On Friday, Turner introduced the Tax and Education Assistance for Children (TEACH) Act of 2012, which aims to provide a tax credit of up to $5,000 per year to families.
“Every parent knows that one of the most important and most expensive responsibilities of parenthood is educating their children,” Turner said as he stood at the entrance of St. Margaret's School in Middle Village. “But the best education is not always in the public school system; one size does not fit all. People have their own choices and beliefs.”
Turner said that the TEACH Act will effectively eliminate or minimize the effects of what he calls a double taxation, which parents who choose to send their children to private schools face.
“When a parent chooses to send their child to a non-public school, they no longer use resources of the public school system, but are still responsible for paying taxes that go toward the public school,” he said. “And on top of that they have to pay for the tuition of the non-public school – in essence, double taxation.”
If passed, the TEACH Act will provide parents who send their children to non-public schools a tax credit of up to $5,000 per year, per family.
“It will not pay for this education, but will go a long way in helping the parents, relieving a tremendous burden,” Turner said.
The bill is already receiving praise from parents and school administrators.
“There are so many parents I meet with on a regular basis who would very much like to either keep their children in private school or send their children to private school but cannot afford to do that,” said Philip Franco, principal of St. Margaret's School. “It would be a wonderful opportunity for all faith-based or even private schools to benefit the parents especially during these times that are very difficult.”
Kelly Redmond, a Middle Village resident and parent of a first-grader at St. Margaret's, is behind the bill.
“Wanting to send our child to St. Margaret's, we've made many sacrifices,” she said. “I think it would be foolish to not take a really good look at this. I think it's a long time coming.”
Some administrators are also saying that the bill is a win-win because it will help non-public schools increase their enrollment by making tuition more affordable, while reducing class sizes in public schools.
The bill also has support from the Diocese of Brooklyn. “We hope that other representatives in Congress will also choose to support the TEACH Act and the many families that it will undoubtedly assist,” said Stefanie Gutierrez, spokesperson for the diocese.
Turner believes the bill will gain support in Congress.
“I have some confidence that with hard work it will be able to get through the House this year,” he said. “We need a lot of support to get this moving.”
He said he expects some opposition to the bill but is ready to start a dialogue.
If passed, the bill would qualify and help parents of over 75 private schools within Turner's ninth Congressional District, which covers parts of Queens and Brooklyn.