Opinion: Governor’s signature on school choice bill is good first step

Opinion: Governor’s signature on school choice bill is good first step

Georgia news, in the news, current events, Georgia happenings, GA happenings

Opinion: Governor’s signature on school choice bill is good first step

Education is one of the most powerful ways that kids connect with positive role models, ideas and skills that enable them to imagine and pursue meaningful, prosperous futures.

At the same time, these futures are evolving — and fast. Modern technology, new industries and new skills required for work mean that Georgia can no longer skate by having only 34% of fourth graders showing proficiency in math and 32% in reading on the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Opinion: Governor’s signature on school choice bill is good first step

Georgia governor signs bill to launch ‘Promise Scholarships’

Georgia news, in the news, current events, Georgia happenings, GA happenings

Georgia governor signs bill to launch ‘Promise Scholarships’

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a measure to allow families to spend taxpayer money on private school tuition, which school choice proponents lauded, though critics worry it will cut resources from strapped school systems.

Senate Bill 233, the “Georgia Promise Scholarship Act,” which lawmakers passed after killing the proposal last year. Under the measure, students who attend a public school that ranks in the bottom 25% in terms of academic performance are eligible for annual $6,500 scholarships.

“It recognizes that Georgia is a diverse state with a diverse set of needs for education,” Buzz Brockway, the Georgia Center for Opportunity’s vice president of public policy, said in a statement. “After years of work, this bill is a positive step toward shaping an education system that honors every child’s unique situation and prevents a lack of quality education from locking children and communities into poverty.”

GCO applauds signing of Promise Scholarships bill, says more work needs to be done

GCO applauds signing of Promise Scholarships bill, says more work needs to be done

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GCO applauds signing of Promise Scholarships bill, says more work needs to be done

PEACHTREE CORNERS, GA—Today, the Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) applauded Gov. Brian Kemp and the Georgia legislature for ushering into law the Promise Scholarships bill that will bring much-needed relief to the over half-a-million low- and middle-income kids stuck in low-performing schools.

“We are thankful to Gov. Kemp and the many House and Senate lawmakers who recognized the urgency of the moment and advanced a bill to provide much-needed opportunity to bolster academic options,” said Buzz Brockway, GCO’s vice president of public policy. “Passing Promise Scholarships is a momentous milestone for tens of thousands of Georgia kids struggling in a system that doesn’t work for them. It recognizes that Georgia is a diverse state with a diverse set of needs for education. After years of work, this bill is a positive step toward shaping an education system that honors every child’s unique situation and prevents a lack of quality education from locking children and communities into poverty.”

Senate Bill 233 will make students from the lowest performing 25% of public schools eligible to receive $6,500 a year set aside in an account. Parents can then use the funds to cover approved educational expenses, including private school tuition, books, uniforms, and even transportation.

SB 233 also gives first priority to students from families below 400% of the federal poverty level — around $120,000 a year for a family of four. Students above that threshold will be allowed to participate if funds are left over after the lower-income students are served.

Promise Scholarships will serve an estimated 21,500 kids when the program goes live for the 2025-2026 school year.

Georgia now joins a growing list of states offering educational options for all students. In the Southeast, Alabama, Florida, and North Carolina have recently enacted universal Education Savings Account programs, while South Carolina is in the process of creating a universal program in the coming years.

“The urgency to create an education lifeline for kids can’t be overstated. Education is a basic need. Lack of access to quality options is a major cause of many of the ills in our society, including putting a cap on upward mobility. A lack of quality education locks children into poverty and prevents communities from thriving,” said Brockway.

Although GCO praised passage of Promise Scholarships, Randy Hicks, GCO’s president and CEO, cautioned that the bill is just a first step.

“Unfortunately, the final compromise bill was watered down in a number of ways that will limit its reach,” said Hicks. “Funding for Promise Scholarships is capped to 1% of public school funding and there is a 10-year sunset on the entire program. It’s a positive step that over 20,000 students will be eligible for educational freedom, that number is a drop in the bucket compared to the need. We will continue building on this foundation for the future so that all of Georgia’s schoolchildren have options.”

 

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Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) is independent, non-partisan, and solutions-focused. Our team is dedicated to creating opportunities for a quality education, fulfilling work, and a healthy family life for all Georgians. To achieve our mission, we research ways to help remove barriers to opportunity in each of these pathways, promote our solutions to policymakers and the public, and help effective and innovative social enterprises deliver results in their communities.

