Senate Set to Vote on Vouchers on Monday!
Lawmakers have added Senate Bill 233 to the calendar to be voted on by the full Senate chamber on Monday. If enacted this bill would represent the largest voucher expansion in Georgia and it only passed out of committee by one vote and they had to cut off public comment. We can’t wait or expect that this bill dies in the House. The best time for this bill to die was 65 years ago—the second best time is today.
- Call/email/text your senator and ask them to vote NO on Senate Bill 233.
- Focus on rural Republicans who have voted against vouchers in the past. While all our voices are needed, voters outside of metro Atlanta are going to be key here. Call these folks and if you know anyone who lives in the following senators’ districts, please implore them to call them too:
Be respectful while you remind them that even if vouchers were a good idea (they’re not), this policy is useless to their constituents. They need to support their communities with strong, inclusive public schools.
Even if you don’t live in the aforementioned districts, we’re hearing that some senators who support public schools are getting weary of continually voting against these bills. We need to remind our lawmakers that it is their constitutional responsibility to support ALL children, not private schools. Below are some talking points and details that could be of help.
Points of emphasis
- We need a fiscal note. Lawmakers deserve to have an accurate idea of how much this will cost the state before voting on it, especially if Georgia is going to enter into a recession this year. Some students (those entering pre-K, Kindergarten and first grade) don’t have to have ever been public school students, making this voucher a new expenditure for the state if their parents would have already enrolled them in private schools.
- This voucher prioritizes discriminatory private schools over Georgia public schools. The voucher provides $6,000 per student while Georgia general education public high school students only get $4,365.
- We cannot afford a private school voucher. Georgia schools are dealing with high inflation, looming health care increases, and continue to operate with stagnant bus funding and no money specifically to educate students in poverty. We cannot afford to divert millions to private schools.
- This voucher provides no protections for vulnerable students. Teachers at the voucher private schools aren’t even required to have a bachelors degree, and private schools don’t offer federal protections for students with disabilities, English-learners, etc.
- Georgia schools are operating with no funding to educate students in poverty, few school counselors, meager transportation funding that triggers school bus concerns, and continued low pay for teachers—we cannot afford to start financing a second, discriminatory system of education.
Senate Bill 233: the details
This voucher would provide $6,000 for private education expenses for every eligible student. Currently there’s no cap on enrollment or requirements on the type of student (previous voucher attempts try to use students with disabilities or low-income students as sympathetic vehicles for privatization).
How much would it cost?
There is no fiscal note on the bill (something that should be demanded of any bill of this magnitude), but follow along as we do some basic math. If 2 percent of students in Georgia used this voucher, that’s 35,018 participants. At $6,000 a voucher, we’re talking about $210,106,560 in public dollars lost every year.
Any student who has spent 6 weeks in a public school, or new pre-K, Kindergarten or first grade students. So basically every single child in public school plus many who will never attend.
What are “private education expenses?”
Could be private school tuition. Could also be tutoring, transportation, or “other expenses” authorized by a parent review committee. Voucher recipients only have to spend half of the dollars each year and, upon graduation, can roll the rest into college expenses. The rest of the state have to pay full college tuition.
Wait, what’s a parent review committee?
Yeah, I’m glad you caught that. The bill sets up a committee to review whether expenses are “educational.” The committee comprises 8 parents of eligible students. If it sounds sketchy it’s because it is sketchy.
SB154 Damages Literacy Efforts – Trust Our Librarians
Please contact your elected officials and urge them to trust our professional school librarians by voting against SB154.
The Georgia legislature is considering Senate Bill 154, which could result in school librarians facing up to a year in jail and $5,000 in fines for curating developmentally appropriate content in our schools.
There is disinformation being spread online that schools contain obscene materials, but this is not the case. The constitutionally protected books and materials in school libraries serve as tools for understanding complex issues, and limiting young people’s access to them does not protect them from life’s complex and challenging issues.
This bill removes the protection for librarians regarding information deemed “harmful to minors.” This broad term will limit the diverse content available for our students.
If you believe that educators are overwhelmingly working with the best intentions to provide engaging, developmentally relevant materials for our students in Georgia, please send a message to your own and other state senators, urging them to vote against SB154.
If you believe that educators are overwhelmingly working with the best intentions to provide engaging, developmentally relevant materials for our students in Georgia, please send a message to your own and other state senators, urging them to vote against SB154. You can copy and paste the emails below to message the committee members.
Senate Education Committee
SB 221 – Anti-Voting Bills Still Under Consideration – Please make the call!
Our call to action from late last week, still stands. We must keep contacting the legislators as described in this post.