The House Education Committee spent several hours debating HB 215 Funding for Teacher Salaries and Optional Educational Opportunities on Thursday, January 19, which proposes both a private school voucher program and an educator salary increase if the voucher bill passes.
UEA believes educator salary increases should be based on the valuable work educators do every day and not come with strings attached just to pass a voucher bill.
Representative Angela Romero proposed a substitute bill to remove the educator salary increase and place it in a separate bill so the voucher proposal could be considered on its own. That motion was not adopted.
UEA Government Relations Director Sara Jones spoke against the bill. She questioned giving millions of dollars to private schools when the state has no regulatory authority over those schools to assess student achievement, teacher effectiveness, or what classes or curriculum are offered. In fact, the legislation specifically prohibits the state from regulating any instructional content or curriculum in private schools receiving public money even while the legislature has passed prohibitions on topics like sensitive materials and critical race theory in public schools.
Detailed concerns about the bill can be found in a UEA issue brief.
Many parents who currently homeschool their children opposed the bill as further government intrusion and regulation. While many educators opposed the bill as lacking accountability for public tax dollars paid to private schools and providers.
The bill passed with four no votes (Karen Peterson, Susan Pulsipher, Carol Moss, Angela Romero).