(The Center Square) – Georgia lawmakers are likely to pass school choice legislation when they reconvene, one expert predicts.
School choice has taken on new resonance after Rep. Mesha Mainor of Atlanta, an ardent school choice supporter, announced she was switching to the Republican Party.
Nathan Cunneen, a representative for the American Federation for Children, shared his thoughts with The Center Square.
What makes now such a unique moment for school choice in Georgia and nationwide?
COVID certainly pushed education freedom over the edge as a political issue, but this is the natural result when a one-size-fits-all system fails to hold itself accountable to parents’ desires. Georgia is ranked around the middle of the pack nationally, according to the National Assessment of Education Progress, even though the Peach State is spending more on K-12 education than ever before. Some families are having a good experience in their public schools, but others are tired of waiting for the ship to turn around. They want the ability to choose their child’s school and set them up for a successful future.
Considering the progress of school choice around the country, this is a unique moment for Georgians to consider real education reform that directly empowers families.
What does the party switch by state Rep. Mesha Mainor, R-Atlanta, mean for the school choice movement in Georgia?
Rep. Mainor’s party switch should be a wake-up call to every legislator in Georgia. Rep. Mainor was willing to switch parties in order to put her constituents first. She made it clear that this was a moral decision, not a political one.
The 16 Republicans, and all the Democrats who voted against school choice last session should observe this courage. The reason school choice expansion failed last year was because some Republicans put the status-quo above more opportunities for students. Rep. Mainor was willing to lose her party in order to help kids, 16 Republicans weren’t willing to vote yes on a party platform issue. They should all follow Rep. Mainor’s example and put children above politics.
Are lawmakers likely to pass school choice reform when they reconvene in January? Why or why not, and how might the measure they pass look?
School choice will be back on the debating table when the legislature reconvenes next year, and if Republicans stick together to put children above the status quo, that legislation will be law.
Next year, representatives will be thinking about reelection, and they should remember that 71% of Americans support school choice and that school choice candidates dominated in the 2022 midterm elections.
With this in mind, I’m extremely confident that this is the year a universal school choice program will pass in Georgia.