Cronkite Header

Cronkite News has moved to a new home at Use this site to search archives from 2011 to May 2015. You can search the new site for current stories.

Catholic schools rally urges lawmakers to keep tuition tax credit

Email this story
Print this story

PHOENIX – When Victor Ribakare came to the United States from the Democratic Republic of Congo almost 13 years ago, his parents wanted to give their son a quality education. And thanks to school choice policies in Arizona, he said, they were able to afford it.

Ribakare, now a senior at Brophy College Preparatory, spoke in front of about 1,000 students gathered for Wednesday a Catholic schools rally at State Capitol rally timed with National School Choice Week.

He and others credited their ability to attend Catholic schools to school tuition organizations – in Ribakare’s case, the Brophy Community Foundation. Those groups award scholarships from private-education tax credits that allow individuals and corporations to redirect tax dollars.

“The Brophy Community Foundation has taken a lot of pressure off my parents, which made it easier for me to focus on my studies instead of worrying about the burden that my education might be on my family,” he said.

State legislators including House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, and Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, and Republican State Treasurer Doug Ducey attended the rally, as well did Roman Catholic bishops.

The central message: Without policy makers supporting school choice legislation and tax credit funding by student tuition organizations like Catholic Education America, many students would be unable to afford Catholic school tuition.

“At this event, seeing the kids here and knowing the impact that the programs behind those walls are making on them, we feel it’s for the benefit of Arizona,” said Paul Mulligan, president and CEO of Catholic Education America. “Half of these kids are here on tax credit scholarships, and they wouldn’t be here without them.”

Biggs told the crowd that the school choice movement in Arizona is the best in the country, emphasizing that the tax credits are valuable to him and his fellow legislators alike.

“I want to tell you children how happy I am that you can go to the schools that most perfectly suit your needs,” he said. “That is truly one of the greatest blessings that we have here in this state today.”

The National Bank of Arizona also announced a $250,000 gift-match for scholarships to benefit low-income students.

“As a corporate sponsor we employ about 1,000 people, and one of the things that’s very important to us is the quality of education and the quality of our marketplace in Arizona,” said Pete Hill, the bank’s executive vice president and chief credit officer. “Catholic schools here do a phenomenal job at the elementary and high school levels getting kids ready for college, and we’ll ultimately be hiring some of those kids, so we want to contribute early and often.”