Celebrating National School Choice Week – The ESA Frontier: Boldly going where education reform has (hardly) gone before
The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s first and only free-market think tank, joins with hundreds of groups nationwide to celebrate the fifth annual National School Choice Week (Jan. 25-31). Since its beginning more than 11 years ago, the Bluegrass Institute has been the leading voice to give Kentucky parents effective alternatives to ensure that each child receives a quality education. As part of National School Choice Week, the Bluegrass Institute will publish a series of blogs offering information on different types of school choice. This series will be one of 6,000 events nationwide taking place as part of this year’s National School Choice Week.
“Charter and voucher programs were the rotary telephones of our movement – an awesome technology that did one amazing thing. We are heading in the direction of iPhone choice programs – they still do that one thing well, but they also do a lot of other things.” –Matthew Ladner, Foundation for Excellence in Education
- Just like ‘health savings accounts’ (HSAs) empower individuals to take responsibility for their own health care, so ‘education savings accounts’ (ESAs) empower parents with the resources to provide the best education – including needed services – for their children.
- Just like HSAs are designed to provide access to quality health care for individuals who otherwise would be unable to afford it, so ESAs provide access to a quality education for students who ^ would hopelessly be stuck in failing schools.
- Just like HSAs allow individuals to tailor a health-care program to fit their unique needs – instead of paying for services they neither want nor need – so ESAs empower parents to access at least some of their tax dollars meant to educate children. Parents may use these dollars for: private-school tuition and fees; textbooks; certified tutors; services for special-needs children, including therapists; universities and community colleges; online programs; online programs; individual public-school courses controlled by parents.
- Just like HSA recipients receive a debit card loaded with funds allowing them to negotiate prices and pay for medical expenses, so ESA families receive debit cards loaded with funds allowing them to pay for approved expenses needed to pay for their children’s educational services.
- Just like HSAs allow unused monies to be saved by recipients for future health-care expenses, so unused ESA monies can be used by parents for future education expenses, including paying for college and providing therapy and tutoring for special-needs children. This creates an effective incentive to vigorously negotiate for services, thus lowering costs – both for health care and education! “Parents have an incentive to seek maximum value for each dollar spent because these account based programs allow for saving for future higher education expenses.” –Matthew Ladner, Foundation for Excellence in Education
Currently, only Arizona and Florida offer ESA programs:
* Florida limits ESA access to families of special-needs children
* Arizona makes the nation’s most expansive ESA policy available to serve: special-needs children; foster-care children; children zoned to attend a failing school; families of active duty military personnel; children who lost a parent in active duty.
Click here for ESA model legislation.