Voucher Bills Pass Committee, Head to Floor for Vote

Three voucher bills have passed out of committee and are headed to the floor for a vote. These bills funnel taxpayer dollars to private, virtual, and other non-public schools to pay the cost of tuition, activities, etc. Unlike public schools, the private entities receiving vouchers are not held accountable to taxpayers. 

HB 831 – Speech-Language Therapy Scholarship. HB 831expands an existing law, increasing considerably the voucher funding diverted from public to private schools. What is being framed as a technical amendment is really a significant expansion of the students who qualify for the voucher. A student’s voucher eligibility ends at sixth grade; neither parents nor taxpayers nor legislators will have any way of knowing whether the education that voucher kids are receiving is on par with the expectations in our public schools. These children could find themselves back in our public schools in seventh grade well behind their peers. Ask legislators to vote no.

HB 765 and SB 2325 – Individual Education Fund. These are companion bills that provide non-public school parents debit-type cards, pre-loaded with taxpayer funds, that they can use to pay tuition to private schools and for-profit providers with no accountability. The implication is that private school vouchers would be the equivalent of the fully funded MAEP amount – well above the underfunded amount that the rest of our children would receive. The bills purport to provide better services to children with special needs, though the private schools or providers receiving the voucher funds are not required to provide any special education services and are not required to comply with the IEP rulingAsk legislators to vote no.

Folks, it doesn’t matter what kind of fancy name they put on a voucher bill. Whether it’s called a “scholarship” or an “education fund” or whatever else they can dream up, it’s still a voucher that shifts taxpayer money away from public schools and into the private marketplace where there is no accountability for the quality of education being provided to these children. It is unconscionable that legislators want to funnel taxpayer dollars to private schools with no accountability while refusing to provide adequate funding to our public school children.

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