We have read time and time again that this past election was about parental rights. Governor Youngkin was elected because parents were fed up with the way they were being treated by school boards across the state and what their children were being taught in the public schools. Their anger and concerns drove them to the polls. Virginia saw a 12% turnaround in voting preference from 2020 to 2021. President Trump lost VA by 10% in 2020 and Governor Youngkin won by 2% in 2021. That is a huge shift in the electorate in one year. Parents were sending a powerful message – they want meaningful changes in their options for educating their children!
Governor Youngkin is responding to these parents with a plan to increase the number of charter schools in Virginia. He has proposed legislation that would provide $150 million to public and private universities to create 20 K-12 lab schools. These are innovative schools that will allow universities to try new ways to educate children. If these schools are given this money, they will be able to educate approximately 5,000 to 10,000 children across the state.
While this is a good start, less than 1% of the children in VA will be able to take advantage of the new lab schools. There are thousands and thousands of families in Virginia who feel the public schools are not meeting their needs. These parents need help. In Virginia, we have very few options for educating our children outside of the public school unless you are wealthy and/or live in an area where there are a variety of parochial schools. Overall, Virginia has severely limited education choice no matter where you live or how high your income is. And now, post-pandemic, private schools are full and there are fewer and fewer options for families who want to send their children to a non-public educational program.
It is time for the General Assembly to pass legislation that responds to ALL parents. Not just a select few. Del. Dave LaRock has introduced HB1025, commonly referred to as Education Savings Accounts. This bill would allow approximately $3,500 to $4,500 to follow a child into a restricted bank account owned by the parent. This money then would be used to send their child to a private school, home school or a combination of both. In other words, a family’s tax dollars would be directly available to use towards tuition costs for a non-public school program!
There are now six states that offer ESAs and thousands of families are using the money they receive to meet their children’s educational needs. Opponents to ESAs claim that this takes money from the public schools and will cause declining academic performance in public-schools. After 10 years of ESAs having been used in the United States, none of these claims have come true. In fact, public schools in zones where ESAs are offered have seen an increase in funding and they have seen their scores improve. None of the dire predictions made about ESAs have come true!
Because of their success, Education Savings Accounts have become hugely popular. Nearly 80% of Americans support ESAs and 76% support universal ESAs. It is time for Republicans in the General Assembly to stand up for the parents who voted them into office!!
We Need Your Help
HB1025 will be heard in the K-12 Education Subcommittee meeting on Tuesday February 8th at 7:30am. We are asking you to make your voice heard and demand that the General Assembly respond to the thousands of parents who voted in November for change in our education system in Virginia.
We are asking you to do two things:
- 1. Comment on HB1025 by clicking on this link, it will take you to a list of education bills in committee. Select HB1025, then select “NEXT” at the bottom of the page. You will be sent to a form that allows you to submit comments on HB1025.
- 2. Contact all the legislators on the K-12 Education subcommittee and tell them to VOTE YES for Universal Education Savings Accounts (HB1025). This link will take you to the list of legislators on the subcommittee and their contact information. Please be sure to call ALL of the legislators on the subcommittee.
It is imperative that you make your voice heard if we are to improve education in Virginia. There is no better time than NOW to push Republicans and Democrats to do the right thing and support HB1025.