Parents advocate for scholarship tax credits

Laura Keener, Editor.

Two local women — Cassandra Behanan and Nancy Deaton — will be traveling to Frankfort, Jan. 27, along with many others, for the Celebrating School Choice rally. The rally takes place during National School Choice Week, Jan. 26–Feb. 1. Neither claim to be very political, but both share the same passion for school choice and support scholarship tax credit legislation.

Scholarship tax credits would allow individuals or businesses to receive a state tax credit for contributing to a qualified non-profit organization — like the Diocese’s Alliance for Catholic Urban Education — that provide financial aid, or scholarships, to lower income families who choose a non-public school for their child.

Ms. Behanan works in the cafeteria at Zion Christian Academy (ZCA), Florence. She is the mother of five children; two adult children live on their own; her third oldest attends Northern Kentucky University and she has two children in primary school. With only one scholarship available to her at ZCA, Ms. Behanan made the difficult decision to have her youngest child join her at ZCA while keeping her middle-school aged son at the local public school.

“When I started working here and I saw how the school was run and how the children were learning, just the consistency, I thought if I couldn’t get both of them here right now, at least I could get one here,” Ms. Behanan said.

But moving her son to ZCA has taken on an added urgency. Last year her son encountered racism that led to a physical retaliation. And while she understands her son’s punishment for hitting another student, she was disappointed that the other student received no consequence for calling her son “the N word.”

“This was his first experience with racism and my son didn’t understand it. I had to explain to him that since he is bi-racial this may be the first time but it won’t be the last time,” she said.

Ms. Behanan has talked to her son on better ways to handle racism but she feels he would have a better social and academic experience that would ultimately help him be more successful at ZCA. At ZCA, Ms. Behanana said, the faculty and administration have the time to handle student conflicts before they escalate to a physical confrontation.

“Here if children have disagreements they sit down and talk it out and work it out. I’ve seen it work,” she said.
Seeing how different school environments can impact a child’s education motivates Ms. Behanan to advocate for Scholarship Tax Credits.

“When this opportunity came I couldn’t do nothing but run with it because I have a child in a public school and a private school, wishing they were both in a private school,” she said.

Nancy Deaton’s great grandson is a middle-school student at Holy Trinity School, Bellevue. When he was very young her grandson experienced a serious fall and suffers with a traumatic brain injury. His skull was fractured in several places requiring multiple surgeries and hospitalizations and a helmet.

In addition to his physical challenges, her grandson also bears the emotional burden of having a mother that is incarcerated and an absent father.

When it came time for him to go to elementary school, she wanted a small, private school where he “wouldn’t be put aside,” she said.
“I’m not criticizing public schools by any means — they do a good job and they are there to help any child — but he needed a little bit more feeling of security and he was able to get that in a smaller school,” Ms. Deaton said.

Ms. Deaton said now her grandson is “a regular” child.

“He has an emotional story and when I think about it, it brings the emotion back to it and my heart hurts,” she said. “Now I wonder how I did it.”

She said she is grateful for the scholarship that enabled her grandson to attend a private school and thinks more families should be able to choose a private school for their children, which is why she supports scholarship tax credits.

“Education is an absolute necessity and it should be offered at the school that will best serve the child, not because of your financial status or who you know. Hopefully Kentucky will pass the bill and it will do exactly what it is supposed to do — help children.”

For more information on Scholarship Tax Credits visit www.edchoicky.com. For information on National School Choice Week visit www.schoolchoiceweek.com.