The Georgia House of Representatives Education Policy Subcommittee voted to pass SB 233, also known as “The Georgia Promise Scholarship Act,” in an Education Policy Subcommittee Meeting.
According to Senator and author of the bill Greg Dolezal, this bill will give students and parents more options regarding where they receive their education.
“What this bill does is continues to make the state investment for those students who are currently enrolled in public school if their parents choose to pursue a different educational path for their children,” said Dolezal in the meeting. The bill establishes education scholarship counts is $6,000. That is essentially about 10% less than the current statewide average of the school spending on the state side per capita in K-12 education. The bill will allow students who are currently enrolled in public schools to take advantage of the scholarship. The school must be in the lowest 25% of all schools in Georgia.”
In his explanation of why the bill was made, Dolezal said that it was targeted toward students in the lowest percentile of Georgia schools.
“This bill endeavors essentially to provide an option for them to get out of a failing school and to get in a school that may better serve their needs,” said Dolezal.
Members of the subcommittee voiced their questions and concerns with the bill, mentioning accountability in the school system and where students with the scholarship will relocate to. Concerned members of the subcommittee argued that this bill would take funding away from public schools that need it.
“What I don’t understand is why we keep doing this,” said Miriam Paris, a Georgia State Representative from the 142 district. “We have a school system that should be functioning and we continue to grab at the funds that are there for the public school. I liken it to we’ve got a house. It’s got an electrical problem about a $10,000 electrical problem. So instead of fixing that problem, we go and rent an apartment and decide we’re gonna stay in that. But now you’ve got two that you’ve got to pay for I think that we’re going down a very dark place.”
Later in the meeting, several students and parents voiced their support and opposition to the bill.
“I for one want to go with the bill because I have seen students that have been in my classroom for less than a day come from a public school and they thrive in this type of school,” said a student during the meeting. “I’ve seen them come in with like regrets of trying to even fit into those types of schools. And then after like one day of being there at a test day, they thrive they want to go here and they can with this bill, because like say some people cannot afford it without this help. And with this help, it will help students of the minority to focus more on education than what they’re going to pay.”
“I can say that this bill wouldn’t have expanded any sort of choice where I can attend,” said Mason Goodwin, another student present at the meeting. “Because this bill only allows $6,000 When the average tuition cost for private schools is about $12,000 in the state of Georgia.”
“If we actually want to help low-income students like myself, especially the ones in failing schools, we need to talk about the investment where 90% of our students actually are and when we do that, we can actually see positive outcomes,” said Goodwin.
After the audience got a chance to speak, voting regarding the bill began. The motion passed by a 7-5 vote.