As the past year has shown us, educational flexibility and autonomy benefits children, parents, and teachers. The Georgia House Republican Caucus will always support parents in making the best decisions for their children. We also continue to stand behind and empower our hard-working teachers as they work to educate the next generation of Georgians.
Back home, we are blessed in District 159 to have schools that prioritized getting children back into the classroom as soon as safely possible, but that was not the case for many students across our state.
My colleagues shared story after story with me of families struggling to balance virtual school and everyday life.
Some of these families chose to allow their children to gather in “learning pods” — groups where students can participate in virtual learning together.
These learning pods gave students more structure while learning and allowed socialization opportunities when their schools were still not open.
Unfortunately, some schools and school systems in our state were not supportive of the idea of learning pods.
Instead, they attempted to apply regulations that would have eliminated this option for their students. Senate Bill 246 protects parents and their rights to make educational decisions for their children. SB 246 prohibits Georgia school systems, whether state or local, from regulating learning pods when a student’s schooling is primarily offered virtually.
I believe that Georgia schools will continue to prioritize keeping children safely in the classroom.
Still, if virtual learning becomes necessary in the future, Georgia families need options that provide them support and structure.
This past Session, we also passed Senate Bill 42, which allows homeschooled students to participate in extracurricular activities through the school they would enroll in if they attended public schools. To participate in these activities, the student must enroll in a course through their school system, which can include a dual enrollment course.
There are additional requirements for participation, including requirements to complete the tryout process that all other students complete. The homeschooled students must also follow the same rules and regulations that students in traditional schools must follow while participating.
SB 42 will allow parents to make choices about their children’s education while still permitting them to participate in their community activities and local schools.
When we return to Atlanta next January for Session, we will continue to uphold Georgia families’ need for flexibility in making choices about their children’s education. If you have ideas on how we can better support our students, parents, and teachers, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), e-mail, or participate on Facebook to share your thoughts and concerns.
It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly, and I look forward to seeing you soon.
Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly, where he serves as the House majority leader.