House Education panel advances administration-backed school choice bill

Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears, speaks about House Bill 1508.

The House Education Committee voted Wednesday to advance an administration-backed school choice bill that would allocate a portion of per-pupil state funding to a savings account for parents to spend on private school tuition or other specified education expenses.

Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera spoke to the Republican-led panel before the vote in support of the legislation.


Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera spoke at the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond in May as Gov. Glenn Youngkin (left) looked on.

“We are at risk of losing a generation of children, especially those in our most traditionally underserved families and communities,” Guidera said. “This is why Governor Youngkin is working tirelessly to restore excellence to education for all Virginians.”

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The committee voted 11-10 along party lines to report and refer the bill, patroned by committee chair Del. Glenn Davis, R- Virginia Beach, to the appropriations committee.

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The legislation would make government-authorized accounts, known as education savings accounts, available to parents of any Virginia child enrolled in a public school for at least one semester. Families would be able to spend the funds on tuition, fees and required textbooks at private K-12 schools in Virginia or on homeschool expenses.

Guidera said on Wednesday that the administration’s goal is to make every school excellent, but parents cannot wait around for that vision to become a reality.

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“Every year that a child is condemned to go to a school that isn’t adding value, or for whatever reason doesn’t meet his or her needs, increases the likelihood of that child failing to learn, to drop out, to not be able to get a job, and to become another statistic on our unemployment list, our welfare rolls and in our jails,” Guidera said.

Education savings accounts are slightly different from traditional voucher programs – which some courts have ruled unconstitutional – in the sense that the funds are deposited into parents’ savings accounts rather than going directly to private schools.

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The legislation will likely face an uphill battle in the Democrat-controlled Senate if it clears the Republican-led House.

“I’m hopeful that the voucher bill will die in the House and not make it to the Senate because common sense Republicans recognize that this MAGA extremist bill would defund our public schools, worsen student outcomes and lead to widespread fraud,” said Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg, D-Henrico, in an interview.

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