Your Voice Needed as Voucher Bill Gains Steam
HB 60, which aims to create the state’s third private school voucher program, may be up for a vote in the House next week. The bill’s sponsor Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock), co-founded a private school, and requested today that the legislation be recommitted from the House Rules Committee to the House Education Committee. PAGE recommends members contact their House legislators to share concerns about HB 60. Problematic elements include:
Requirement that students with an Individual Education Plan or Section 504 Plan waive federal protections that guarantee services under those plans.
Broad eligibility criteria that make the program easy to misuse and open to most students, including no requirement that students attend a public school for a specific duration (e.g. one year) before seeking a voucher. Also problematic is the proposal's eligibility for students whose family income is up to 400 percent of the federal poverty line, which is $111,000 for a family of four. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines for 2022.)
Transfer of public school funds to private schools.
Insufficient transparency and accountability measures, which fall far short of those required of public schools.
Potential negative effects on student learning given vouchers’ poor track record in other states.
Lack of requirement that private school teachers be certified by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. While public schools can employ non-certified teachers, they do so after gaining approval from the State Board of Education or Georgia Department of Education following a comprehensive review of their strategic waiver or charter system applications and adherence to accountability contracts.
More information about private school vouchers is available from PAGE HERE.
Lawmakers should pursue more effective strategies to enrich student learning and improve outcomes by funding school counselors for special education and gifted students, keeping class sizes small for K-3 students and those who are behind academically, and developing a more comprehensive and student-centered approach to accountability.
How to Contact Your Legislator
Educators can find their representatives in the House HERE. Educators should use their personal (not school) email addresses and electronic devices to contact policymakers outside of instructional time.
The most effective advocacy ties factual messages to a legislator’s district and demonstrates the commitment of professional educators to the students they serve.
Tuesday, Feb. 22 – Legislative Day 19/PAGE Day on Capitol Hill, Register HERE
Wednesday, Feb. 23 -- Committee Work Day
House Appropriations Education Subcommittee, 9 a.m., 606 CLOB
House Academic Innovations Subcommittee, 9 a.m., 132 CAP
House Education Committee, 10 a.m., 132 CAP
Thursday, Feb. 24 -- Legislative Day 20