School Choice 2.0 Set to Spread

School Choice 2.0 Set to Spread
March 27, 2014

Joy Pullmann

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)

School Choice Weekly #31

Arizona’s supreme court allowed education savings accounts to flourish in the state last Friday by refusing to review a lower court’s decision in the matter. Four bills now in the legislature to expand the program have just gotten a push, and so have efforts to expand the idea everywhere.

Education savings accounts (ESAs) add extra juicy goodness to the voucher concept by giving parents even more control over their children’s education tax dollars. Instead of letting parents sign a state check over to one school, the state deposits a child’s education money into an audited savings account parents can use for more than just tuition. They can spend on tuition, but also augment school with education therapies for special needs, sports or enrichment classes, tutoring, and more. This expands the incentive for parents to control education costs and gives them the freedom to mix and match their child’s education rather than purchasing school as a bulk product from only one supplier. Think of it as homeschooling with wings.

Although the ESA concept is slowly spreading through legislatures, it can multiply within existing choice schools, as well. If charter or voucher schools wanted to adopt the concept, they could become a sort of Genius Bar for education, consulting with families to build education packages for each child that consist of different selections of classes and experiences from a variety of providers, not all or even any of which are from the school itself or even a school at all. They could be instead community organizations like libraries and colleges or the local ballet troupe, symphony, or engineering firm. How many parents do you know who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to custom design their child’s education like that?

Just think of the possibilities!



School Choice Roundup

  • FLORIDA: A proposed expansion of Florida’s popular K–12 tax-credit scholarships has failed, but that may not be so bad since the bill included regulations that would have hurt school choice.

Common Core Watch

  • INDIANA: Gov. Mike Pence signs a bill requiring the state to jettison Common Core, making Indiana the first state to do so. The current replacement draft looks very similar to Common Core, largely because Pence staffers favor the Core and are running the rewrite.
  • THE MOVIE: A free documentary about Common Core will be live online this coming Monday. It interviews dozens of leaders on both sides of the issue.

Education Today

  • MICHIGAN: A reporter finds a clause in a teachers union contract granting special preferences to basically every job applicant except men, white people, and Christians.
  • NEVADA: Teachers unions seek to raise taxes on larger businesses to shovel more money at schools. Nevadans pay an average of $8,400 per public-school student already.

Joy Pullmann

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)