Inching towards school choice

With all the commotion over the debate and vote on the Property Tax Reform Amendment (the plan formerly known as GREAT), I completely overlooked the passage of SB 458, legislation that would provide vouchers for failing schools:

A bill that would grant vouchers to children who are in schools that consistently underperform or lose their accreditation — which could happen to Clayton County schools this year — narrowly passed the Senate after hours of debate Wednesday.

The bill, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson (R-Savannah), allows students in chronically failing schools to transfer to public or private schools. In a system like Clayton, parents would receive vouchers for $4,100, the state’s portion of education funding per child, if they chose a private school.

Johnson said the bill gives parents a “life line” to get out.

“If we’re on the Titanic, let’s put the children in the lifeboats and worry about who hit the iceberg later,” he said.

The bill passed 32-21.

You can view the roll call vote here.

A debt of gratitude is owed to Sen. Eric Johnson for continuing to take up the fight for school choice.


  1. boyreporter says:

    A raid on the public treasury (vouchers for private schools) is no way to help public schools improve. Besides — hello — private schools can pick and choose; they don’t have to take anyone they don’t like, unlike public schools who have to serve everyone…and therefore need more support, not less. Voucher advocates have drunk the Neal Bortz “government schools” are bad Kool-aid. There are many excellent public schools and some are pitiful. Let’s help the latter, rather than adding to their problems.

  2. Goldwater Conservative says:

    thankyou boyreporter. The entire vouchers idea is garbage. Theoretically it is not too bad, but these vouchers are “coupons” for wealthier people to use as discounts for their children’s private school tuition. Also, the voucher system will inevitibly lead to a market correction. Why should private schools (businesses) not seek more money. Sure they are technically npos, but more money in the door gives them more money to spend (teacher and admin. pay, supplies, facilities, etc)….so sure give everybody vouchers, but don’t you neocons dare pi$$ and moan when tuition costs increase correspondingly/the bar becomes set to high for your average child to even get in (thats right, having an honor roll child in this state does not mean a whole lot…they are still behind the curve).

  3. boyreporter says:

    Well put, GC. The $4,100 voucher wouldn’t buy into most good private schools, so where are the modest-income families accepting the vounchers going to get the rest? Also, vouchers could spur the sudden opening of hundreds of new, barely adequate private schools as free-marketers try to cash in on the voucher bonanza, charging only that amount. Unintended consequences, and all that. But the main idea is the one you raised: vouchers simply would be a subsidy to those already in private schools.

  4. Tom Smith says:

    I am on a School Board and agree with you. Not for the obvious reasons of “losing” money” but it won’t have the impact people are looking for. Right now there is a law that allows you to transfer to another school if your zoned school has ‘failed”. Very, very few take advantage of it.

    If there was a voucher law that gave parents $10,000 many would not choose a private school assuming they could get in. What would happen is a large upstart of poorly run church schools that would take the money and offer a canned education. Either way vouchers don’t scare me.

  5. Hank Reardan says:

    How about me not paying for your snotty nose brats to go to these horrible govrnment schools. How about I just keep my money and you keep your money and we call it even.I send my child to a private school but then again i love my child and I want the best for my child. I am not here to save your government schools or end them I just dont want to pay for them and the money I save I will take care of my own.

  6. boyreporter says:

    Thanks, Hank, for channeling Bortz. Always good for a laugh. How ’bout you keep your money and I keep mine and we figure out how to build roads, form police and fire departments, organize a water system, and just pay for everthing we as a society depend on as we pick and choose? Why is it you rightwingers only get excited about spending tax money when it goes for schools or health care? No squawking over corporate welfare (rampant!) and military waste that benefits those corporations. Just education and health care. Some set of priorities.

  7. Goldwater Conservative says:

    Is it just me, or does Hank seriously sound bitter and irrational. Only concerned with himself and not with the interests of our country, our state, or even our communities. Let him keep his money, but he should not expect to thrive from the infrastructure built with tax dollars.

  8. boyreporter says:

    Yes, GC, and Hank is representative of a lot of folks who want it both ways. It comes down to selfishness and ugly social Darwinism…but the latter is ignored when these guys want something from the social contract that we all benefit from.

  9. Doing the same thing over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. The teacher’s union and the education establishment want to do just that with their constant cries of “give us more money.”

