Gov. Kay Ivey joined students at the State Capitol Monday morning to reiterate her focus on school choice.
Ivey had previously announced her intent to support legislation that would create Education Savings Accounts and said Monday that it is her top priority.
“Providing all children no matter their zip code with a solid foundation in education is critical to the future success of our state,” Ivey said.
Ivey still hasn’t shared details of her plan, opting to wait for her State of the State address just two weeks from now.
While Ivey hasn’t detailed her plan yet, the Alabama Legislature has considered ESA bills in the past.
Legislation introduced in the previous session by Sen. Larry Stutts, R-Sheffield, failed to pick up traction, which he blamed partly on political maneuvers. The bill originated in the Senate Education Policy committee, but after a lengthy public hearing on the bill, Stutts was told the legislation would have to move to the Education Budget committee, before coming back again to Policy—a circuitous route before it would even have a chance of reaching the full Senate.
Those public hearings included a lot of support primarily from private school administrators and the Eagle Forum, while critics including public school administrators and the Alabama Education Association said the bill lacks accountability and would rob public schools of funding.
Proponents of such vouchers have said the system would actually be auditable in real time, and also argue that it would not hurt the funding of public schools, because federal and local funds are not tied to enrollment. They argue that the small percentage of students that leave the school system would actually bring in more money per pupil based on this allocation.
That does not appear to account for the large amount of public funds not currently going toward students at private schools that would be siphoned from the Education Trust Fund.