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Ainsworth: On school choice, ‘need to go all in’

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth said Gov. Kay Ivey didn’t go far enough in support for school choice during her recent State of the State speech.

“It’s important we continue to have meaningful discussions on school choice,” Ivey said. “That must begin with improving the school choice we already have: Our charter school options and the Alabama Accountability Act. I am proposing we provide startup funds for Charter Schools and make needed reforms to the governance of the Charter School Commission in order to create better accountability.”

Recently on WVNN’s “The Yaffee Program,” Ainsworth reacted to Ivey’s comments.

“I thought the governor gave a good message, talking about how well the state’s doing,” Ainsworth said. “Also talked about different challenges that we’ve got to continue to tackle. Obviously, school choice is part of that and I think some of the things she talked about, I think, are good.

“I’d like to see us go further on that and actually have educational savings accounts in our state, but I think certainly that’s a good first step in moving us in the right direction, but I think if we’re going to do school choice, we need to go all in.”

Ainsworth discussed the need for Alabama to model other conservative states when it comes to school choice options for parents and students.

“I want to commend the governor for wanting to do more with charter schools,” he said. “I think that’s for sure we need to do. That’s a public school option that I think works in other states. I think Florida, you could look at, has 600 or 700 charter schools and we have a dozen right around there. So we need more charter school options.”

Ainsworth said real school choice must also include options, such as private schools.

“I also think adding true choice … for any child and their parents to decide where they want to go to school, which public school they want to go to, if they want to go to private school, if they want to home school, and for them to have real choice, whether you call it vouchers, ESA’s, whatever you want to call it, that is what I support,” he said. “That is what I mean by full school choice, where a parent decides what’s best for the child, not a zip code, not what schools are zoned for, but they can actually decide what’s best for their individual child. That’s what I mean by that.

“A lot of the measures she talked about achieve that, but I think we need to go further.”

Ainsworth has not said whether he supports the PRICE Act, which would give families money in an education savings account that would be available for school choice options.

Yaffee is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts “The Yaffee Program” weekdays 9-11 a.m. on WVNN. You can follow him on Twitter @Yaffee

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