    I send my kids to a Christian school and it costs less per kid than the $4100 voucher mentioned above. There are plenty of good schools in that price range and if such a voucher existed I guarantee there would be plenty of other schools charging that amount.

    Education dollars should follow the student. Several other countries do this including many whose students beat the pants of our students on standardized tests.

  10. boyreporter says:

    Well, teachers’ unions and the education establishment certainly should not be asking for more money. Goodness knows, they have enough. Do you complain about the Pentagon’s exhorbitant budgets or corporate welfare? No, just the evil, greedy teachers and the education establishment.

    Your decision to send your kids to a Christian school is your right. Pay for it. There may very well be plenty of good schools in that price range, but maybe they’re not so good. And the floodgate of vouchers would probably increase the number of marginal Christian schools hoping to drink at the public spigot. They already don’t pay taxes, for heaven’s sake. I guarantee you are right about other schools popping up for the vouchers. Yes, follow the money. But that’s not what you meant, is it?

  11. Thadius says:

    I also send my child to a private school.

    You said “Your decision to send your kids to a Christian school is your right. Pay for it. ”

    That’s exactly what we do… We pay for our kids to go to school, then we turn around and pay for your kids to go to school… frickin’ leach…

  12. boyreporter says:

    Now, Thadius, that isn’t nice. Do you play well with others? Know how to tie your shoes? I pay for your kids to go to school, too. (See how it works?) But I don’t ask you to pay my private school tuition. I send one of my kids to private school and am not asking for a public hand-out for it. My choice, my cost. I have another kid in public school. A very good one.

  13. Hank Reardan says:

    Boy and goldie
    BTW I am not a right winger I am a LIBERTARIAN ( hear me roar). Bitter hell no I have a great life. My child goes to a private I own a great business and I live in a big house and I get to travel the world.The great thing is I live in a area you cant afford and my child will not have to hang out with yours. And i am more than happy to pay for tollroads and a private fire department and private security. Yes and I do only care about myself and I could care less how well YOU do.

  14. boyreporter says:

    A Libertarian (no roaring, pussy-pussy) is just a lazy Republican. Nice that you have a big house. Must make you feel manly. Ooh, and that private security! I hope you’re not too scared of the big bad world. By the way, it’s “couldn’t” care less. Otherwise, you’re admitting you care.

  15. Thadius says:

    Boy, I think you misunderstand the point… I am paying twice for my child’s education. I do not like that, especially since the second payment I make is to fund your kid’s education.

    BTW I have never sent my child to the government to ask for anything. I have never gone to the government myself to ask for anything. I am not rich like Hank, but I am willing to be a tight wad and work extra in order to avoid a situation where the government plays parent to my child.

  16. Thadius says:

    The fact that there are as many private schools as there are shows how dissatisfied parents are with government education.
    Lack of Competition = Mediocrity

  17. Hank Reardan says:

    To bad you are not man enough to take care of yourself. I tell you what why dont you come by my house tonight and check on that private security say around midnight.Lazy lets see i want to pay for my own stuff and you want guys like me to also pay for your stuff. It sounds like you are the lazy one.

  18. boyreporter says:

    Hank, come to your house tonight? Are you coming on to me?

    You say you want to pay for your stuff, but you turn around and ask me to pay your kid’s tuition. I don’t ask you to pay mine. I pay for my own, private funds and in school taxes. Did you go to public or private school? Either way, you should have paid more attention.

    And Thadius (may I call you Thad?), you pay twice for schooling and I pay only once? Who’s the dummy? Maybe you should go see Hank. Midnight tonight. He’s lonesome, I guess. Take him to Johnny’s Hideway or something.

    You seem very hard on the government (“plays parent to my child”). You should go to school, too, and learn about our democratic republic, how citizens band together for the common good while holding its leaders accountable through free elections. Such a government doesn’t pay for itself and can’t rely on donations. Taxes are not a new thing, and right-thinking, generous folks know they are necessary to fund essential services such as defense, roads, police and fire protection, safety and — here it comes — education (those who don’t want the latter can opt out by buying it elsewhere — free country and all that).

  19. Jason Pye says:

    Hank, come to your house tonight? Are you coming on to me?

