More States Join the School Choice Movement
Alabama and Montana passed historic school choice legislation this legislative session, giving parents more options in choosing the best atmosphere for the education of their children. Finally, Alabama and Montana join more than 40 states in the movement for school choice and educational freedom, demonstrating that Americans want school choice.
In Alabama, the state legislature passed SB45, allowing for the first public charter schools. Within the bill, an unlimited number of conversion charter schools are permitted, while start-up charter schools are limited to ten schools per year until the law sunsets in 2020. Additionally, charter schools may be authorized by either a local school district or the newly-created Alabama Public Charter School Commission. While possessing flexibility unavailable to traditional public schools, charters are held to certain standards through an accountability process and must be renewed after five years. Alabama is now the 43rd state to pass charter school legislation.
Montana, while currently without a system of charter schools, has finally passed its first school choice opportunity: a tax-credit scholarship bill. Senate Bill 410 allows private individuals and industry stakeholders to contribute to scholarships for public and private institutions. The bill stipulates that the total tax credits are capped at $3 million, with no more than $150 going to any individual child. Additionally, these scholarships are available to any child in The Treasure State through an eligible Student Scholarship Organization (SSO) or the state’s Innovative Education Program. State Senator Llew Jones, the bill’s author, stated, “This way when they go in to pay their taxes they can choose to put education first, they can choose to direct dollars that way.” If signed by the governor, Montana becomes the 28th state to create a universal tax-credit scholarship.
Alabama and Montana have now joined the school choice movement in order to provide their students the additional resources to be successful now and in the future. It is the hope that Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Vermont will follow suit and recognize the opportunities school choice provides.