Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Action Alert: Georgia Senate Set to Vote on Voucher Bill

Tomorrow, in what can only be called a Celebration of Hypocrisy, the anti-tax group, Americans for Prosperity join with pro-voucher forces to rally at the Gold Dome, urging the passage of SB 87, an expansion of Georgia's use of tax dollars to fund private schools. If you oppose school vouchers, stop reading and pick up the phone and call your state senator.

Can someone please explain to me how Republicans in the Georgia General Assembly can in the same year: 1) Slash HOPE; 2) Cut more than a billion dollars from education and 3) expand vouchers for private schools? It's like a game of "which of these things are not like the other." It makes no sense, and yet, it's true. And, of course, they require zero accountability to tax payers for the dollars going to private and religious schools. There's not even a requirement that the teachers be certified.

According to Alan Essig of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, this year Georgia Republicans are poised to slash more that a billion dollars from education spending, a move that will ensure larger class sizes, teacher furloughs and shorter schools years. The University System of Georgia, already stinging from cuts to HOPE, will have to educate 90,000 new students with no more money than the system had a decade ago.

Yet, tomorrow, the Georgia Senate will take up SB 87, a bill to expand the special needs voucher to three new groups:

  • Students who have a parent in the military, including the National Guard or Reserves
  • Students who are or who have ever been in foster care
  • Students who have a 504 plan

Regardless of the group, if tax dollars are going to be used to fund private schools, at a minimum, those schools should be held to the same accountability standards as public schools. All of teachers paid by tax revenue should be certified teachers. And, private schools that accept public funds should be required to administer the same standardized tests as public schools, and the results should be made public.

If Georgia taxpayers are going to be forced to fund private schools while school districts across the state struggle with budget shortfalls, then, at the very least, there should be accountability. Please make sure your voice is heard!


Anonymous said...

Whooa, anti-tax group? First time I heard about them. I think its better if there will be anti-corruption group. I wonder if there's updates about this.

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