To Meet Kids’ Urgent Education Needs, Oregon Should Give Parents a “Money-Back Guarantee” Through School Choice
By Kathryn Hickok
School choice has been increasing in popularity with parents for years. Education policies that give parents more options for their kids have been trending positively across most demographics.
Now, a late-April poll conducted by Heart + Mind Strategies reports that a majority of parents are considering changing their children’s future school enrollment. Parents were asked: “Has the impact of coronavirus on your child’s education caused you to consider changing your child’s future schooling?” Among public school parents, 14% said they are considering homeschooling, 20% said they are considering a private school, and 26% said they are considering a different public school.
Education Savings Account programs are an education funding solution that addresses the needs of parents today. ESAs give parents a kind of “money-back guarantee” if they want to opt out of their zoned public schools and choose other options. ESA programs currently operating in five states deposit a portion of the state funding that would be spent for a student in a public school into an account associated with the child’s family. Families can use those funds to pay for tuition or other education expenses.
ESA legislation can be designed to be fiscally neutral, or even net-positive, for school districts while giving parents several thousand dollars per child to spend on the school options of their choice.
COVID-19 will change the way students attend school. Out of this situation can come a chance to improve kids’ options through flexible, personalized delivery of education.
Kathryn Hickok is Executive Vice President at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization. She is also Director of Cascade’s Children’s Scholarship Fund-Oregon program, which has provided private scholarships worth more than $3.3 million to lower-income Oregon children to help them attend tuition-based elementary schools since 1999.
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