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Wednesday, March 1, 2023 - Day 26
Archive of Past Legislative Alerts 


Contact your state Senator now urging a "NO" vote on SB 233, an unprecedented bill that would give any student in Georgia a $6,000 state-funded voucher to be used at a private school of their choice.

Contacting your Senator is easy
Click here to get started.  Here you will find a sample letter for your Senator.  Please take the time to personalize this letter by introducing yourself and adding your words why vouchers are bad for public education in Georgia and your community.

SB 233 forces hard-working Georgians to pay the private school tuition of more wealthy families, from pre-K through high-school graduation.

If just 10% of the 1.75 million school children in our state take advantage of this handout, the bill would cost a billion dollars each year in taxpayer subsidies mostly for the Atlanta-area's private schools.

Unlike the state's existing "Special Needs" voucher program, which is limited to students with medical and learning disabilities, this scheme makes any student eligible ... without regard to family income.

There is little oversight in the bill to assure the public that their tax dollars are well-spent or efficiently spent.  A committee of participating parents will oversee expenditures of the program.  The bill requires a survey of participating parents to see how happy they are to be getting state-funded private school assistance.

Given the financial needs of public schools, this money would be better spent on a myriad of funding needs such hiring more teachers, counselors, social workers, and school psychologists, and improving the pay and benefits of all educators.  Legislators could easily ensure high-speed internet throughout the state and in rural Georgia with what the bill would cost.

The General Assembly could fund the transportation costs increasingly born by local systems and provide additional funding for schools that have a high number of students living in poverty.  Many teachers in Georgia spend hundreds of dollars of their own money each year just to pay for school supplies for their students.

Since 2003, Georgia has slashed $11 billion from public education.

In 2021, the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts wrote of the current voucher program in Georgia: "
Additional steps are needed to improve transparency and accountability of the student scholarship program
."  Vouchers proponents have routinely resisted efforts to bring academic accountability and financial transparency to Georgia's existing voucher programs.

Vouchers bills like SB 233 offer false hope to many families.  The subsidy falls far short of the actual tuition costs of many private schools in Georgia, some with the tuition and fees totaling more than $30,000-a-year.  The bill does nothing for rural areas in Georgia where there are no private schools.

Legislation just like SB 233 was rejected by the Georgia Senate last year, with 29 Senators voting against it.

Private schools in orange counties benefit the most from SB 233.
Counties in white or yellow will be donor counties to private schools in other counties.

Click here to tell you Senator "NO" on SB 233.

Bill to strengthen duty-free lunch laws up in House Education Committee tomorrow

HB 340, a bill that would strengthen duty-free lunch laws in grade K-5, will be heard in the House Education Committee tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m.  The hearing will be live-streamed at: https://vimeo.com/showcase/8988927?autoplay=1.

The bill also adds 30-minutes of planning time in grades 6-12.  While the bill, if it becomes law, could be waived by school systems, it is an important step in recognizing the needs of educators and draws attention to some of the reasons why educators today feel such stress and burnout.  From the measure:

"Every teacher who is employed in grades six through 12 for a period of time of more than one-half of the class periods of the regular school day shall be provided a daily planning period of not less than 30 consecutive minutes, and such employee shall not be assigned any responsibilities during such planning period ...

... This duty-free planning period shall not be calculated under any circumstances as a part of any daily lunch period or other noninstructional time."

Gender identity bill tabled in committee;
Measure is likely dead for the year

SB 88
was tabled today in the Senate Education Committee.  The bill would have required written parental consent for a student to change their gender identity on school records.  The bill proposed banning so-called "drag-show" performances or reading periods in schools.

As introduced, t
he bill conflicted with mandatory reporting requirements of educators by prohibiting conversations with students on matters of a "sensitive nature."  For example, if a student wanted to discuss abuse by a parent or guardian with an educator or counselor, they would need the permission of the abusing parent.

The legislation also attempted to create a statewide dress code for educators, by banning dress in a "sexually provocative manner," without definition of that phrase.

In a separate action, the committee passed 6-4 SB 147, which appears - at least in some instances - to transfers equalization grants from poorer school districts to wealthier ones when a student transfers districts.  Equalization grants are additional funding from the state for lower-wealth school systems that lack an inadequate tax base to fund their schools.

House approves education bills

The Georgia House of Representatives today passed HB 51, a bill designed to allow schools to provide transportation in vehicles other than school buses when less than eight students are involved.  The vote was 164-0.  The bill now goes to the state Senate.

The House also gave its approval to HB 338, a bill to require school districts to place anti-obsenity filters on school devices and system-provided Wi-Fi, internet, or hot spots.  The bill passed 163-0.

The House passed HB 130, to allow for student loan repayment for peace officers of up to $20,000.  Sounds like a great idea for public-school educators.

Senate passes education bills today

SB 86 passed the Senate this afternoon.  The bill would allow eligible students participating in the Dual Enrollment program to access HOPE career grant funds for certain CTAE courses, irrespective of whether they have reached maximum credit hour caps.  The bill was adopted 55-1.

The Senate also voted 52-0 for SR 175 to create
Joint Study Committee on Dual Enrollment for Highly Skilled Talent at Younger Ages.

Next Update will be Thursday, March 2

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