Private-school vouchers win final approval from General Assembly

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Intermediate

Words and phrases

approval
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əˈpruːvəl
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something is accepted and allowed to happen by a person in charge
controversial
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ˌkɑːntrəˈvɚʃəl
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something causing much discussion or arguments
voucher
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ˈvaʊtʃɚ
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a document that gives you the right to something without paying for it
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ATLANTA – The state Senate gave final [.fow1-1]approval[.fow1-1] Wednesday to a [.fow1-2]controversial[.fow1-2] law offering private-school [.fow1-3]vouchers[.fow1-3] to Georgia students attending low-performing public schools.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 33-21 along party lines to pass a form of the [.fow1-3]vouchers[.fow1-3] law the state House’s GOP majority passed last week.

approval
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əˈpruːvəl
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something is accepted and allowed to happen by a person in charge
controversial
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ˌkɑːntrəˈvɚʃəl
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something causing much discussion or arguments
voucher
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ˈvaʊtʃɚ
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a document that gives you the right to something without paying for it
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fund
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ˈfʌnd
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an amount of money that is available for a special purpose
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It includes a number of changes to a form of the bill the Senate passed last year. It would limit the [.fow1-3]voucher[.fow1-3] program’s financial cost by not allowing it to spend more than 1% of Georgia’s Quality Basic Education (QBE) student [.fow2-1]funds[.fow2-1] on [.fow1-3]vouchers[.fow1-3], a cap that is currently set at $140 million a year.

Trying to make sure the [.fow1-3]vouchers[.fow1-3] go to low-income and middle-income Georgians, only students in families earning no more than 400% of the poverty limit – currently $120,000 a year for a family of four - would be allowed to use the program. The cap would be increased only if the General Assembly puts more money into [.fow1-3]vouchers[.fow1-3].

Wednesday’s debate focused in part on which students would benefit from private-school [.fow1-3]vouchers[.fow1-3].

Since rich Georgians already can afford private schools without the state’s help, [.fow1-3]vouchers[.fow1-3] are designed to help working-class families, said Sen. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth.

“This bill is for the single moms out there working two jobs to keep the lights on who want school choice for their kids,” he said.

But Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, said the $6,500 [.fow1-3]vouchers[.fow1-3] the bill offers aren’t enough for poor families to send their children to a private school.

“The state spends more than that on public schools,” she said. “$6,500 is a shiny object to [take attention away from] from the failures of Georgia’s education system.”

Parents and other Senate Democrats also argued that spending $140 million a year on private-school [.fow1-3]vouchers[.fow1-3] will remove tax dollars from already underfunded public schools.

Republicans instead argued that the money that goes into the QBE [.fow2-1]funds[.fow2-1] for public schools will not be affected by the [.fow2-1]funds[.fow2-1] going into [.fow1-3]vouchers[.fow1-3].

The House also added several lines to Senate Bill 233 that don't have to do with [.fow1-3]vouchers[.fow1-3], such as continuing the several teacher pay raises the General Assembly has funded since 2019, Kemp’s first year in office.

It also lets public schools spend capital construction money on new pre-kindergarten buildings.

fund
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an amount of money that is available for a special purpose
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priority
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praɪˈorəti
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something that is more important than other things to do
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The bill now heads to Kemp’s desk for his signature. The governor made [.fow1-3]vouchers[.fow1-3] a [.fow3-1]priority[.fow3-1] this year, mentioning the bill during his State of the State address to a session of the House and Senate in January.

priority
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praɪˈorəti
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something that is more important than other things to do
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