By Phil Kent –
The list of Georgia students currently eligible for private school scholarships include children with disabilities– such as blindness, traumatic injury and behavioral disorders. Now state Rep. Randy Nix, R-LaGrange, wants to add to this list of disabilities countless legal refugees who speak English poorly or not at all. Surprisingly and with little notice, H.B. 296 — the private scholarship expansion– passed the House of Representatives on March 9. It left one veteran lobbyist (who asked not to be identified) questioning if most of the representatives had even read this “freebie for refugees” legislation.
Private school vouchers or scholarships are used by parents who feel their disabled children aren’t being adequately served in public schools. They pay for private school tuition. So under this reasoning, if this bill is passed, qualifying students would be required to have an I-94 clearance, with a refugee admission stamp, and would have to be deemed “limited English proficient” as defined by federal law in order to get the taxpayer-funded scholarship.
Aside from warping the definition of “disability,” the lobbyist notes that this bill circumvents, and even undercuts, the English immersion programs in most Georgia public schools that are helpful to legal immigrants and refugees as they assimilate into our culture and learn our unifying tongue of English.
Gov. Nathan Deal has complained on several occasions to the federal government (joined by some Democrat lawmakers in DeKalb County, where the majority of Third World refugees are settled) that the state has been receiving too many foreign refugees and that they are swamping some schools and the social services system. The lobbyist wonders if H.B. 296 isn’t “just isn’t one more magnet to draw even more refugees here.” The special “disabled” refugee scholarship bill is now pending before the state Senate.