Editor’s note: Don’t be misled by the politics of the moment in Florida. School choice – yes, including vouchers and tax credit scholarships – is increasingly bipartisan. Check out blue-state New York.
In a fascinating counter to the Florida debate, a proposal for tax credit scholarships in New York this spring won widespread backing from Democratic lawmakers and even labor unions (not counting the teacher unions), only to be dashed, apparently, in budget negotiations last weekend. In response, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, penned this op-ed in the New York Post.
Dolan noted the value that faith-based schools bring to all of us – academically, financially, socially – then lit into state leaders with this kicker: “Sadly, once again, they’ve divided our kids into winners and losers.” Here’s a taste of Dolan’s op-ed:
The public-school teachers unions weren’t alone in causing the bill to fail, and there is, I am sure, plenty of blame to go around. Certainly, when the bishops of New York State visited Albany recently to meet with our elected officials, we received plenty of assurances that the tax credit was a “no-brainer,” that it had plenty of support and that, for the first time, Catholic-school students wouldn’t be left by the wayside.
Sadly, those assurances turned out to be empty, and, once again, Catholic-school kids get kicked to the curb, along with children attending other faith-sponsored schools and even the other private and public schools that would have benefited.
This mistreatment of Catholic-school students can’t be due to any question about the quality of our schools. Across New York, our students consistently outperform their public-school counterparts, particularly in the inner cities.
And it can’t be because our political leaders don’t otherwise recognize the value that our schools and other private and parochial schools offer. Tuition-paying families pay about $3.8 billion in tuition each year — on top of the taxes they pay for public schools. Their sacrifice saves New Yorkers $9 billion a year. Just imagine for a moment that all Catholic schools across the state closed their doors, and the public schools had to absorb all our students. The burden on our towns, counties and cities would be enormous. Read the full post here.