update deskSchools & Higher Education

School choice law a ‘major win for Alabama families’

“Passing universal school choice in Alabama alone would make this a banner year, but there’s reason to expect even greater progress in 2024,” said Jason Bedrick, of Heritage Foundation.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey  held a news conference to sign the CHOOSE Act, HB129, in the State Capitol Old House Chamber on March 7, 2024 in Montgomery, Ala. Credit: Hal Yeager/Alabama Governor's Office.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey held a news conference to sign the CHOOSE Act, HB129, in the State Capitol Old House Chamber on March 7, 2024 in Montgomery, Ala. Credit: Hal Yeager/Alabama Governor's Office.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed school choice legislation, which creates education savings accounts for families, into law on Thursday.

“Alabama is only the 14th state in the nation to provide families with an education savings account option,” Ivey, a Republican, stated. “Our plan will not only work for Alabama families. It will work for the state and will be effective and sustainable for generations to come.”

House Bill 129, also called the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Our Students’ Education (CHOOSE) Act of 2024, appropriates $100 million annually, with $7,000 available per family to use for qualifying educational expenses.

“With the CHOOSE Act, Alabama will now be a leader when it comes to school choice,” Ivey said. “I am hopeful that this will make a difference for Alabama families.”

The legislation is slated to begin on Jan. 1, 2025 for families with “an adjusted gross income not exceeding 300% of the federal poverty level for the preceding tax year.”

On Jan. 1, 2027, it is scheduled to be available to all families.

Jason Bedrick, a research fellow in the Center for Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation, told JNS that the bill’s passage is “a major win for Alabama families who want to choose learning environments that align with their values.”

The law “will eventually make school choice scholarships available to all Alabama families with children in K-12 grades, putting parents in charge of the education options for their children,” Bedrick said.

The scholar added that there has been “major progress” in a universal school choice bill that just passed the Wyoming state Senate.

“We’re closely watching Idaho, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee,” Bedrick told JNS. “Election years usually see a smaller number of bills passed. Passing universal school choice in Alabama alone would make this a banner year, but there’s reason to expect even greater progress in 2024.”

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