On May 25, 2023, the Oklahoma Governor signed legislation that will give all students, regardless of where they live or how much money their family makes, the opportunity to receive a quality education that best fits their needs. Lawmakers adopted House Bill 1934, a universal school choice bill that will take effect in January 2024.
School choice gives parents the ability to send their children to the learning environment that best works for them, whether that’s public school, private school, or homeschool.
In America, where you live determines where your child goes to school. While many public schools excel at providing their students with a quality education, some are failing to equip their students with the tools they need to succeed. Wealthier families who live in a failing school district can afford to pay for an alternative education, such as private school. But many families, especially those with lower incomes, don’t have the resources to do so. School choice gives families funds to pay for the education environment of their choosing. There are many different types of school choice programs, including Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), vouchers, and tax-credit scholarship programs.
The legislation that just passed in Oklahoma gives parents up to $7,500 per child to pay for private-school tuition. In addition, parents who homeschool their children can apply for a $1,000 tax credit per child to pay for education-related expenses, such as instruction materials and tutoring.
It’s called a “universal” school choice bill because all students in the state can access the program. Some states have school choice programs, but they have income requirements or other perquisites. Oklahoma’s law will allow every school-age child to access the tax credit.
Oklahoma is now the seventh state to enact universal school choice—joining Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Utah, and West Virginia.
Many nonprofits, advocacy groups, think tanks, and education organizations helped advance this legislation, including the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a public policy organization and member of State Policy Network. For years, OCPA has encouraged policymakers and local leaders to improve education opportunity for Oklahoma children. Through research, media placements, and outreach to lawmakers, OCPA has been working to empower all parents to choose the best educational options for their children. This work culminated in a historic win today, with the Oklahoma Governor signing legislation that gives every child in Oklahoma more education freedom. With this tax credit in hand, more children can access the quality education they need and deserve.
Jonathan Small, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, added:
“The Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit Act opens the door of educational opportunity for families across our state, making it possible for families to choose from an array of school options regardless of their financial status. This bill doesn’t simply provide tax credits. Instead, it provides many families with that most precious commodity: hope for their children.”
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