Representative Jim Walsh (R LD-19) pre-filed House Bill 1093 last week, making another attempt for school choice in Washington state. This bill would provide a scholarship that would be by application and available to 100,000 students on a first come first served basis. Last year Representative Walsh filed a nearly identical bill for a scholarship option for students in Washington state. That bill never even got a committee hearing.
It’s no secret that Democrats (and many Republicans) are funded and owned by the teachers’ unions and other special interest groups, and they have no intention of advancing any legislation that would allow parents to have more options than government schools for their children.
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Over the last 3 years parents have been waking up across the country. Parents are activated and involved and speaking up. Many of these parents have unenrolled their children from government schools and opted to homeschool or send them to private schools. This bill would give much-needed financial relief to those families who have undertaken these other education options. Many of these families have had to cut back on work outside the home to provide education for their children or they have taken on the additional financial burden of a private school while still funding government schools through their tax dollars. Notably, this bill would provide more options to students in minority and low income communities as they are most affected by the lack of funding for education outside of the government schools.
“The goal of the program is to empower families to choose an educational environment and program that will prepare their students for postsecondary education, gainful employment or entrepreneurship, and a successful future, regardless of the parents’ income level or zip code, by providing funding that includes only those minimum state controls necessary to ensure the proper administration of the program.”
These scholarship funds may be used for: Curricula and other materials necessary to provide home-based instruction; Tuition, fees, or both at a private school; Textbooks required by a private school; Tutoring and other services with a direct nexus to academics; Computer hardware or other technological devices; Tuition, fees, or both for a private online learning program; Fees for nationally standardized norm-referenced achievement tests, advanced placement examinations, and any examinations related to college or university admission; Uniforms required to attend a private school; and costs for annual standardized testing or the academic progress assessment.
The bill makes sure to include language protecting home school families and private schools from additional government oversight or regulation as a result of this scholarship program, which has been the primary concern of many homeschooling families.
This bill also includes language making parents the primary decision makers for their children – not just in education, but in their general well-being. This language would set a new precedent recognizing the role of parents in Washington state.
Rep Walsh stated on Facebook: “There may be multiple school choice proposals filed in Olympia at the Capital this session. This will be a good thing for Washington families with school age kids.”
We know it will be a hard fight to get this bill moved to a hearing. But we also know that parents of all political affiliations are tired of being forced into government schools when it is not the best fit for their students. We believe that our state should be funding students, not systems. This bill is a giant step in the right directions.
We know that the voice of parents is more powerful than the unions and special interest groups. We will be asking parents across the state to testify in support of this bill, to email their representative and the members of the education committee. We cannot sit by in silence if we expect change. Our children are worth the fight!
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