A group of organizations has launched the Montana School Choice Coalition (MSCC) with the goal of increasing school choice options for parents and students in the state.
Montana enacted its first and only school choice program in 2015: the Tax Credits for Contributions to Student Scholarship Organizations program, a tax credit scholarship.
Also in 2015, Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) vetoed a bill establishing a special-needs education savings account program.
David Herbst, state director of Americans for Prosperity-Montana (AFP), announced in July AFP had joined forces with ACE Scholarships, Big Sky Scholarships, Montana Catholic Schools, Montana Family Foundation, Montana Federation of Independent Schools, and the Montana Policy Institute to form MSCC.
MSCC said in a press release, “The coalition is focused on empowering parents with the best education options for their children, and urging Montana lawmakers to focus on increasing school choice options for students and parents by giving them the tools they need to thrive, specifically an Education Savings Account (ESA) program and a Tax Credit Scholarship program.”
‘School Choice Is Popular’
Herbst says most people want school choice, but politics prevents children from getting the best education.
“We have a lot of moderate Republicans in the state that dictate the debate,” Herbst said. “School choice is popular. Education savings accounts are popular. The vast majority of people from the bottom-up of society support this idea, despite efforts against it. We can’t let this idea die because of the power of politics involved. Our children are worth it.”
School Choice ‘Gaining Momentum’
Jeff Laszloffy, president of the Montana Family Foundation, says school choice programs are becoming more popular because parents and children need them.
“This is an issue that is gaining momentum, and it is being driven by parents and kids who need solutions,” Laszloffy said. “We are seeking a private-sector solution to a public-sector problem. There is a portion of kids for whom a public school education works well, but there is a portion for whom it does not work, and we are seeking solutions for that group of individuals.”
Michael McGrady ([email protected]) writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“Montana School Choice Coalition Launches New Education Advocacy Efforts,” Americans for Prosperity Montana, July 29, 2016: https://heartland.org/publications-resources/publications/group-launches-montana-school-choice-coalition