schools.
and i've seen it in suburban schools that are just private, non-denominational schools. there are administrators and educators in each of those types of schools that make use of and benefit for the families and the kids, educational proven tax credit scholarship. the one relationship that we have that we have twice now increased is income limits. i think that who might take advantage of these are also middle income families and low income families, too. to working parents sometimes, would love to send their child to a local catholic, christian, jewish, non-denominational school. they would like to do that. at 12,000, which is not -- that's a typically priced high
school. many others go much higher. the eitc is what they need to get over the goal line. and it should be available to as many people as possible. if i could, i would increase the income limits even higher. i can't do it singularly. but we have increased our limits. i do think what we're doing with more robust direct scholarship in harrisburg is modeled similarly on what has happened in cleveland and in milwaukee . and i think what the good representative and his folks are doing down in tennessee with respect to nashville and memphis. at a certain point, i've used this phrase already but i'm going to repeat it. you need to get a foot in the door and save lives.
you want to do it any way that you can. also, i want to reemphasize this point that the treasurer made, pennsylvania is a state that spends considerable amount of tax dollars on public schools. if that's what fits those particular students, that's great. but we know from facts, from stories, from encountering families, it's not one size fits all. and that choice should be available and that's what united states secretary of education and her team are proposing. let's go from what's happened in the states and take it across the united states. mr. malkus: all right, i'd like to open for questions from the audience if we can. we have two rules here at aei, when you have a question, give us your name and affiliation and then ask the question. right here. >> good morning. mary lou and i am a
science teacher, 33 years in the public school system in new york. i don't hear the voice of the teacher in any of these discussions and i feel that they're a large stakeholder, how can i return to my colleagues -- how can i turn to my colleagues and assure them that this educational freedom scholarship will not harm education as we know it, will not cause them their jobs, will not somehow adversely impact them? if we can get teachers on the side of the scholarships, i think they could influence their leaders in this direction. >> first of all, i'm the daughter of a public school teacher who taught for 38 years in the state of arizona. so, i bring a great respect and admiration to our public school system when we talk about these types of school debates and
school reform. and i have been one to always bring those around the table , whether they agree each other or not. the voices are very important to the end result of the design what we will pursue. thatis, it makes the case that we will be more opportunities because the funding is coming alongside from the federal government. it's interesting because having been in public policy prior to elected office for 23 years, i have never seen federal department of education come alongside to partner with the states and say we're going to take a hands off approach on this initiative and give the states the ability to design education freedom scholarship how it works for your state. it's going to look different from every state in the country. that's great. what a wonderful opportunity and
for the public school advocates in my state, i would say to them that this allows us to counter the debate that our general fund will have money scooped away from the public school system. that will not be the case if we have a supplemental amount of funding coming from the federal government for the first time that i can remember on a school choice design program. so, this is an exciting opportunity that we should be embracing. and i would say that this is a wonderful opportunity to bring the education advocates from the public school system to the table because there's nothing that says they can't be a part of this design. in arizona, as i shared earlier, we provided a tax credit for public schools at the same time that we advanced our school tuition organization and allows for tax credits for individuals and corporations to move forward funding for individuals to go to a private school. so everybody got a little bit of something. mr. malkus: representative
deberry? get you in here quickly. mr. deberry: just this morning, i hope the secretary doesn't mind me mentioning it, we had a conversation about the very thing. that is letting the teachers know that they are part of this. they are stakeholders and it can't be done without them. when we were discussing this in the state of tennessee, we had kind of a saying that is sort of like you say if momma's not happy, nobody's happy. if the teacher's not happy, nobody is happy. i think that all of us got to take that to heart and make sure that the teachers know that if this is going to succeed or anything we're doing in education is going to succeed, teachers are an integral part of it. i just have to say this. i'm a public school teacher too. it is true that this discussion is about the child. that is where the discussion is. and it's about the parents or
the grandparents or the guardian. in philadelphia, there's 200,000 students. about 70,000 are in charter schools and about 30,000 want to be in charter schools. they have a lottery. my colleagues said that the one of the most frequently-asked questions she gets from our constituents in philadelphia, hey, can you help me get into one of these charter schools? i didn't create that waiting list of 30,000 families. the 70,000 families that are already in there, i didn't create that. people are making a decision, family by family, that they want to have opportunity. they see something, maybe it's the uniforms, maybe it's discipline. it's not always additional laboratories, by the way. sometimes it is. sometimes it isn't. people want to give their kids a break that they might not have had in their lives. that's what's driving this. that does not mean that the
public school system is going to disappear. i actually think many public schools usually get better based on the competition. and i think teachers rise to that level of competition because the teachers i know , that's what they do. the good teachers, that's what they do. mr. malkus: thanks, that was a great question. >> i'm olivia sullivan. i'm a freshman at myu, as well as research associate at the federal society. i really appreciate the panel and all of your conversation about autonomy and freedom with education. but i do want to push back on the sort of an assumption i served that all parent have their children's best interest at heart. how do you ensure that parents who don't necessarily know the children best interest or children who don't have parents who are in the foster system, how do you make sure that no children get left behind and that all children are being advocated for?
mr. turzai: the key there is you want to safe every life that you can possibly save. that's first and foremost. and you're right. not every child have that person in their life. many do. but built in your statement is an assumption because somebody might be lower economic value, that they don't have the same care and concern for that child of a parent of a higher economic value do. i think that is discriminatory. in addition, i've been with a lot of those parents who are waiting in line, or grandparents, or aunts or uncles, who want to get their kids in charter school. those people care very deeply just recently on the eitc front, i was at a catholic fair for their school trying to raise the money.
a grandma came up to me and told me, you know, my daughter is a drug addict. i'm taking charge of this young boy, i'm 70, and i'm worried. but i'm hoping this eitc scholarship is around because i know he's going to get an opportunity that we would not otherwise have. mr. deberry: when i listen to the young lady's question, i hear something else in there also. and the bitter pill that none of us seem want to swallow today in this society is the fact that the breakdown of the family and there are lot of people who have no one, or at least don't have the type of family that many of us have, these are the children that are, in many places, suffering. these are also the children that in many places the state has them as wards and taking care of them and feeding them and educating them and everything else. i think that we've got to put that on the table. when we have this discussion, we've got to talk about the
breakdown of the family. the fact that many children don't have parents who have their best interests at heart. as we broker these various programs and policies, that has got to be on the table. it must be part of the discussion. and it must be solved. mr. malkus: i'm afraid we are out of time so we will have to let him on that. i would like to thank speaker turzai, representative deberry and treasurer yee for talking to us today. thank you for coming. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
>> go shopping and see what is now available in our c-span store, including our t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats. and browsenstore.org all of our products. >> the white house did not release a weekly address from the president. lisa rochester from delaware gave the democratic address, highlighting house democrats' new legislation, the lower drug costs now act. the bill was introduced in response to the rising cost of prescription drugs. >> hello, i'm congresswoman lisa blunt rochester from delaware. when i ran to represent the first state and congress, my constituents and people across