Alabama Senate Passes Important Expansion to State Educational Choice Program

Expanded program will help more children obtain quality educational options

MONTGOMERY (March 31, 2015) – Today, Alabama Federation for Children celebrated the passage of Senate Bill 71 from the State Senate, which will expand and improve the popular Tax Credit Scholarship Program, allowing more children to be served by this important educational choice program.

“Every child deserves access to a quality education and by expanding and improving Alabama’s tax credit scholarship program, more children will receive the education they deserve, while ensuring the state’s popular educational choice program remains transparent and accountable,” said Chad Mathis, chairman of Alabama Federation for Children. “We are extremely pleased that the Alabama Senate passed this bill and addressed the needs of children, especial those who come from low-income families and are zoned to underperforming schools.”

The Alabama Tax Credit Scholarship Program was established as part of the Alabama Accountability Act and offers children from low-income families who are zoned to underperforming schools access to a scholarship to pay for alternative schooling. Senate Bill 71 will allow more children the ability to utilize this crucial program by expanding the amount of money available for scholarships, from $25 to $30 million, while also increasing accountability of scholarship granting organizations (SGOs) and participating private schools. Under SB 71, SGOs must report the amount of scholarships awarded on a quarterly basis, allowing the public to see how funds are being used. The bill would also require that new participating private schools be accredited by a recognized accreditation agency.

“We are grateful to Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh for his leadership on behalf of the more than 3,000 children and their families who have been able to choose a school that better fits their needs,” added Mathis. “A child’s ability to gain a great education should never be limited by their families income or dependent on their ZIP code.”

Senate Bill 71 will proceed to a House committee, where it will be debated before going to the House floor.

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The Alabama Federation for Children is the state-based affiliate of the American Federation for Children.

The American Federation for Children is the nation’s leading school choice advocacy organization and works in states across the country to help secure additional, high-quality educational options for families.