Giving Every Child an Excellent Future with Education Savings Accounts –

by | Nov 21, 2022 | Education

In July 2022, Arizona lawmakers converted the nation’s oldest K–12 education savings account (ESA) policy into the country’s most inclusive learning option: Every child in Arizona can now apply for a private account that empowers families to customize a student’s learning experience according to his or her unique needs.REFWith an ESA, the state deposits a portion of a child’s education spending from the state K–12 formula—the formula used to determine per-student spending in traditional schools—into a private account that parents use to buy education products and services for their children. The accounts are worth approximately $7,000 for mainstream children, with larger amounts awarded to children with special needs. Families can use an ESA to hire a personal tutor for their child, find an education therapist, pay private school tuition, buy curricula and textbooks, save money from year to year for future expenses, and more. The accounts allow families to choose more than one education product or service; moreover, they provide the versatility parents needed to continue their children’s education during the pandemic when schools were closed to in-person learning.REF

Arizona lawmakers adopted the nation’s first ESAs for children with special needs in 2011, and nine other states (Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia) subsequently created similar ESA opportunities for eligible students. Each state offers accounts to children who meet different criteria.

After the pandemic, as researchers report steep learning losses across grade levels and subjects, the call for quality learning options is especially urgent. Arizona’s new law is remarkable because all K–12 children can participate. In Florida and Tennessee, for example, children with certain special needs are eligible, while Mississippi and North Carolina’s accounts operate under strict caps on the number of participating students due to eith …

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