Two bills proposed in the Georgia Legislature, House of Representatives Bills 60 and 999, will give individual families a $ 6,000 grant to apply for homeschooling, private schooling or tutoring. However, some parents and educators believe these bills will divert money from public education.
Buzz Brockway, vice president of public policy at the Georgia Center for Opportunities, spoke to the WDUN Newsroom to explain the purpose and necessity of Bills 60 and 999.
“The idea is that money should go after the child, and parents can manage that,” Brockway said. “These two bills will give parents the opportunity to use them for things like private or home schooling. Parents of children with mental and physical disabilities may be able to receive additional therapy or training for other parents. This allows parents to control the money spent in the name of their child.
The two bills differ in funding mechanisms. The House of Representatives Bill 60 will use quality education dollars in parent-managed accounts, while the House of Representatives Act 999 will create a separate program funded by the legislature.
With the House of Representatives bill 999 there is a risk of a change of legislature. Brockway prefers the House of Representatives bill 60 because Governor Kemp and former Governor Deal first funded the QBE for the first time.
“All of this extra money came from the federal government and will continue to come over the next three years to address the problems posed by the pandemic,” Brockway said. “Now public schools have the money, and it’s a great time to empower parents.”
With the number of students in charter schools in Georgia growing by 9%, Brockway says parents want choices in their children’s education.
“Parents in poll after poll say they don’t want things to go back to what they were before the pandemic,” Brockway said. “They want change. Part of that change is that parents want to be empowered. ”
The future of House Bills 60 and 999 remains uncertain after House Speaker David Ralston announced they are dead. However, Brockway and supporters of both bills still hope they will be passed this year.
One of the most challenging aspects of these bills is balancing the different perspectives of parents on what material should and should not be taught in the school curriculum. According to Brockway, these debates should be addressed at the local level in a respectful manner that allows teachers to do their job and parents to be aware.
“The goal is to make sure children learn and meet standards,” Brockway said. “And there are different ways to get there. I think that’s why the emphasis is on transparency. That’s why we believe that choosing a school is very important, because if you have an opinion that disagrees with your school board, you have to have options. ”