For Immediate Release
March 4, 2020
ATLANTA -- A bill to expand significantly a state program that provides taxpayer-paid tuition to private schools was the subject of a tense hearing this morning. The bill passed out of committee after almost two hours of debate and testimony by a 6-4 vote.
Joe Fleming, lobbyist for the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE), testified: “GAE stands on principle in opposing voucher bills because state taxpayer money should not be taken away from public schools to pay for private school tuition.”
Almost $34 million tax dollars flow into private schools each year, most commonly benefiting a year is the children of wealthy families. Vouchers rarely cover anywhere near the costs of many private schools, some with annual tuition of $35,000, $40,000 and higher.
According to Charlotte Booker, GAE President, “The current existing voucher amounts to about $6,000 a year. This is one of the reasons why private-school, taxpayer-funded subsidies are most commonly used by high-income families as they can afford to pay the balance for private school tuition whereas, low-income and working families cannot.
”The voucher bill approved extends eligibility to students with “504 plans” under the 1973 federal Rehabilitation Act - Accommodations for 504 students. Many 504 plans are temporary.
Nonetheless, once students qualify and are admitted to the private school voucher plan, the state-paid subsidy stays with them for the reminder of their education - even after a temporary disability has been resolved.
GAE is adamantly opposed to legislation of this type and will be asking legislators to defeat it and any like legislation.