State Spotlight: Fighting for Students’ Futures in Georgia
What is it like when your child’s school is failing them? For Georgia mother Tanya Schlegel, it was heartbreaking. Her son “would routinely come home from school with tears in his eyes, saying the school wasn’t treating him fairly. I discovered they were not implementing his Individualized Education Plan as written but were putting pressure on my son to perform outside of the accommodations that were agreed upon. It caused a lot of meltdowns and angst. The situation eventually became so severe that he began self-harm. That progression broke my heart because he is a good kid. He’s not aggressive. He’s not violent. But the pressures the school system put on him caused him to hurt himself.”
Tanya felt stuck. Her son and daughter both have special needs and require extra attention and resources that their school can’t provide. Tanya and her husband also can’t afford to move to an area with better schools or pay for their children to go to better equipped (but expensive) private schools.
Tanya’s story isn’t unique in Georgia. Families all across the state—and especially in rural areas—are stuck in schools that don’t provide the education their students need, but there’s no alternative available.
This is why the Georgia Center for Opportunity launched their campaign to champion school choice programs for Georgia families.
During the 2022 legislative session, there were several bipartisan bills introduced to increase school choice opportunities in Georgia. Two of the most significant bills (HB 999 and SB 601) would have created Educational Savings Accounts called “promise scholarships.” These promise scholarships would have offered Georgia families up to $6,000 a year for approved education expenses. As GCO’s Vice President of Public Policy, Buzz Brockway explains, “Promise Scholarships would step far beyond a typical voucher by fully putting parents in the driver’s seat when it comes to their child’s education. The funds could [be] used for private-school tuition, but there would [be] added flexibility depending on each family’s unique needs, extending to paying for things like tutoring, specialized therapies, or homeschool co-ops.”
For families like Tanya’s, promise scholarships would be a lifeline. She explained “Promise Scholarships would provide the type of resources to ensure that our children are not left behind.”