School Vouchers, Voting Rights, Local Control of Board of Elections

School Vouchers – Still Alive – Just a Different Format

SB 47 expands voucher eligibility by adding more than 7,000 new ailments and diseases to the list of medical conditions that qualify students for existing “special needs” private school tuition subsidies.

Siphoning more money away from public schools to pay for private schools, SB 47 applies to students with Section 504 plans under the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. But by accepting an SB 47 voucher to pay for a private school, parents of students with disabilities forfeit their rights under this Section 504 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

SB 47 also qualifies students with:
-disorders identified by the National Institutes of Health’s Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center affecting an estimated 25 million to 30 million Americans,
– and individuals with any other conditions approved by the Georgia Board of Education at the request of parent(s) or guardian(s) or other “specific learning disability” or covered by a “doctor’s note.

Once eligible – even if the condition or disability is resolved – a student can keep his or her state-paid private school tuition voucher until 21 years of age, from pre-school to high school graduation, for up to 17 years. Use this tool from the Georgia Association of Educators to write to oppose this bill and then, please share with friends, family, and colleagues who care about public education.

Black Voters Matter – Corporate Accountability Calls
Please use the Google doc in this link to make your calls to hold corporations accountable for matching up their actions to the words of their diversity committees and defend the rights of Black and Brown voters in Georgia. Unfortunately, many donated quite a bit of money to those politicians who’ve authored the voter-suppression bills we’ve discussed here. This article gives a deeper dive into the funding provided and to whom. Please make your calls as shown in the document above and log your results.

Costs of Voter Suppression Bills to Counties
In spite of much push back a couple of years ago, Georgia purchased new voting machines instead of implementing a paper ballot system widely used by other states. These systems were expensive and many voting rights advocates were deeply opposed. Operating and maintenance costs associated with the machines were passed along to county boards of elections who then had to turn around and try to implement new voting systems during a pandemic. Implementation of these systems usually happens over the course of a year as counties work to train poll workers and develop protocols for use. Outside of costs, long lines experienced in June of 2020 were the direct result of the quick rollout of these machines. Now those proposing these bills will add more financial burden to counties. Who will pay for these extra expenses? The counties and the taxpayers who fund them, in other words, you! Which programs (schools, public health, roads, trash pick-up) will be cut to accommodate the rising costs of elections? Further, local control of Board of Elections will be subject to being taken over by the state. Unacceptable!

Read over this report of estimated costs and send a note to your county commissioners (focusing on those outside metro Atlanta) and ask how they will fund this and ask if they are aware that the state government could take over the board of elections, Ask them to contact your state representative and senator to oppose HB 531 and SB241 to protect the county budget, county taxpayers, and maintain the role of the county in overseeing the county board of elections. The Georgia Recorder has several articles on the legislation for a better understanding of these proposed laws.

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