With School Choice Week recently ending, it’s fitting that Georgia have HB243, also known as Education Savings Accounts (ESA), drop last week. ESA is a solid school choice bill that empowers parents to make the right choice for their child. Understanding that public school is not always the right answer, ESA will assist parents seeking to place their child in the best learning environment.
House Bill 243, sponsored by Representative Mark Hamilton, allows state money allotted for children enrolled in Georgia’s K-12 program to be spent on alternative educational avenues. Representative Hamilton of Forsyth County discussed the bill with the AJC
“We have several very highly rated private schools in Forsyth County,” says state Rep. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming. “Yet, Forsyth County … is scholastically one of the top-achieving school systems. So why do parents choose to spend money to put them in (private schools)? Because they made the choice. They’re involved in their kids’ education, and they see things that those private schools offer that the public system doesn’t.
“I can say the same thing about home school. I know parents in Forsyth County that home school. Once again, we’ve got one of the finest school systems in the state, in the Southeast, and yet they’ve chosen to home school. So to me (the desire for choice) is not an indication” of whether the schools are good or bad.
Opponents worry the Educations Savings Accounts bill would lead to a large number of students leaving the public school system. ESA caps usage at 0.5 percent of the total student population for the first year and caps usage at 1 percent thereafter. According to the AJC, the cap is estimated at approximately 8,500 students and 17,000 students, respectively.
Funding for the ESA will come directly from the state. School districts will keep federal money and money raised from property taxes. House Bill 243 is solid.