"We will not hide them from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he has done".Psalm 78:4
In 1998, Pastor Mark Harris founded the Institute for Better Education (IBE), a Student Tuition Organization (STO). STO’s distribute tax credit scholarships to private and Christian schools. Mark told me IBE distributed $25,000 in scholarships that first year and he personally guaranteed the donors would receive tax credit. The newly adopted Tuition Tax Credit law was being seriously challenged and it was unknown if the donors would actually receive tax credit for their donations for scholarships. Donors did receive the tax credit and in 2020 IBE gave over $20 million in scholarships to private and Christian schools.
Years later in 2011, Mark Harris founded 4Tucson and has been our CEO ever since. School choice has been a 4Tucson priority from our conception. The Institute for Better Education was the very first strategic alliance with the 4Tucson Government Domain. On a personal note, before I started with 4Tucson, nearly 9 years ago, I served on the Board of Directors of IBE and was on the board when Kimberly Kirschner was promoted from IBE Office Manager to Executive Director. We are honored that this Friday, Kimberly Kirschner will be 4Tucson’s guest speaker at our Virtual Zoom Breakfast.
The fight to keep Tuition Tax Credit Scholarships didn’t end when the courts declared STO’s legal. Every year anti- school choice advocates and legislators attack the Tuition Tax Credit program and other school choice legislation. For years 4Tucson and IBE have worked together with other like minded organizations like the Center for Arizona Policy to champion school choice legislation.
We believe it’s a parents’ right to choose the best possible education for our children, regardless of the zip code. At this moment, with teachers unions refusing to go back to work, combined with questionable curricula in some district schools, a Christian education is more and more attractive to parents.
At this moment there are several school choice bills working their way through the Arizona Legislature.
· SB 1041 raises the cap for corporate tax credits for special needs and foster children.
· SB1118 expands scholarships for home school, new residence and former ESA students
· SB 1273 allows STO money to be used for standardized tests and some extracurricular expenses.
· SB 1452 opens Empowerment Scholarship Accounts to low income families . To learn more about these bills and others legislation that promote life, marriage & family and religious liberty, check out the Center for Arizona Policy Bill Tracker