The bill would give Alabama parents control over their children’s education choices

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by Craig Monger, 1819 news

MONTGOMERY — The long-awaited Parental Rights in Children’s Education (PRICE) Act, which would provide universal school choice in Alabama, has been introduced in the Alabama legislature.

The PRICE Act works similarly to bills passed in other states by creating Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).

Senate version of the bill, Senate Bill 202 (SB202), introduced by State Senator Larry Stotts (R-Tuscumbia). State Representative Ernie Yarbrough holds 295- Bill (HB295) at home.

Stutts and Yarbrough joined State Auditor Andrew Sorrell and representatives from the Alabama Policy Institute (API) and the Eagle Forum of Alabama (EFA) in introducing the legislation, emphasizing the importance of promoting choice in the state.

“The question of choosing a school has been around for a long time,” Stotts said. “A lot of other states are making steps in that direction, and I’m very happy to say we have what I think is a great school choice bill.”

The bill allows parents to apply for educational savings accounts (ESAs) for their children. Several countries are enacting global ESA programs because they provide the greatest flexibility. Money provided through tax credit vouchers and scholarships can only be used for tuition and fees, but ESA money can be used for many education-related expenses.

Yarbrough, who called on his experience as a child in a rural county, stressed the importance of school choice and the positive impact ESA can have on school quality.

“Choosing a school is first and foremost about giving parents a voice,” Yarbrough said. “It’s about getting their hands on the wheel of their children’s future. It’s also about strengthening the organic relationship between school and parents. It’s also about giving the free market influence. In America, we love the free market. We love capitalism and the idea that the free market and getting people involved helps raise quality.” and reduce costs.”

The state’s portion, which is about $7,000, will be given to create a program [ESA] said Education for All President Becky Gerritson. “That money that isn’t fully used that year, that can be used for private schools, homeschooling, online education, private tutors, can be transferred and used in the next year, and that can continue. Once the kid graduates, first, they don’t get More money in [ESA]; They have up to 21 years of age to use the money.”

A 13-person advisory board will administer the ESA program through the Department of Revenue.

Alabama House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainesville) and Senate Pro Team. Greg Reed downplayed the possibility of the full school selection option passing the legislature this year.

Despite this speculation, Stats expects broad support for the bill because of its merits.

“Of course, not many of my colleagues in the Senate have read the bill yet,” Stotts said. “…So as we introduce the bill, more members of both bodies can access the bill, and see it work through the committee process, I would expect broad support. Like Becky [Gerritson] He said, the bill is mainly about funding, but it’s also mainly about freedom and parental choice.”

He continued, “It’s really hard for me, and I know I’m the sponsor, and I’m biased, but it’s really hard for me to see how anyone can be against either of those concepts; giving parents freedom and raising education standards through competition.”

Several lawmakers have also expressed concerns about passing school choice due to the financial impact and lack of options in more rural areas.

Yarbrough and Stutts both pulled back from their experience growing up in rural counties, claiming that school choice would elevate those areas that had minimal choices with alternative education.

“Never underestimate the power of the free market, American initiative, and the American dream,” Yarbrough said. “There are few things that are so much more powerful than engaging grassroots voters than their children. So, I think we have an opportunity to watch something really special unfold.”

Stotts also said ESA services will improve rural schools, especially when parents can take EFA dollars to start a local school, online school, or home school.

“There are 400 or so non-public schools in the state, and a lot of the kids are already homeschooled, and that will provide them with additional resources,” Staats said. “You know, the argument that in some rural areas, there might not be a private school there, but again, there are 400 schools spread out all over that state, so most areas have a school that is easily accessible. But my opinion is that if You had a school that was underperforming and now that parents have the ability to take some money, they can start one.”

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