At the start of the school year, no one expected a pandemic to put the school year on hold. But now all of the state’s districts and charter schools are temporarily closed. While some students may not get any schooling before the start of the next school year, others are transitioning to online learning. As schools have closed, there has been a wave of concern regarding student’s ability to access technology such as computers or quality internet in order to continue learning online.
The best way to address this concern would be via an emergency tax-credit scholarship program. This tax-credit scholarship program could function much like a regular tax-credit scholarship program. Individuals and businesses donate to a scholarship-granting organization (SGO), and the SGO distributes the money to students who qualify based on the program requirements (the attached infographic has more detail on how the funding works). An emergency tax-credit scholarship could be awarded in cases such as the current pandemic, or in other cases such as natural disasters or even when individual families go through crisis.
Unfortunately, it seems very unlikely this type of program will pass this year. This is an important lesson about being proactive. If Missouri already had a tax-credit scholarship program, it would have been much easier to get kids the help they needed in a crisis. Instead, schools and districts are left scrambling to try and make something work without the resources required.
Tax-credit scholarships would help give families the ability to purchase the materials students need to keep learning even if it’s not in a traditional brick and mortar school. Lack of access to the internet or a computer are real barriers to learning for many students, but tax-credit scholarships could help fill that gap. Missouri can better prepare for unforeseen circumstances if only we would get a little creative.