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Education savings accounts

ESAs and the next wave of education innovation

Backers of the newest generation of educational choice programs seem to have found a favorite analogy. Education savings accounts, they'll often say, are like the smartphones of school choice. To skeptics, might sound like another lazy tech metaphor in education reform, but there's a reason the parallel between education savings accounts and iPhones has caught on. Advocates of ESAs hope to create a system in which parents to use state funding to cover a wide range of education expenses tailored to their children's needs. They hope that, in turn, will create a platform for new education providers, some of which may be hard to envision today — much like Uber...

Education savings accounts and trusting parents

DENVER - There were more than a few wet eyes in a room full of education reform advocates when Katie Swingle told her story of finding the right school for her son. After learning a traditional public-school setting wouldn't work, she found a specialized private school that could help her son overcome autism, dyslexia, and speech apraxia. She now has hope he'll return to public school one day. On Thursday, Swingle, who has also wowed Florida legislators with her story, said that as states expand educational choice for students with special needs, other parents' stories might be different from hers. While she used a Personal Learning...

A radical’s take on educational freedom

This guest post is part of our continuing series on the center-left roots of school choice. It may be hard for younger readers to imagine a time when to be anti-establishment was a position of the political left. Today, of course, the left is so well-ensconced in positions of power and influence in academia, media, the professions and government that those who criticize any of these bastions are immediately labeled as belonging to a neolithic right that does not appreciate the ever-unfolding benefits of the new establishment’s guidance. In the 1960s, though, to be critical of the establishment was the hallmark of...

Is 2015 the new ‘year of school choice?’

The school choice movement has already set a new high-water mark this year. The Wall Street Journal labeled 2011 the "year of school choice," after states either created or expanded 13 school choice programs. But 2015 has surpassed that tally, and then some. Jason Bedrick of the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute has been doggedly keeping track. As of my last update in early July, there were 17 new or expanded choice programs in 14 states. On Friday, North Carolina lawmakers finally passed a long-overdue budget that expanded the state’s two school voucher programs for low-income and special-needs students, bringing the total number to 19 new or expanded...

Berkeley liberals and the roots of ESAs

This is the second post in our series on the Voucher Left. Way back in 1978, when Bee Gees ruled the radio and kids dumped pinball for Space Invaders, a couple of liberal Berkeley law professors were promoting a variation on “universal” school vouchers that they believed would ensure equity for the poor. Along the way, they foreshadowed a revolutionary twist on parental choice that would make national headlines nearly four decades later. John E. “Jack” Coons and Stephen Sugarman didn’t use the term “education savings accounts” in their book, “Education by Choice.” But they described a sweeping plan for publicly...