FILE - GA Capitol

The Georgia state Capitol in Atlanta

(The Center Square) – The Georgia Senate Education and Youth Committee has advanced legislation that would allow Georgians to put taxpayer money toward the cost of private school tuition.

Senate Bill 601, the Georgia Educational Freedom Act, would create state-funded Promise Scholarships of up to $6,000 a year. Families of the roughly 1.7 million K-12 students in Georgia could use the money for private school tuition and other education expenses, such as tutoring and homeschool curriculum.

“Promise Scholarships step far beyond a typical voucher by fully putting parents in the driver’s seat when it comes to their child’s education,” Buzz Brockway, vice president of public policy for The Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO), said in a statement after the Senate committee approved the bill Tuesday.

“The funds could be used for private-school tuition, but there is added flexibility depending on each family’s unique needs, extending to paying for things like tutoring, specialized therapies, or homeschool co-ops,” Brockway said. “Passing Promise Scholarships would put Georgia at the forefront nationally of giving all children the opportunity for a great education.”

The head of the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) said voucher programs do not automatically free up resources for students who remain in public schools.

“Funding our public schools is not where we can say, ‘Just because one student is gone it makes more funds for the other students,’ ” Lisa Morgan, president of GAE, told WXIA-TV. Public voucher “programs end up being programs for parents who already intend to send their children to private school and have the means to do so.”