Joining a rapidly growing number of states across the country, with the stroke of a pen, Virginia finally went into the column of pro school choice states yesterday.
RENEWANATION congratulates all of the individuals and organizations who have worked tirelessly for this advance. We especially recognize the work of The Family Foundation who gives this report:
“Surrounded by children from Elijah House Academy and Precious Blessings Academy in Richmond, at a special ceremony at Elijah House Academy, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell yesterday signed the Education Improvement Scholarship bill, legislation that provides a tax credit for K-12 scholarship donations by individuals and businesses, and has the potential of providing thousands of families with new education opportunities.
After over two decades of effort, education freedom is finally a reality in Virginia!
Modeled after successful programs in Florida, Pennsylvania and Arizona that have provided scholarships for tens of thousands of children, Virginia’s new law has the potential of providing nearly 500,000 children with scholarships to attend the school of their choice.
At yesterday’s ceremonial bill signing, Governor McDonnell said, “Every Virginia student should have the opportunity to get a good education and develop their unique talents. The legislation signed today enlists the private sector to stretch state dollars further in providing greater educational opportunity to families who would otherwise have a financial barrier. I thank Senator Stanley and Delegate Massie for their leadership in the General Assembly and also thank all of the advocates, families and students for voicing their support for this measure.”
For several years, the bill’s chief sponsor has been Delegate Jimmie Massie (R-72, Henrico). Delegate Massie added, “Today’s signing ceremony marks an important step that Virginia is taking to change and improve our K through 12 education system. That is to best prepare our children to compete in a global economy! By signing this bill into law, students from low and moderate income families, and students with disabilities, will be given new opportunities to achieve their academic potential. As this legislation goes into effect next week, I look forward to working with and seeing the fruits of this partnership with members of the business community, and all Virginians, to help more Virginia students get a world-class education.”
Companion legislation to Delegate Massie’s bill was patroned in the state Senate by Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) and Bill Stanley (R-20, Moneta).
At the ceremony, a student from Elijah House Academy, Glenn Booker, wowed the crowd with his introduction of Governor McDonnell. Separated from his parents and living with his sister in an abandoned apartment, he moved in with his pastor and from there entered Elijah House Academy in 2007. He recently graduated at the top of his class and is headed to Old Dominion University. The goal of the scholarship program is to provide financial assistance to kids just like Glenn Booker all over Virginia.
Despite being labeled by liberals in Richmond as providing money to “wealthy private academies,” in fact the new law will provide new pathways to success for potentially thousands of low to middle income children in Virginia.
The signing of legislation that finally brings education freedom to families in Virginia is historic. Every child in Virginia deserves the best possible education, whether that is in a public, private or home school environment, and parents should have the choice of which is best for their children. The education scholarship tax credit will provide a lifeline for children and families that until now have not had an opportunity to succeed. The Family Foundation thanks everyone who made this day, more than 20 years in the making, possible.”