Currently proposed legislation for at-risk public school students is an ill-considered mistake. At this writing, part of a bill moving through the Kansas House, if passed in its present form, would set poor precedents for school choice and is fraught with unintended consequences.
The existing law allows low-income K-12 students, who are designated at high risk by their schools and attend the 100 lowest performing schools, to receive as much as $8,000 in state scholarships for private schooling. The funds are made possible through tax credits.
The proposed bill increases the number of scholarship recipients by allowing qualifying students in any school to receive scholarship funding. In addition, it assigns the approximate per pupil $4,500 per year of base state funding to “individual savings accounts” and allows these students to draw down their funds yearly to use for private school tuition and other educational needs. Since about 50 percent of Kansas students receive free or reduced-fee lunches, this could result in a major decrease in current school funding.