Statement by IDRA and GYJC Opposing Senate Bill 233

IDRA GYJC logos(Atlanta – March 20, 2024) Today, the Georgia General Assembly approved Senate Bill 233, a harmful voucher bill that diverts much-needed resources for the state’s 1.7 million students in public schools to cover private school tuition and other expenses for a small few. As an organization dedicated to fostering equitable and excellent public schools that serve all students, IDRA stands alongside Georgia students, families and communities in opposing this legislation. The Georgia Youth Justice Coalition – a collective of students from across the state, advocating for the fully and fairly funded public education every young Georgian deserves – also opposed this measure.

Vouchers Drain Public Education Resources

SB 233 provides a $6,500 school voucher to families with eligible students to use for private school tuition or certain other educational expenses. Because funding for public schools is dependent on the number of students in attendance, every private school voucher the state gives to an individual family to leave the public education system drains money from Georgia’s public schools, undermining their financial stability and compromising their ability to serve the majority of students in our state.

The answer to supporting students at Georgia’s low-performing public schools is to provide the funding and resources schools need to support their students, which has not been done in decades, not defunding them to put public money in unaccountable, inaccessible private schools.

“I want to see my legislators put funding into schools like mine because, right now, they are failing every student at that school and schools like it that deserve a fighting chance,” said Cindy Nguyen, Georgia Youth Justice Coalition organizer and Charles R Drew High School graduate.

“By passing SB 233, legislators showed an utter disregard for the majority of Georgia’s students and the future of this state.”

She added: “If our state legislature fully and fairly funded, our public education system, especially schools like Drew High with high rates of poverty, I believe that every student in Georgia would be able to pursue the dreams they never thought possible. By passing SB 233, legislators showed an utter disregard for the majority of Georgia’s students and the future of this state.”

“The impact of lost funding will most harm students in the schools that are the target of the voucher,” said IDRA Georgia Adovacy Director Mikayla Arciaga, M.A.Ed.

SB 233 allows families to use a voucher if their child’s school is ranked in the bottom 25% of schools according to state accountability measures. However, a low school ranking should instead trigger an investment of appropriate support from the state, not a divestment of resources. The financial penalty that flows from vouchers harms the educators, students and families in those schools that may already be dealing with years of chronic underinvestment by the state.

Vouchers Support Unaccountable Schools that May Discriminate

Public schools accept all students, regardless of their background. However, vouchers can lead to taxpayer-funded discrimination as private schools can deny admission or educational services to students with disabilities, students from different religious faiths, and students from other diverse backgrounds, including students or parents who are LGBTQ+.

Once in private schools, these students will not have the same federal civil rights protections they do in public schools. They may be exposed to discriminatory treatment – including in-school discipline or in schools’ responses to bullying and harassment – with limited options for families to challenge the private schools’ decisions.

Vouchers Do Not Improve Performance in Public or Private Schools

Private schools lack state accountability for academic and financial performance, raising serious concerns about transparency about the use of public funds and the quality of education provided to voucher recipients. These vouchers may go to schools with uncertified teachers and curricula not vetted by educational experts.

Reviews of voucher programs in other states have found that students in voucher programs scored significantly lower than public school students on reading and math tests. And vouchers did not lead to improved scores for students who received them. Neither did vouchers improve public school performance.

The best way to strengthen public schools is to strengthen state support for and investment in public schools.

Vouchers Subsidize Wealthy Families

Voucher programs can simply subsidize families who already send their children to private schools. In fact, SB 233 has only limited income restrictions and would allow families – even ones that can already afford private school – to use the voucher from kindergarten through twelfth grade without ever sending their child to a Georgia public school.

Even if families with limited financial resources receive a voucher, they are responsible for tuition that is, on average, higher than the value of that voucher, transportation and all other costs associated with private school. Georgians with the most financial need will not likely benefit from this voucher, but instead attend public schools that receive fewer resources due to the voucher system.

IDRA and the Georgia Youth Justice Coalition urge Governor Kemp to veto SB 233 and direct the Georgia General Assembly to explore alternative proven measures to enhance the state’s public education system.

We remain committed to engaging in constructive dialogue and offering solutions to ensure that all Georgia students have access to a high-quality public school education.

IDRA Media Contact: Thomas Marshall III, M.Ed., IDRA policy communications strategist (

GYJC Media Contact: Isabelle Philip, UGA student and GYJC narrative director (

IDRA is a national independent, non-profit organization. Our mission is to achieve equal educational opportunity for every child through strong public schools that prepare all students to access and succeed in college.

Georgia Youth Justice Coalition (GYJC) is a statewide, youth-led collective of students organizing for a better, brighter Georgia for all, from the classroom to the Capitol.