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Stutts: School choice can pass – ‘attitude has shifted’

State Sen. Larry Stutts (R-Tuscambia) is confident that his school choice bill can pass this next legislative session.

The state lawmaker is the cosponsor of the Parental Rights in Children’s Education (PRICE) Act, which would allow parents to get $6,000 in state tax dollars to put in an education savings account. Parents would then be able to use the money to put their children in a private school of their choice.

Thursday, Stutts discussed his bill on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show.”

“I just think it makes common sense,” Stutts said. “A lot of other states are doing it, and it gives parents freedom to choose what’s best for their children. I think that is the fundamental responsibility, to make choices for their children, and they make a lot of important choices, but at or near the top of that list has to be educational choices.”

The senator believes now is the time to get this kind of education reform through the Legislature.

“I think it’s very possible,” he argued. “I’m not introducing the bill to talk about it, I’m introducing the bill to pass it. And I think the attitude has shifted, not only in this state, but nationwide.

“And I think that when you look at where we are ranked in education, you don’t need to keep doing the same thing over and over. Competition makes everybody better, and if this gives parents freedom to make choice for their children, then it’s something that we absolutely need to do.”

Stutts also talked about why he supports education savings accounts as a key part of his his bill.

“A couple of things that are unique about this bill and the educational savings accounts is not only the freedom of it, but we encourage wise spending because if you don’t spend all the money in your education savings account, it can roll over from one year to the next and still be used for educational purposes,” he said. “And no more money is added after you are graduated from high school. But if you have money left over in your account, you can use it for trade school or college.”

Despite what he hears from school choice critics, the lawmaker does not think school choice will cause major problems for public schools.

“I don’t think there will be a mass exodus,” he said. “If you ask people, a vast majority of people are probably satisfied with where their children are at school. So I don’t expect a huge shift in the numbers, but that is why it’s being phased in over a three-year period, so that neither side of the equation will be overwhelmed with students coming in or students going out.”

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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