School Choice

Lawsuit Would Block Alabama Tuition Tax Credit Law

Because not everybody has a better school nearby

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Parents in some rural Alabama counties are asking a federal court to block a new state law that gives tax breaks to families who transfer out of failing schools. They argue that their children aren't getting a fair shot at a quality education.

The law, passed in a controversial last-minute move by the state's Republican-controlled Legislature this year, provides a $3,500 tax credit for private school tuition or to offset the cost of transferring to a nonfailing public school. Tax breaks are also offered to people and businesses that donate to private scholarship funds to help students who can't otherwise afford to transfer.

Mariah Russaw, one of the plaintiffs, says she wants her grandson J.R., a seventh-grader, to finish high school. J.R. attends a school that is considered failing by state standards. Under the new law, the family is eligible for a tax credit to transfer to a better public school or approved private one.