Once again, some members of the Legislature have come together to further strangle the state’s public schools. House Bill 243 would allow parents to shift the state funding for their child to a private institution. Let’s say a district allots $7,000 per student. That money could be used to pay for private education. Before you believe this idea is meant to give parents choice, think again. It is a mechanism to encourage and pay for private education for those already thinking about private education, And while there are stipulations that the program would only be open to students enrolled in public schools the previous semester, think how many parents choose private schools after elementary. The program would also be open to students entering kindergarten.
This program would skim precious educational dollars by allowing the Office of Student Achievement to oversee the program and take a 3 percent administrative fee for its trouble. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming, says the program would have an 8,500 student cap the first year and 17,000 the following year. Calculating the program’s administrative fee cost, using $7,000 per student, the 3 percent administration fee would drain approximately $1.7 million the first year and $3.5 million the second year.
What’s the purpose of this bill? It’s pretty transparent. It’s not designed to help the majority of public school students or parents. The average tuition for private education in Middle Georgia is $10,000 annually. In the Atlanta area, according to Atlantapros.com, private schools run from $7,100 at Holy Redeemer Catholic School to $55,000 at Brandon Hall School. No, this program is designed to help those parents who can already afford private education, while skimming more money from local school districts. By any other name, this is just another voucher program.