School Privatization Bills on a Fast-track Across the Nation

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Here is a summary of some of the bills we are following: 

Arizona 

Over three years, Senate Bill 1041 would increase the amount the state spends on corporate School Tuition Organization vouchers, from $5 million to $20 million. 

Senate Bill 1058  requires schools to compile and publish a list of every resource used in classrooms the previous year — including online videos, articles, and websites. The purpose is to allow the parent to opt their child out if they do not agree with the instructional content. The bill does not apply to private schools, including those whose students receive vouchers, and charter schools have more relaxed rules. 

Another urgent bill is Arizona SB 1452. This massive ESA expansion was also passed by the full Senate.


Arkansas

House Bill 1371 will create the Arkansas Child Academic Opportunity Scholarship and Grant Act. If passed, “scholarships” to private or religious schools could be given to any family with income less than 200% of the poverty level. It is a dollar for dollar income tax credit program. 

Lower-income families, certain military families, and foster families who choose private schools would be eligible to receive scholarship accounts up to approximately $7,000. 


Florida 

Florida SB 48 aims to merge and expand the multiple voucher programs that already exist into two large programs. 

If passed, this bill would also reduce the frequency of audits to detect fraud from every year to once every three years, increase the yearly growth rate of voucher programs, and via ESAs, expand the use of public funds.


Georgia 

House Bill 60 is a neo-voucher that would allow students who withdraw from a local public school to take state funding with them to use as a scholarship to a private school. In Georgia, about 50% of school funding comes from the state. This would have a devastating effect on school districts who would likely lose far more than they would save by an individual student’s withdrawal.


Indiana  

 House Bill 1005 would greatly expand the state’s voucher program allowing families with annual  incomes up to $145,000 to participate. That amount is near twice the median income of families in the state and provides taxpayer assistance to families who can already comfortably afford to send their child to a private school. 

Some 12,000 students already attending such schools would be eligible for state funding–costing taxpayers $100 million in the first year alone. In addition, the bill would add a new “Education Savings Accounts,” which would be made available to parents with students with special needs. 


Iowa 

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has proposed SSB 1065, (also known as SF 159) which is being fast-tracked through the state Senate. This “school choice” bill would provide up to $5,200 per student in “state scholarships” for parents to use for private school tuition or homeschooling expenses. 

It would greatly expand charter schools in the state by allowing applicants to start a charter school by going straight to the state board, bypassing the school district. 

It would also allow students to transfer out of their local public schools under a voluntary or court-ordered diversity plan, in a shocking proposal that would allow parents to run from integration. 

According to Senator Pam Jochum, “it will take about $54 million and shift it from public education to private.”


Kansas

 House Bill 2068 and Senate Bill 61 are allegedly designed to expand school vouchers in the state via a tax credit program. They are, at their core, an attempt to create a taxpayer-funded invitation to discriminate. 

According to the Kansas School Boards Association, these bills would allow private schools that discriminate in admissions based on achievement, religion, gender, disability, or sexual preference to participate in the tax-credit program. They would neither be required to be accredited nor report student results. 


Kentucky 

House Bill 149 would create a new “Education Opportunity Account” program that would allow participants to divert their tax dollars into accounts to be used as voucher funds for private or parochial school tuition. 


Missouri 

There is only one intent of Senate Bill 55–to destroy public education in Missouri. 

The bill: 

  • Requires an election to recall a school board member if a petition is submitted signed by at least 25% of the number of voters in the last school board election. 
  •  Creates up to $100 million in tax credits for donations to an organization that gives out scholarships for students to attend a home school or private school – including for-profit virtual schools.
  • Authorizes charter schools to be opened in an additional 61 school districts.

The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee will hear HB 729 (O’Donnell) on 2/2.  HB 729 is essentially the same as the voucher, charter school expansion and virtual school expansion portions of SCS/SB 55.

Two new voucher bills have been introduced. HB 288 (Christofanelli) and HB 540 (Fitzwater).  HB 288 is a companion bill to SB 23 and the voucher portion of SB 25.  HB 540 is a tax credit style voucher that puts some program administration under the control of the State Treasurer.  
To be heard in the House Elementary and Secondary Education committee on February 2:
HB 349 (Christofanelli) tuition tax credits
HB 540 (Fitzwater, Travis) tuition tax credits
HB 729 (O’Donnell) charter school expansion (cities over 30,000) and tuition tax credits

To be heard in the Senate Education Committee on February 2:

SB 95 (Onder) expanding virtual education and SB 218, (Leutkemeyer) charter schools


Nebraska

Nebraska: LB 364 The Opportunity Scholarship Act Establishes “opportunity scholarships” for private and religious school tuition.  Contributions would result in up to a 50% tax credit against State income taxes. Funds from this account would be distributed as tuition aid for students to attend private and religious schools. 


New Hampshire

House Bill 20 would create a universal voucher program entitled “Education Freedom Accounts,” which would take state dollars from monies allocated to support public schools and give them directly to parents to use for private school tuition, homeschooling costs, and other education-related expenses. The per-student amount would range from  $3,786 and $8,458 based on eligibility and costs.

According to the nonprofit, Reaching Higher New Hampshire HB 20, as proposed, would be the most far-reaching voucher bill in the country.

  • HB 20, as proposed, would be the most far-reaching voucher bill in the country.
  • HB 20 has substantially fewer protections for students, less transparency and oversight of public funds, and almost no accountability for ensuring that programs funded by taxpayer dollars are being used appropriately or effectively.

North Carolina

HB32 would expand the already existing voucher program, the Opportunity Scholarship program, by expanding eligibility, increasing the amount of the voucher, and increasing funding for marketing and administering the program. It would also merge the program with the existing Education Savings Account program, which puts tax dollars on a debit card for parents to spend on private educational services in lieu of attending a public school. It would even allow vendors to charge “transaction or merchant fees” of up to 2.5% of all spending. 

These changes to a program that already diverts millions of dollars away from public schools would add $159 million in additional costs over the next nine years.

Washington

WA SB 5200  Establishes a tax credit of up to 100% for contributions to a designated scholarship granting organization for tuition to a private school or private tutoring service. Students who received special education services or are in foster care would be eligible. 


Watch the Fighting Voucher Legislation in 2021: An Update on State Voucher Bills and Tools to Oppose Them Webinar

Across the country, conservative state legislators are sponsoring “school choice” bills that would divert public funds to charter schools, online schools, and/or private and religious schools and homeschools.  

The 2020 election resulted in gains for Libertarian Republicans in statehouses, who are now aggressively pushing school voucher and charter expansion bills. These bills would have a devastating impact on the funds available to support public schools struggling through the pandemic.   

But of course, that is the point. Make no mistake. Those proposing these bills are hostile to both the idea and the ideals of district-run public schools.


Please read and share our fact sheets to educate your community and your legislators about vouchers and other forms of privatization

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