- The Washington Times - Monday, December 11, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Well, folks. You asked the question, “How can I save for my children’s education?” and Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Mark Meadows have answered.

They proposed legislation for a savings plan that would allow parents to spend their savings on Montessori schooling, a home-school network and other educational options.

As part of the tax reform negotiations being hammered out in Congress, the Cruz-Meadows amendment would allow parents and grandparents to participate in 529 savings plans for K-12 schooling as they already can for children’s post-secondary education.

The proposal would allow families to save up to $10,000 per child.

The 529 college savings plans, in place since 1996, generally are administered by states and can be used for private, public, independent and religious schools.



Parents could begin saving as soon as their babies are born, which, of course, means the money can be an academic lifesaver for children whose neighborhood public schools don’t pass parental muster.

The K-12 plans also would provide a measure of financial comfort to military and diplomatic parents who move frequently.

The usual left-of-center suspects are critical of such savings plans and school choice, falsely fingering them as culprits that drain funding for public schools.

And some home-school groups are a bit jittery, and perhaps rightly so, if the concern is federal oversight being plopped on top of the current oversight of state and local authorities.

On the contrary, the money in the savings plans is family savings, and parents should be able to spend it on their children as they see fit.

In other words, the money is for the child, not the system.

Here’s Mr. Cruz explaining the proposal for himself.

“Last week was a big, big week,” the Texas Republican told Fox News. “The Senate got our act together and passed major historic tax reform. And one of the most consequential pieces about it was an amendment that I introduced, that we voted on late Friday night. What it does, is it takes 529 college savings plans, which many, many people have. They let you save in a tax-advantaged way for college expenses and are immensely popular. Parents, grandparents can save so that kids can go to college. My amendment expands 529s so now you can not only save to go to college, you can also spend from your 529 plan on K-12 education expenses for public schools, for private schools, for religious schools, for home-schooling. Up to $10,000 a year, you can save in a tax-advantaged plan and spend $10,000 per child. You are in charge of your kid’s education. It is the most far-reaching federal school choice legislation ever passed.”

For sure, the Cruz-Meadows proposal could prove to be a perfect fit for grandparents, childless couples, aunties and uncles who want to plan for their family’s future.

If the choice is a Montessori program outside their child’s ZIP code, fine.

If the choice is a Catholic school outside their family parish, OK.

If the choice is a private school, let the family go for it.

The 529 college saving plans are working for families, and adding K-12 will as well.

Congress and the White House, however, must steer clear of federal meddling — a lesson Uncle Sam can’t seem to get through his own thick noggin.

• Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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