School choice is looking to be a hot topic in the upcoming state legislative session, and the Eagle Forum of Alabama is already supporting a bill to get the discussion going on day one.
Eagle Forum of Alabama executive director Becky Gerritson said on Friday's episode of Rightside Radio that the bill — known as the Parental Rights in Children's Education (PRICE) Act — takes the best parts from school choice bills passed in other states like Arizona and West Virginia, and looks similar to the bill that failed to make it through Alabama's legislature last year with some key differences.
"I definitely think there is more momentum this year. I think there is definitely an appetite. People were hungry for [school choice] last year … it just didn't quite happen," Gerritson said. "...What makes this bill a little bit different … it has to provide freedom for the parents without the strings. It's their taxpayer money, it is their child, and so this bill is keeping the money with the child."
The money would go into a designated education savings account (ESA), she said, for parents to use on tuition, school uniforms and supplies. The new program would be phased in over three years and would be available for all students – not based on income level.
"So when a parent wants to pay their tuition or buy their books or whatever, it goes from that ESA account directly to the vendor," she said.
Gerrrtison said she expects changes to be made as it makes its way through the House and Senate, but one thing that won't change is laws related to homeschooling and private schools.s.
"Several times in this bill, it is reiterated that those laws do not change. What is working now for the private schools and the homeschoolers is a great thing, and we don't want that to change," she said.
"I think parents are really going to love this [bill]... These parents want the freedom to teach their children or have them attend a school that teaches a curriculum that they like, that's not woke, and is different than what might be on another test."
Gerritson said State Sen. Larry Stutts (R-Tuscumbia) would be carrying the PRICE Act in the Senate, and Ernie Yarbrough (R-Trinity) would be carrying it in the House.
"It's time for this. The 'PRICE' is right," she said.
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