Legislators Graded on Support for School Choice Legislation
The Georgia Center for Opportunity
Atlanta, GA – (June 1, 2017) – Students are not the only ones who received an end-of-the-year report card last week. The Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) released a legislative report card on their website, which assigns grades A-F to individual lawmakers based on their support of school choice policies in the most recent legislative session.
GCO launched a campaign at the end of 2016 to ensure that parents have all the facts about education savings accounts (ESAs) and can become advocates in their communities, and the report card is one more piece of the campaign. Working with the Georgia Parents Alliance, they are bringing together a diverse coalition of inner-city parents, military parents, homeschoolers and parents of children with disabilities – all of whom would be able to improve their children’s educational choices if they had access to an ESA.
The report card is based on a point system associated with each school choice bill Senators and Representatives had the opportunity to support during the 2017 session. The State House had the opportunity to vote five times in support of choice options, while the Senate voted six times.
The Georgia House of Representatives proved to be significantly more friendly to the idea of giving parents more choice in education. The House, led by Speaker David Ralston received an A grade compared to the Senate, led by Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, which received an overall grade of D.
Thirty-three lawmakers made the “honor roll” for sponsoring or co-sponsoring legislation that would expand educational choice for Georgia families.
Grades did not fall among party lines, as some Democrats received A+ grades and some Republicans received an F.
This was the first year in almost a decade that stand-alone private school choice legislation made it to the House and Senate floors for a full vote.
“Many legislators say they support school choice, especially during campaign season. But the true test of whether a lawmaker wants to truly empower parents with the options and resources to secure the best education for their child is not what they say, but how they vote when given the opportunity,” said Eric Cochling, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Georgia Center for Opportunity.
“While 2017 was a good year for modest expansion of high-quality public charter schools, it was disheartening to see so many lawmakers, especially in the State Senate, refuse to give students who may be floundering in their traditional schools the immediate access to the education they need. The education of our children is the most important issue for our future, and until every student is excelling, every option should be on the table. School choice should be a priority, not a platitude, for those leading our state.”
Georgia Center for Opportunity is an independent, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to increasing opportunity and improving the quality of life for all Georgians. We research solutions to society’s most pressing challenges, promote those solutions to policymakers and the public and help innovative social enterprises deliver results on the ground.
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