They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. As we look at the cultural decline in this country, particularly the challenges faced by our young people and their families, it is absolute insanity to insist on an archaic fidelity to a system that has failed so many.

State Rep. Todd Jones

Another perspective is there is no other industry in business in our nation since Reconstruction that has not seen massive change other than public education. As we learned the hard and devastating lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic, we know we cannot marry our future to a broken monopoly.

I believe Georgia is primed for educational freedom in the form of big, bold school choice legislation. That’s why state Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming) and I carried legislation in the General Assembly last year known as The Georgia Promise Scholarship Act. If it is adopted this year, it would represent the largest expansion of school choice in Georgia history.

The Georgia Promise Scholarship Act is a gamechanger for K-12 education in Georgia. The scholarship would come in the amount of $6,500 – which can be used to pay for tuition and fees, tutoring and therapy, curriculum, textbooks, or even limited transportation. This can make a big difference for a family considering whether they can afford alternative education options for their child.

Contrary to opponent’s narrative, the $6,500 is less than what school districts spend per student, which means that, on net, parents who opt for a scholarship actually save money for the public schools. This is driven primarily due to the fact that the district will keep 100 percent of the local funding produced by property taxes.

I believe that the child should be at the center of every education decision the state makes. While I believe every child and family should be entitled to school choice, we must account for political realities to begin to break the education monopoly stifling such options for students.

That’s why, to gain support in the state Senate, we transitioned from a universal school choice option to an alternative that impacts those students of greatest need by opening up choice for students who attend a failing public school and are in the bottom 25 percent of academic performance.

The bill change worked, and this became the first school choice proposal in recent years to pass a chamber in which the entire Georgia Republican caucus voted yes – while every Democrat opposed it.

Unfortunately, we did not achieve the same result in the Georgia House. Sixteen Republicans joined with all-but-one Democrat (Rep. Meisha Mainor, who has since become a Republican) to halt the bill’s progress.

Our bill ensures accountability while preserving freedom, builds on what is already successful in more than 10 states, and provides an impetus for further school choice expansion.

It is inconceivable that anyone would choose to place the interests of a bloated school system above the interests of Georgia children and families.

That is exactly the result of a “No” vote on this measure.

I am grateful for the public-school systems in our state. My four children graduated from Forsyth County public schools. However, it is folly to believe that any organization can serve 100 percent of the needs of its entire population.

Funding for the 180 public school systems has never been more robust. QBE, our state funding formula has been fully funded, Georgia teachers received $10,000 in annual salary increases over the past five years and total reserves, across the 180 districts, now stand at over $6 billion dollars, larger than the “rainy-day fund” of the State of Georgia. Public school districts are poised to thrive and improve outcomes for the students who choose to remain in the public-school ecosystem.

Unfortunately, even representing an area with excellent schools, I am bombarded with constituent concerns about the direction of our education system – one that has been seized by national Leftist institutions, often indoctrinates instead of educates, and is more concerned about maintaining the status quo than innovating for a better tomorrow.

As we move forward in this battle, I urge Georgia citizens to remind their legislators that school choice is one of the great moral battles of our time. Encourage them to review the facts and support Senate Bill 233. Every family deserves the right to choose a school that meets their values and the needs of their child.

Jones, a Republican, represents District 25 encompassing parts of north Fulton and south Forsyth counties in the Georgia House of Representatives.


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