MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — A bill making its way through the statehouse would give parents about $7,000 per child to spend on their education.
It’s called the Parental Rights in Children’s Education, or PRICE, Act. The bill creates education savings accounts for parents to spend how they choose on their child’s schooling.
Jeana Boggs attended the Senate Education Policy Committee hearing for the bill Wednesday. She says had the legislation been in place when she put her two kids through private school, it would have had a huge impact on her family.
“My husband and I worked two jobs in the 90s to send them to private Christian school. It was very hard, living on bologna, and during that time to be able to get them out of the public school system,” Boggs said.
Boggs says she supports the bill for her grandchildren’s future.
Bill sponsor Larry Stutts says he’s tired of seeing Alabama ranked at the bottom in education.
“This has the potential to change that for the most people in the shortest period of time,” Stutts (R- Tuscumbia) said.
The $6,900 per child could go to private, church, parochial or homeschool options, according to the bill. It could also go toward a long list of qualifying expenses that some argue the state shouldn’t be paying for with public funds.
“Line 531 allows for iPads to be bought,” Allison King with the Alabama Education Association said. “Or even use the money to send our kid to space camp on line 520, or of all things, we can spend it on travel ball.”
King also raised concerns about the system of prepayment to parents that the bill sets up.
“It’s an ideal setup for fraud,” King said.
Sen. Stutts says the possibility of the money not going where it’s intended hasn’t stopped government programs before.
“Look, there’s fraud everywhere. We have fraud throughout government,” Stutts said.
Implementation of the program is estimated to cost some $600 million. The bill would be phased in over a three-year period.
Stutts says it’s a worthwhile investment, and now is the time.
“We’re absolutely in a place where we can afford to do it. We have a surplus in the education budget,” Stutts said. “And the bottom line is the education budget is about educating the children of Alabama and one size does not fit all, and parental choice is the quickest way to have accountability in this system.”
The committee did not vote on the bill Wednesday and instead referred it to the education budget committee.