Spend state money on students, regardless of types of school they attend



Recently, I shared my family’s experience with school vouchers (SB10) for children with individual educational plans (IEP). There is a bill in the Georgia Senate (SB233) that would provide each child in Georgia the opportunity to have a $6,500 voucher toward a school of their choice.

In 2023, the average Georgia pupil received an average of $6,466 from the State of Georgia for their public school education.

First, it is important to note that the Georgia guarantees an adequate basic education at public expense in its Constitution. It says that “Public education for the citizens prior to the college or postsecondary level shall be free and shall be provided for by taxation.”

Reasonable people may argue that this provision, broadly interpreted, would provide for public funding of each student’s education and not necessarily a one size fits all school system. After all, private school students can still earn the HOPE scholarship even though they are “outside the system.”

In 2023 there were approximately 58,000 students in Georgia’s private schools, nearly 5,000 of which were from Fayette-Coweta. I cannot find a reliable estimate of the home school population, but using 10,000-20,000 across Georgia doesn’t seem unreasonable.

Can Georgia claim to meet its constitutional obligation of providing adequate basic education when 60,000-80,000 students do not receive state funds? Especially when you consider that children who choose Charter schools instead of county schools receive on average twice as many state funds?

In round numbers the cost to our state education budget would be between $400-million-to-$500 million, which seems like a large number until you realize it is approximately 3% of the education budget

While some are seeking to invest our budget surplus to use our schools to combat poverty or invest in renewable school transportation options, an investment into educational vouchers may stimulate options for children across the state as new and different options become available.

In the 15 years since Georgia began investing in charter schools, many different types have risen to offer different paths. In a world where parents can invest their money alongside their child’s state educational voucher, the opportunity could be huge for our state and her children.

Some will argue that vouchers are not “fair” because it gives resources to those who already have plenty and others would not have the same opportunities because they lack resources.

However, we ask our schools to service the three R’s — reading, (w)riting and (a)rithmatic. I do not think our school money should be used for redistribution, realigning, nor reordering. Let’s just try doing school well.

To be clear, we have excellent public schools in Fayette and Coweta. If some children take a voucher to try something different that would decrease state funding, but could also result in the local funds being spread over fewer children, creating a win for most.

Some will argue that we need to have every dollar in public education, but with charter schools we don’t today. We should focus on getting our children the education options that will serve them best.

[Neil Sullivan is a finance/accounting executive and CPA. He has lived in Peachtree City over 20 years with his wife Jennifer, a Fayette County History teacher and son Jackson, a sophomore at Erskine College. He has been active in public school related issues in Fayette County, leading three E-SPLOST initiatives as chairman of Fayette Citizens for Children. He has appeared previously on these pages in letters to the editor.]


  1. Has always seemed crazy that we wany choice and competition in everything but education.
    The state mone should be awarded to each student for the family to spend as it wishes to advance their child’s education. Once schools have to compete for students to attend and their associated $ then they will improve or die (like every other business in America).
    Not sure why the fear of religious affiliated schools (especially if people are free to choose non-religious schools for their kids).

      • In that schools play a role in education, I believe they are a business. Schools and education are an enterprise, are a function, and in Georgia, from what I understand, are a right. So, I believe those three or four nouns (role, enterprise, function, right) make schools and education a business.

        • Exactly. This is part of the problem with many government entities in my experience. The focus is on spending funding, not getting results for a good cost. I don’t think anyone is arguing for cheap schools, or at least Im not. However, the taxpayer’s money should be as sacred as the shareholder’s or your own.

          In two of the small systems I mentioned two weeks ago, the highest paid employee was the Title 1 director at over $115k. Together they amounted to over $225k for less than 500 students.

  2. Let’s say Georgia has defined and established standards for providing adequate basic education. Let’s assume there exists certain environmental conditions where providing an adequate basic education is difficult. Contracting a private entity to provide the service is reasonable. Public domains have contracted private entities for as long as there have been public interests (like mercenaries). As to whether it costs more per student capita in certain environment conditions is inconquential. That is, of course, assuming the law or State Constitution guarantees an adequate basic education for “EVERY” person. Therefore, I’m okay with vouchers and supplemental funding derived from taxation.

    Now the question becomes the definition of “environmental conditions.” Are these even sectional, internal, external, physical, emotional, mental, economical, psychological, political, or imaginitive?

  3. I disagree. No taxes, collected by the Federal Government, State Government, or Local Government should be used to financially support any schools, other than public schools. Georgia, since 2007, has only fully funded public education 3 times. It is clear that education (public or private) is NOT a priority in the State of Georgia. If parents want to send their children to non-public schools, they do so on their own dime.

    • I’m with you. Taxes should only go to public schools, if they go to all schools, that undermines public education which is what has made this country great. Not to mention private schools begins the separation between the haves and the have nots.

  4. I generally agree with Mr. Sullivan’s suggestions. I would add the caveats that absolutely ZERO public funds go to any religiously affiliated schools and that home-schooled children must show proficiency regularly in all subjects to be granted even a penny. Religious indoctrination is already turning our country into a frightening theocracy (a Christian version of Iran), and I could see plenty of parents who might try to game the homeschooling system to pocket $5,000 per child.

    But besides these caveats, allowing freedom of choice for parents by having money follow the individual students makes a good deal of sense.

    • Hi STF:

      Thanks for the feedback. First, realize my son went to Trinity Christian grade 6 – 12 and I am very happy with the result, but I will submit that a “Christian” school is no different than any other NGO that you have to look deeper at the ideology and how it is applied.

      In my case, even though FCBOE is constantly top 3 in special education in the state, Trinity had a better approach that worked for my student. Thanks to SB10, we took his state money to pay a part of his education. I led ESPLOST 3 after moving my son. I believe in our schools and that they fit most but not all.

      As far as some parents gaming the system to get money, I will argue that school systems across the state do that today. Taking funds but only warehousing students. We are very blessed in Fayette and Coweta.

      Take Care

      • I’m pleased that your son gained from his educational experience. It sounds like he escaped with an education instead of an indoctrination into hate and oppression of others. Your family was lucky.