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Ivey: Make Alabama the most school choice-friendly state

Gov. Kay Ivey on Monday said she wants to see Alabama become “the most school choice-friendly state in the nation.”

School choice expansion and the creation of education savings accounts are expected to be significant parts of the Alabama Legislature’s lawmaking session that starts in two weeks.

At a rally outside the Capitol Monday morning, supporters of using tax dollars to fund students’ expenses in private or home schools heard from key advocates, including Ivey.

“For this upcoming legislative session, my top priority is ensuring an education savings account bill crosses the finish line,” Ivey told the cheering crowd. “This is key legislation that would empower Alabama students and parents and I look forward to signing this landmark bill into law, granting parents more rights in the education of their children.

“It will be sustainable, responsible and it is how we will shape the future of education in Alabama. For too long, parents have been unable to make the best education decisions for their children. It’s time to change that.”


Ivey in July said her office was working on school choice legislation. So far, exact details of the bill have not been made public.

A bill last year that would have let parents take about $6,900 per year to private schools and home schools didn’t garner a lot of GOP support, in part because it had no student testing requirements. Republican leaders say they want to make sure education dollars advance and improve education in the state, whether in public or private classrooms.

Other key expected debate points this year will be the total cost of the legislation and its impact on the Education Trust Fund.

Ivey said Monday the plan of expansion her office is working on “will empower parents with options that ensure educational freedom and fosters competition and excellence.”

“Strong students are the bedrock of a strong Alabama, driving our state toward prosperity and success.”

Rep. Ernie Yarbrough, R-Trinity, the House sponsor of last year’s bill, said Monday true school choice legislation must be universal and open to all children, flexible in the expenses it covers and protect the autonomy of private schools by keeping the government from controlling testing and curriculum decisions. 

“The primary responsibility of educating our children does not belong to the government, it belongs to the parents of Alabama,” Yarbrough said.

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