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Alabama leads the nation in educational freedom in 2024 after Governor Ivey signs school choice bill into law

Governor Kay Ivey's signing of the school choice bill this morning puts Alabama at the forefront of states expanding educational freedom in 2024. With the creation of the Education Savings Account (ESA), Alabama joins 14 other states in offering a comprehensive choice program. All of the United States is considering similar expansions in 2024.

“Today is a historic day as we officially sign the CHOOSE Act, the Education Savings Account bill,” Governor Ivey said at a signing ceremony with students, legislators, and advocates. “Our plan will work not just for Alabama families, but for our state, and will be effective and sustainable for generations to come.

“At the end of the day, we all want every student in Alabama to have access to a quality education, regardless of their zip code or school,” Ivey said.

selection method The bill was introduced in Congress by state Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and state Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville), who chair the Education Trust Fund Committee in their respective chambers. ing.

The legislation creates a $7,000 ESA that eligible students can use for educational expenses starting in the 2025-26 school year. It is expected to be available to all students by the 2027-28 academic year. Eligible students must be between the ages of 5 and 19, or 21 for students with disabilities, and have not graduated from high school.

RELATED: Ivey unveils universal school choice bill with support from legislative leaders and budget chairs

The first 500 ESAs will follow priority groups that include siblings of eligible students, students from military families assigned to priority schools, and students from families with incomes up to 300% of the federal poverty level. Reserved for students with special needs.

Lawmakers allocate at least $100 million annually in ESA funding, capped at $500 million annually, to be administered by the Alabama Department of Revenue.

“Ultimately, we need to fund student education and focus on the student, not the institution,” State Sen. Arthur Orr told lawmakers.

Orr also praised Gov. Kay Ivey's leadership on this issue.

“It was an honor to work with Governor Ivey and his team to quickly pass school choice legislation, which I declared a top priority this Congress.” “I believe that Governor Ivey only wants what is best for all Alabama schoolchildren and their families, now and in the future.”

The law also allows homeschooling parents to receive a tax credit of up to $2,000 per child for educational materials from approved vendors. Her limit per family for homeschooling is $4,000.

Senate Pro Tempore Greg Reed (R-Jasper) said today, “Alabama puts schoolchildren and their families first.

“Children are our future, and there is no greater responsibility for legislators than to ensure that children, regardless of their zip code, have all the resources they need to succeed academically,” Reed said. Stated. “We want our children to realize their dreams and reach their full potential, and the CHOOSE Act provides this opportunity in a fiscally responsible way.”

“I am proud of our investments that will positively impact young students across Alabama,” Reed said.

RELATED: Educational Freedom Day brings together lawmakers, students and advocates for school choice at Alabama Statehouse

Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wall called the bill a “historic achievement.”

“The Alabama Republican Party has worked tirelessly for school choice for many years and is excited about the enactment of HB129. There is still much work to be done in the fight for school freedom, but this bill This is a huge step forward in giving parents back control over their children's education,” Wahl said.

“The quality of a child's education should never be determined by their background or where they live. We strongly believe that every family should have the opportunity to secure a good education. School choice is a critical component in achieving that goal.”

He also gave special praise to Senator Orr and Representative Garrett, who sponsored the bill.

“On behalf of the Republican Party of Alabama, I would like to thank our members, especially the bill sponsors, Representative Danny Garrett and Senator Arthur Orr, and Governor Ivey for their collaborative efforts to make this important step forward possible. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude.”

RELATED: School Choice Week: Alabama leaders promise to 'keep fighting'

According to the nonprofit organization EdChoice, 25 states are currently considering education reform bills, and nearly 80% of them are related to education savings.

Robert Enlow, the group's president and CEO, said he expects the number of states to increase.

“While legislative bodies typically avoid enacting transformative policy reforms in election years, policymakers are ensuring that educational choices are supported by robust research and legal soundness, and that parents and adults 2024 is shaping up to be a different situation, as we see it being overwhelmingly popular among consumers,” Enlow said.

“Alabama is the first state to take this stance this year, but we don't expect it to be the last.”

Austin Shipley is a staff writer at Yellowhammer News.

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