Learn More about SB233

GCO applauds signing of Promise Scholarships bill, says more work needs to be done

U.S. House passes a bill that’s a step toward ‘One Door’ social safety-net reforms

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U.S. House passes a bill that’s a step toward ‘One Door’ social safety-net reforms

PEACHTREE CORNERS, GA—Yesterday, a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House passed ​H.R. 6655, a Stronger Workforce for America Act, which establishes a crucial demonstration waiver for a handful of states to implement safety-net reforms similar to Utah’s “One Door” policy. As a member of the coalition group the Alliance for Opportunity, the Georgia Center for Opportunity has played an important role in educating lawmakers on the perils of the current social safety net that creates barriers to work and upward mobility.

H.R. 6655 revises the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act for the first time since 2014. The bill would give four states leeway to explore a “One Door” safety-net reform strategy similar to Utah’s model enacted in the 1990s. Utah consolidated federal workforce development and social safety-net programs into a single state entity and fully integrated the safety-net system into workforce development programs.

“This is an important first step toward improving the social safety-net in all 50 states and breaking down barriers to work and a flourishing life,” said Randy Hicks, president and CEO of the Georgia Center for Opportunity. “The next step is to broaden the scope to allow every state to explore ways to integrate workforce and safety-net programs. These reforms are badly needed. There are 8.9 million open jobs across the U.S., and the workforce participation rate hasn’t fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. We must create a safety-net system that doesn’t trap people in generational poverty but provides a pathway to a better life.”

Under H.R. 6655, the five-year innovation waiver is only available to states with populations of less than six million and a labor force participation rate below 60%. According to the Alliance for Opportunity, currently only nine states fit the bill: Louisiana, West Virginia, Missouri, South Carolina, Arkansas, Alabama, Maine, Kentucky, and New Mexico.

Under the current version of WIOA, states are barred from implementing such reforms. Utah was grandfathered in and is the only exception.

The bill contains another potential pathway toward a One Door model as well. Three years after enactment of the law, any state’s governor can consolidate workforce programs into one entity, but doing so would require the approval of half of the chairpersons of local workforce boards.

“These reforms would advance the end goal for every work-capable individual in a safety-net program to participate in effective employment and training programs,” added Hicks. “Numerous studies show that the benefits of work extend well beyond finances, encompassing overall wellbeing and a host of other benefits. One Door reforms will help ensure we have a system that encourages people to find work and improve their lives.”

 

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Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) is independent, non-partisan, and solutions-focused. Our team is dedicated to creating opportunities for a quality education, fulfilling work, and a healthy family life for all Georgians. To achieve our mission, we research ways to help remove barriers to opportunity in each of these pathways, promote our solutions to policymakers and the public, and help effective and innovative social enterprises deliver results in their communities.



Opinion: Governor’s signature on school choice bill is good first step

Lou Penrose Show with Special Guest Josh Crawford

Georgia news, in the news, current events, Georgia happenings, GA happenings

Lou Penrose Show with Special Guest Josh Crawford

Josh Crawford, an expert in criminal justice reform from the Georgia Center for Opportunity, appeared as a guest on the Lou Penrose Show. He discussed the need for comprehensive changes to the justice system to reduce recidivism rates and provide better support for formerly incarcerated individuals. Crawford shared insights from his work advocating for policies like improving education and job training opportunities for those with criminal records.

Listen to the full show. 

Opinion: Governor’s signature on school choice bill is good first step

Policy and election-year politics mixed into new Georgia laws

Georgia news, in the news, current events, Georgia happenings, GA happenings

Policy and election-year politics mixed into new Georgia laws

Flush with cash and facing an election year, Georgia lawmakers prioritized bills that cut taxes, stoke political emotions and touch voters’ lives in some way.

Legislators left the Capitol early Friday morning after making their mark on the state over the past three months, with the Republican majority pushing both practical spending bills and sparking debates over partisan issues including immigration and transgender people.

“I think they were looking for things to show their constituents that they’re doing something,” said Buzz Brockway, a former Republican state representative who now works at the Georgia Center for Opportunity, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing poverty. “I would call it a ‘medium session.’ Some things got done that are important and move the ball forward, but nobody got everything they wanted.”

Read the full article in The Herald

Read the full article in Atlanta Journal-Constitution