School Choice Advances in the States

The pandemic has been a revelation to many Americans about union control of public schools that refuse to reopen. This awakening helps fuel some welcome reform advances as multiple state legislatures move Expand school choice.

A breakthrough is in West Virginia, where lawmakers passed legislation creating the state’s first Education Savings Account (ESA) program. GOP Governor Jim Justice signed it on Saturday. The law requires the state to set up ESAs by July 2022.

The funds would initially be available to students currently enrolled in a public school or about to enter kindergarten, with no limit on the number of qualified students. In 2026, home and home students could be eligible if program participation represents less than 5% of national school enrollment. The State Department of Education estimates that students will receive approximately $ 4,600 each in the first year of the program – the average state grant per student. Families can use the funds for private lessons, tutors, and more. “This is a program that funds children,” says Senator Patricia Rucker.

In the meantime, the House in Georgia passed a law last week designed to expand eligibility for the state voucher program for students with special education. The Senate, which had already passed the bills, voted Monday to approve House amendments, and the bill will be sent to Republican Governor Brian Kemp’s desk.

In South Dakota, Republican Governor Kristi Noem signed a bill this month extending eligibility for the state’s tax credit scholarship program to students already enrolled in private schools. Last school year, nearly 800 students received scholarships totaling approximately $ 1,800.

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