Observers on the right and left agree: Virginia is at the center of the nation’s culture wars. In fact, a writer for The Washington Post said in July that Loudoun County was “the face” of Americans’ ongoing debate over how to explain our history to K-12 students. Virginia voters solidified the state’s new reputation by electing as governor a business owner with no political experience, Glenn Youngkin, over longtime politician Terry McAuliffe, after McAuliffe called for parents to have more limited roles in their child’s school.
Virginia families, like families in every state, should be able to choose how and where their children learn. Such choices matter more today than ever. Not only have assigned public schools failed to provide quality learning options before, during, and after the pandemic, but families have reasons to believe that educators are not providing children with a learning experience that matches their families’ values.
For the sake of students’ success in school and life and to protect parents’ rights to impart their deeply held beliefs—or at least prevent schools from eclipsing parents’ roles in their child’s education—Virginia lawmakers should consider proposals that:
- Expand the state’s existing K-12 private school tax-credit scholarship option so that donors receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit on their donations to non-profit organizations (currently, charitable donors only receive a 65% credit on their contributions). This will help scholarship organizations provide more scholarships to more children around the state.
- Revise these tax-credit scholarships so that all students and their families can use the awards to find personal tutors, hire education therapists as needed, pay for curricular materials, pay tuition for online classes, cover private school tuition, and pay for transportation needs to and from a child’s new school. Such changes will make the scholarships more like the education savings accounts now available in Missouri and Kentucky, as well as Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
If Virginia parents are struggling to regain hold of their child’s future, lawmakers can help by giving more families the opportunity to customize their students’ learning experiences.
This piece originally appeared in the Institute for Family Studies