School choice bill would give each Nebraska student state money for tuition

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The Education Committee in the Nebraska Legislature held its final day of testimony on Monday, with one bill that would give money to students to pay for school.

Sen. Steve Erdman’s LB 177 would give parents funding each year to send their child to the school of their choice.

“There are a lot of kids trapped in public schools today that can’t afford to go to a school that meets their needs,” Erdman said. “So what we’re trying to do with this bill is we’re trying to give everyone an opportunity to be educated in the method in which it best represents their needs.”

The My Student, My Choice Act would create an account for each K-12 student in Nebraska.

The state would deposit 55% of the average cost per pupil into the account.

The student or their guardians would be given a “smart card” to access the money, which could only be used for educational purposes, including private or public school tuition expenses, curriculum and educational supplies.

Supporters said giving money to all parents is the best way to move forward.

“Funding students empowers families to execute their parental rights over the education of their children,” said Angie Eberspacher, a supporter of the bill. “Parents know their children better than school institutions.”

But those against the bill said it’s too costly.

The state would have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to cover its end of the bill.

Some opponents also worried that the wording on what can be bought with the money is too vague.

“How would hundreds of thousands of bank accounts be easily and effectively monitored?” asked Sunshine Metschke. “How many people would be added to the payroll to receive, review and flag the hundreds of thousands of receipts that will be submitted by parents and legal guardians in order to prove that they have made purchases and payments that fall within the very broad guidelines of what constitutes an eligible expenditure?”

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