by Mark Binker
May 21, 2013
In a packed room, the House Education Committee heard Tuesday from supporters and opponents of a plan to give taxpayer-funded scholarships for low income students that attend private schools.
The crowd precluded any committee debate or a vote on the bill, as legislators used the limited time to hear from the public – those in favor and against the Opportunity Scholarship Act
The committee did roll out a new version of the bill and an accompanying summary that explains the bill.
“The bill before you, in reality, will not help the students it is intended to help,” Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson told the committee. She focused her comments on the fact that private schools do not have to report student test results and performance in the same way public schools do.
“If a grading scale of A-through-F is good for public schools, then it should be good for private schools,” she said. How else, she asked, would parents know if the private school they are choosing actually offers a better education than their current public school.
Proponents of the bill said that voucher programs in other states have helped improve student test scores.
“I’m struck by the amount of opposition to something some people have never seen working in progress,” said Jeanne Allen is the Founder and President of The Center for Education Reform.
The committee is expected to debate and vote on the bill next week.