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Education savings accounts

What do parents buy with education savings accounts?

As Arizona's first-in-the-nation education savings account grew larger and got more mature, parents still spent the majority of their educational choice scholarships on private-school tuition, a new study shows. The report, released this week by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, drives home an important point about what many say are the next generation of educational choice programs: They're not the same as conventional school vouchers, and many parents use them to pay for educational expenses other than tuition, such as therapy, curriculum and tutoring. But while nearly 30 percent of parents used the accounts for multiple purposes, 83 percent of total spending in...

Will Arizona be the next state to pass universal ESAs?

This year, Florida's education savings account program surpassed Arizona's Empowerment Scholarship Accounts to become the largest in the nation. The land of the Grand Canyon may be looking to reclaim its title. On Monday, Arizona's state Senate approved a measure that would make its ESAs available to all current public school students by the 2018-19 school year. The House is weighing identical legislation, which means lawmakers there could soon follow their counterparts in Nevada, who last year became the first to enact a near-universal ESA program. Unlike traditional school vouchers, ESAs allow parents to pay tuition at public or private schools, or to...

Tax credit education savings accounts?

Education Savings Accounts are considered the way of the future for school choice, but there's a problem. If states start using ESAs to let parents customize their education, they risk running into some of the same legal pitfalls that have tripped up school vouchers, including so-called Blaine amendments that stop most states from steering public funding to religious institutions. A new report from the Cato Institute explores a potential path around these legal obstacles: Funding ESAs through tax-credited donations. Like with tax credit scholarships, states could offer donors a 100 percent credit for contributions to scholarship organizations that help manage the money, which parents could use...

Infrastructure for ESAs: Why Jeb Bush’s education plan deserves attention

The education plan released last week by Jeb Bush is the most sweeping of any of the Republican presidential candidates. Critics, supporters and other observers have seized on a similar theme: It recalls the policies he backed as governor of Florida, including expanded parental choice. In some ways, they're right. But Bush's plan deserves attention from the educational choice movement, regardless of how this presidential campaign turns out, for a different reason: It's one of the first serious proposals to overhaul federally funded education programs in a way that could give parents almost full control. It would create a framework that could help...

Gov. Scott approves expanded Gardiner Scholarships for special needs students

With Gov. Rick Scott's signature, Florida's newest educational choice program will have a new name, and will be able to serve more students. Flanked by Senate President Andy Gardiner and his family, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, and the lawmakers who sponsored the legislation, Scott approved SB 672 this afternoon during a ceremony in the governor's office. The new law increases funding for Gardiner scholarships by roughly a third, to $71.2 million. It also allows more 3- and 4-year-olds to use the education savings accounts for students with special needs, and makes them available to children with muscular dystrophy and a wider range of students with autism. The scholarships,...

Wishing all parents can have access to educational services they need

Note: Parents who have chosen a variety of schooling options have shared their educational wishes for 2016. This is the final installment in this year's series. by Jennifer Wilmot Seven years ago, my daughter was born a beautiful, pink baby girl: six pounds, six ounces, ten fingers, ten toes, and a full head of hair. Yet, just minutes after being placed in my arms that first time, she was diagnosed with a cleft palate, and hours after that, we would nearly lose her to severe heart defects. Since then, my entry into the world of special needs parenting has been a persistent whirlwind. My...

Wishing special needs children can get support they need, without a fight

Note: This week on the blog, parents who have chosen a variety of schooling options will be sharing their educational wishes for 2016. by Lydia Burton When I think of the wishes that I have for my child, so many of them revolve around his education. Not just the ability to tailor his education to his individual needs, to provide him with all of the resources that I possibly can, and to help him realize his full potential, but for other people outside of the special needs circle to truly understand why his individualized education plan is important, and to help stand up...

ESAs and equity: Why the educational choice movement needs the left

Educational choice advocates have urged caution amid early reports that show, so far, Nevada's new, near-universal education savings account program seems to be attracting families who are relatively well-off. They're right to note these participation numbers reflect the "earliest of the early adopters." It will take time for outreach efforts to inform low-income families about their new options, and to allow a new education marketplace to develop in the Silver State. But the early participation data, and the debate swirling around it, also show why it's important for the educational choice movement to cultivate support among people, especially those on the political left, who may be...