Birmingham, Ala. – Today (April 11th, 2023), the Alabama Policy Institute (API) announced its support for the Parental Rights in Children’s Education (PRICE) Act introduced by Senator Larry Stutts and Rep. Ernie Yarbrough, to create a universal education savings account (ESA) allowing parents to use approximately $7,000 of their state tax dollars to educate their children the specific way they choose.
One of the three tenets of the API’s mission is to promote and defend families as the primary foundation to society. School Choice initiatives that acknowledge and strengthen the role of parents in their innate responsibility to educate and raise their children are a priority for API.
The ultimate goal of school choice is to give parents agency to educate each of their children as they see fit. Further, the re-introduction and expansion of free-market principles have and will continue to improve the station of education in our state. Where there is competition and innovation, there is success; where there is governmental interference and control, there is stagnation.
API believes that universal school choice is paramount to ensuring that every child in Alabama has a chance to flourish. API believes that applying free market principles to public, private, and home education opportunities will open new avenues for success in all areas of education.
The PRICE Act is a universal education savings account bill that will empower parents to educate their children according to their values to tailor their children’s education to their exact needs. No families or schools are required to participate but all Alabama schoolchildren would be eligible to apply annually after a 3 year phase-in period. The ESA can be used for public school, private school, online school, or homeschooling.
Students who use AL Accountability Act (AAA) scholarships are also allowed to have an ESA; the program is administered by the Department of Revenue and a volunteer 13 member parent advisory board. The annual ESA amount is based on the average amount of state tax dollars used per pupil. Qualifying expenses include tuition, textbooks and fees, individual classes, tutoring services, therapies such as occupational, behavioral, physical, speech and auditory therapies, extracurricular activities, computer hardware and other devices, software and applications, and school uniforms.
Public schools keep federal and local money left from a student who leaves their public school, and ESA funds that are not fully used in one school year can be rolled over into next year. No more money is added to an ESA once the student has graduated from high school, but any remaining funds can be used until age 21 for college/trade school/vocational training. Nothing in the act changes the current law regarding how non-public education entities (private, church, parochial, religious and home-based schools) operate or are regulated, including accreditation, assessments, and athletics.
API has been a school choice proponent for decades and played an integral part in the research, development, and drafting of this legislation and wholeheartedly supports the passage of the PRICE Act. If passed as introduced, Alabama will have the most comprehensive education freedom law in the nation.
Additional Resources: Price Act Funding and Cost Report