Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) CEO David Bronner advocated against education voucher programs in the RSA’s most recent newsletter, suggesting parents receiving vouchers for their children’s education can’t be trusted to spend that money responsibly.
Voucher programs, similar to the education savings accounts (ESAs) considered by the Alabama Legislature, allow parents to use government funds to send their children to the school of their choice rather than being limited to the publicly funded and publicly governed school where they are zoned.
Though state lawmakers drafted the Parental Rights in Children’s Education (PRICE) Act, which would have instituted ESAs in Alabama, the legislation did not make it to the House or the Senate floor.
Nevertheless, Gov. Kay Ivey said her office would prioritize passing some sort of ESA legislation in next year’s legislative session.
Bronner, a frequent critic of school choice programs despite having sent his children to private school, pointed to Florida’s new voucher program signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in March as evidence of education voucher failure.
The Florida bill made all students eligible for education vouchers, including home-schooled students. It also established ESAs for expenses such as tutoring and exam fees.
Bronner said Florida parents have used the vouchers for Disney World passes and entertainment devices. He referenced an article in the Tampa Bay Times, which claims the Florida law permits parents to purchase such items using voucher money.
“Do Alabama taxpayers want their valuable taxes to be spent this way?” Bronner asked. “Removal of income caps for voucher programs and allowing parents to directly spend taxpayer monies is a recipe for abuse. Will a parent with a drug, alcohol or gambling problem really worry about their kids’ education?”
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