The Georgia Senate has tabled a new school voucher bill for now. In short, there will be no expansion of the program this year.
The state already provides vouchers for special needs students, allowing a few thousand to attend private schools at the expense of taxpayers. What the Senate is proposing now is to widen the gate of eligibility. It wants to grant the payment of private school tuition to foster children and to students with moderate disabilities, as well as to the sons and daughters of parents who serve in the National Guard or in other branches of the military. That could get quite expensive.
What this proposed expansion of the program tells voters about the politicians they send to Atlanta is indeed alarming, regardless of how one feels about vouchers. It tells them that politicians are not overly concerned about balancing the state budget during a tough economic time.
It also further reinforces the adage about giving someone an inch. What started out as a program for a few thousand would, under the Senate bill, be opened to tens of thousands more.
Even more frightening than all of that is what it tells counties and cities in Georgia about their public school systems. The state General Assembly has absolutely no faith in them and is ready and eager to provide students and their families bailout packages, courtesy of taxpayers.
That’s an insult to the thousands of teachers who are trumpeting the cause of education 180 days a year in hundreds of classrooms across this state. It’s telling them, in crystal clear language, that there are lawmakers who do not trust them with the future.
Well, school systems across this state have news for legislators. They’re wrong, and they prove it every day of every year.
Here’s an idea: Take whatever funds legislators were willing to put toward more private school vouchers and invest it in public school education, which serves far more preteens and teens.