State Rep. Ernie Yarbrough, one of the biggest proponents in the Alabama Legislature for expanding school choice, is praising the governor’s recent comments on the issue.
Last week, Gov. Kay Ivey told Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal” a school choice bill is already in the works.
“My goal is for Alabama to be the most school choice friendly state in the nation. I want us to have lots of school choices for our parents to choose from,” Ivey said. “And we’re going to be working, now already, on a bill, an ESA bill – an education savings account bill, – to present to the Legislature next session, and I’m very optimistic that will pass.”
Yarbrough (R-Trinity) reacted to Ivey’s statement during an appearance on WVNN’s “The Yaffee Program.”
“I was super excited to see those comments by the governor,” Yarbrough said. “I’ve got kids 14 down to 3, so that definitely was good news to my eyes and ears.”
Yarbrough sponsored a school choice expansion bill in the House that did not make it through the 2023 regular session.
“Anybody who looks at the political winds and certainly the educational winds in the context of Alabama with the AEA and the legitimate frustrations with the AEA…the reality is that for too long our parents have not been the customer,” he said. “The government has been the customer when it comes to the education of our kids.
“So it’s high time that we put the parents hands on the educational steering wheel so that we can get the results, the quality, and the morals and the values that we need.”
Yarbrough blames the power of special interest groups for the state not passing real school choice reform up to this point.
“The reality is I think a large part of it is people had a large financial incentive not to,” he said.
He also admitted to be concerned that any bill on the issue might be watered down to something he could not support.
“That is a legitimate concern,” he said. “Obviously I intend to be involved in that conversation for sure … because it’s passing down a way of life. It certainly isn’t learning a woke agenda items, woke facts. I intend to be involved because it’s really important.”
Yarbrough said he wants Educational Savings Accounts (ESA) to be a main part of the solution.
“You can craft an ESA solution that’s hands off, government off, freedom, people’s choices, people’s money back to them for them to control it, or you can craft a government solution, government control, government run, top down, lobby and interest things that ends up causing more damage than it does good,” he said. “So it’s imperative for us as legislators to be heavily involved in that process so we craft a solution … where the government is not here to save you, the government is not your friend.
“The government is here to get out of the way and give the money and the options and the choice, trulyboth for the curriculum and the testing and all that, back to the people and not have a top down system that’s going to create more of the same kind of problems.”