live: Demonstration on George Floyd death planned for 2 p.m. in NormanReport: Thunder chairman Clay Bennett speaks up for small-market teams

NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Point of View: Positive Tomorrows supports expanding tax credits for all schools

Susan Agel
Susan Agel

"Do most good for the most kids" (Point of View, March 11) was akin to the politics of divisiveness we too often see at the federal level. To see a public policy discussion devolve into “our kids vs. your kids” here in Oklahoma is unsettling and must be stopped before this sentiment grows.

Instead of trying to divide students and schools into winners and losers, we need to look at how we are going to educate all of our children. We are all in this together. Our city, state and overall society works best when every child has access to a quality education.

While the author paints Positive Tomorrows in a negative light due to our community’s financial commitment to children in homelessness, we believe a more productive approach would be to see how we can use this momentum to help all of our schools. Senate Bill 407 does just that. It helps children who have special needs that are difficult to meet in a traditional public school get the education they require, while also helping take that burden away from our schools and providing an incentive for willing donors to help public schools as well.

For 30 years, Positive Tomorrows has had a positive working relationship with those in the public schools. At Positive Tomorrows, we seek to serve those who, because of their housing situation, find it difficult to succeed in public school. We don’t charge tuition, but instead rely upon the generosity of the community and the state tax credit to educate 102 students so far this year who are chronically, desperately homeless. We work intensively with the whole family to create stability and to get students back to grade level so they can successfully reintegrate into the traditional public schools.

As pointed out in the op-ed, our situation was essentially mandated by federal legislation known as the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act. In the author's bizarre “us versus them” world, it is somehow a detriment that we are providing — at no cost to the public school system — the support homeless children need to become successful students, then returning them to the public school system. Individual teachers working in traditional public schools regularly tell us that they aren't equipped to help the children we serve.

SB 407 is an innovative and proven way to bring more money to help educate our children. Not only would it help encourage charitable contributions to provide a scholarship to a homeless student at Positive Tomorrows, it also incentivizes contributions to public school foundations.

Educating our children is not a win-lose scenario. We can help the most vulnerable and our public schools. SB 407 does exactly that.

Agel is president and CEO of Positive Tomorrows.

Comments