    Don’t be an asshole. You’re the one who said, “Nice that you have a big house. Must make you feel manly. Ooh, and that private security!”

    Should we wonder why you’re stalking him?

  20. Hank Reardan says:

    Do you believe the school tax ( Property tax) that you pay is enough to pay for your child. Puplic education cost between 6000 and 11.000 dollars per per student. I will bet you do not and never will pay that much a year in property taxes that go towards schools. And I have not asked you to pay anything for me I can take care of myself.
    Jason BTW congrats on the newspaper thing that kicks Ass. Also I never said I was rich but just getting closer every day and I could speed it up some if I could get people like “Boy” of my back . And God forbid I do not want “BOY” near my backside, It looks like he might like that kind of thing.
    Also I went to puplic school in Clayton county North Clayton class of 86

  21. boyreporter says:

    You wrote: I went to puplic school in Clayton county North Clayton class of 86,

    I guess you were right about public schools being worthless. I ap0logize for doubting you.

  22. John Konop says:

    The last figures I saw are 10k per kid a year and 15k if you throw in building cost for education.

    Hank Reardan is right most tax payers do not come close to paying for the cost of their kids education. With that said even the father of free market system (Adam Smith) advocated public education for people who could not afford education.

    One only needs to look at places like the Middle East and you can see what happens when you have no educational infrastructure for the poor.

    The problem with the current system is instead of localizing and creating a system around the various needs of kids, George Bush, Ted Kennedy and company set up a one size fit all NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND programs that enrich publishing companies at the expense of kids and tax payers.

    The real solution is local control with more choices in public, charter, home and private schools. The constitution did not guarantee results it only guarantees the right to vote people out who fail.

    The current heavy handed Federal and State education system has undermined local control with unfunded mandates that has eliminated local responsibility and created a dysfunctional finger pointing system.

    Kathy Cox, George Bush and company dogmatic support of No Child Left Behind is enriching donors to their campaigns while leaving all of us behind!

  23. boyreporter says:

    Mr. K, you are exactly right. Your analysis is succinct, logical, informative and right on the money.

  24. Goldwater Conservative says:

    That is why I like John Konop. Rather than telling people what they want to hear…he tells them what they need to know. Much like John Adams did.

  25. John Konop says:


    BTW this is an e- blast I am working on I would appreciate your thoughts.

    Sonny & Casey Please Help!

    We need a new direction away from the heavy handed one size fit all No Child Left Behind educational system that has left children behind at the expense of tax payers.

    We need leadership from the Governor and Lieutenant governor to stop the recycling of failed gimmick programs like math 123 from Kathy Cox and instead focus on real solutions.

    More Choice Not Less

    Why not coordinate the current university, junior college system, certificate programs and technical colleges with the school system. The only national rank program in Georgia currently use this program for math why not expand the idea for all children instead of eliminating it as proposed by Kathy Cox.

    How to Expand

    By the 11th grade we could have students coordinate with current university, junior college system, certificate programs and technical colleges giving kids choice that could let them access the system early leaving with the best training for a job or higher education. This would not only save tax payers dollars it would match children with their best opportunity to become productive tax payers. Also a graduate gaining a certificate could still expand their education for example a nurse’s aide could become a nurse not leaving them short on future opportunities.

    University track children could be eligible to have course work by their junior year coordinated with the university system with access via the campus or internet. This would give Georgia kids an upper hand and challenge which has already produced national ranking with this approach in math at Cherokee schools.

    Sonny & Casey

    Please lead a charge to give counties the option to declare the county school district charter schools and coordinate the flow of funds between high schools and the higher education system so we can implement this solution. We need the voices of Sonny and Casey to lead a real reform in investing in our children’s future while saving tax payers money.

    Please Contact Sonny, Casey, your local principal and local school board, by demanding they give your children a real choice.

    Please contact Sonny Perdue at 404-656-1776 or click here

    Please contact Casey Cagle at (404) 656-5030 or click here

  26. Harry says:

    Unfortunately, the educational establishment, at least here in Gwinnett, is moving in exactly the opposite direction. They are eliminating academic “tracks” or “channels”, on the basis that they tend to separate kids into the pre-existing socio-ethnic groups. Diversity (as they define it) = Good. Education tailored to student individual ability = Bad.

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