It’s ironic. It was in Meyer v. Nebraska (1923) where the United States Supreme Court first recognized that “it is the natural duty of the parent to give [their] children education suitable to their station in life.”[1] The Court recognized that the U.S. Constitution protects “the power of parents to control the education of their own.”

Today, however, Nebraska remains one of only six states without publicly supported options for a non-public education. In other words, Nebraska does not have school choice.

The Time for Better School Choice is Now

Different kids have different needs; different students do better in different learning environments; and parents should have more control of their children’s education than the government.

For these reasons and the fact that school choice provides more opportunities and better educational outcomes for students, Nebraska Family Alliance provided testimony on two bills before the Revenue Committee to create greater school choice options in Nebraska.

Two School Choice Bills in 2017

LB295 – Opportunity Scholarships

5Opportunity scholarships are a critical means of helping low income families get the best education for their children. LB295 would enact a large tax credit for private donations to non-profit “Scholarship Granting Organizations,” which in turn provide scholarships to eligible students for use at non-public schools.

This bill does not divert any public money away from public schools. Rather, it incentivizes private dollars to be turned into private donations for school scholarships. 

Opportunity Scholarships Have Saved States 1.7 Billion Dollars

In 17 states overall, opportunity scholarships have saved $1.7 to $3.4 billion to date. Using private dollars to reduce the number of students the state needs to take care of and pay to educate will directly lead to substantial local and state savings.

In Florida, a nonpartisan analysis from the Florida Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability found that for every $1 in education tax credits offered, taxpayers saved $1.49 in education costs. [2]

A review of Arizona’s Department of Revenue figures showed that Opportunity Scholarships were saving public schools over $240 million a year, [3] and right next door, opportunity scholarships have saved Iowa at least $280 million since their enactment in 2006. [4]

LB118 – Education Savings Accounts

4LB118 creates education savings accounts that can serve as a vehicle to greater choice and innovation in education while simultaneously helping families minimize the costs associated with education.

Whether a child is receiving education at a public, private, parochial or home school, there are expenses to their family for that education.

By creating a flexible account that will allow all families the opportunity to expand educational opportunities for their children, the state can not only help offset educational expenses, but give parents greater control over their tax dollars and their child’s education.

A Matter of Parental Rights

For many families, faith-based values are an essential part of their lives and want these values instilled in their children at school.This diversity should be celebrated by allowing greater school choice options for parents through school choice.

Private scholarships help meet this need and provide parents and students with the educational outcomes they desire.

Right now it is difficult for low income families to have their children’s educational needs met, and it is critical we bring school choice to Nebraska to help give parents the freedom to control the education of their own.

[1] Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923).

[2] The Florida Legislature Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability. Report No. 08-68. (December 2008).

[3] Charles M. North, Ph.D., J.D. Associate Professor of Economics at Baylor University. Estimating the Savings to Arizona Taxpayers.

[4] Martin Lueken, Ph.D., The Tax Credit Scholarship Audit, EdChoice, at pp. 51-53 (October 2016).

Nate Grasz

Nate Grasz

Policy Director
Nate is the Policy Director at Nebraska Family Alliance and host of the Capitol Report program.