School choice bill moves to Alabama Senate
By WVUA Digital Reporter Jas Orr
A bill in Alabama’s 2022 legislative session could give parents over $5,000 in funding from the state to send their child to private school instead of public school.
SB 140, or the Parent’s Choice Act is a proposed bill that has been approved by the Senate Education Policy Committee and is moving to the Senate floor.
The special fund is called the Parent’s Choice Program expense fund. This would redirect funding from Alabama public schools and put it directly into the hands of parents.
Parents can use the money for services provided by a public school, like extracurricular activities or private classes, tuition and fees at participating private schools, tutoring services not provided by a family member, fees associated with standardized testing, any exams relating to college admissions, tuition and fees for prep classes, vocational classes, online non-public school and summer classes.
Only students who are enrolled in and attending a public school, being homeschooled or entering kindergarten may apply for participating student status for the 2022-2023 school year. For the following school year, those enrolled in and attending a nonpublic school and whose family had an adjusted gross income up to 200% of the federal poverty level for the preceding tax year (2022) may apply for participating student status. After that, any student, regardless of income, can apply.
Republican State Sen. Del Marsh introduced the bill, and said he is hopeful that Republican majority leaders can come to a compromise.
The bill is opposed by many public school teachers, who are concerned about the bill’s ability to take money away from already budget-conscious public schools.
“The Parent’s Choice Bill is nothing but a shell game of a voucher program to divert funding from our community schools. Alabama’s students and educators cannot afford to take almost a half a billion dollar hit from public education,” the Alabama Education Association, which represents public school teachers and employees, said in a statement about the bill.
If passed, the bill will be implemented before July 1.