Contact House Ed Members Now – Ask Them to Fund Georgia Literacy Initiative, Not Divert Additional Public Funds to Private Schools
SB 233, sponsored by Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming), is scheduled to be heard in the Policy Subcommittee of the House Education Committee on Monday, March 20, at 8 a.m. The bill would create a new type of private school voucher—an Education Savings Account, or ESA—that would send $6,000 to each participating student, every year. The program would join the state’s two existing voucher programs, which carry a combined price tag of about $150 million annually. High-quality evaluations of voucher programs found voucher students did worse academically than students in public schools. Read more about SB 233 in a brief from PAGE.
Also moving through the legislature is HB 538, the Georgia Early Literacy Act, which aims to help more students read on grade level by the end of third grade. The bill is a bipartisan initiative sponsored by freshman legislator Bethany Ballard (R-Warner Robins), a former teacher. HB 538 requires the State Board of Education (SBOE) to approve high-quality instructional materials for K-3 students and use of universal reading screeners in all K-3 public school classrooms. It also requires the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) and Regional Education Service Agencies (RESAs) to develop K-8 teacher training on the science of reading, structured literacy, and foundational literacy skills. Public school K-3 teachers would complete training, develop reading intervention plans for students with significant reading deficiencies, administer norm-referenced formative reading assessments to K-2 students under the bill. The Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) would create and implement a teacher certification reading endorsement. HB 538 is scheduled to be considered by the Senate Education & Youth Committee at 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 21.
GaDOE has prepared a cost estimate of HB 538, indicating a total implementation cost of $80- $92 million.
PAGE has testified in support of the Early Literacy Act’s goals but strongly urged policymakers to identify funding for the plan. No appropriation has been made, but policymakers are poised to divert additional state funds to a new voucher program. Though PAGE and other education groups have requested an official state fiscal note estimating the cost to implement SB 233, that request has not yet been granted.
Please contact members of the House Education Committee now and ask them to fund early literacy, not more vouchers for private schools which will not be required to implement enhanced literacy instruction.
As always, educators should use their personal (not school) email address and electronic device and contact policymakers outside of instructional time. The most persuasive legislator messages are personalized and demonstrate an educator’s commitment to the students the educator serves. Educators can use SB 233 talking points from the PAGE Day 35 Capitol Report, in addition to personalized stories about their school community.
Georgia educators, students, and taxpayers want Georgia elected officials to stand up for literacy, fiscal transparency, academic accountability, and Georgia public schools.
House Education Committee Members Contact Information