By Jonathan Butcher of the Goldwater Institute
PHOENIX – Your daughter is struggling with math. You’ve talked to her teacher, bought flash cards, and helped her with homework, but nothing has made the lessons stick so far.
Then your neighbor tells you about this tutor nearby who helped her son with the same subject. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get your daughter extra help? Better yet, your daughter found this fun online math game, but it requires a subscription and you’re nervous about being able to afford both every month.
Fortunately for Arizona families, our state has the most innovative way for students to find a great education in the U.S.: education savings accounts. The Arizona Department of Education deposits 90 percent of a child’s per student funding from the state formula in a private bank account operated by parents, and families can use the accounts to buy online classes, hire a tutor, pay private school tuition, or even save for college. In the 2012-13 school year, 302 children used an account.
Today, the Goldwater Institute and The Heritage Foundation released a special report explaining how savings accounts give parents more flexibility in education and suggests ways in which to take tax credit scholarships and school vouchers and enhance their effectiveness through education savings accounts. Expanding Education Choices: From Vouchers and Tax Credits to Savings Accounts provides three ways for states like Arizona, Florida, and Wisconsin, states that already allow some students to use tax credit scholarships or vouchers, to give families more flexibility through the accounts:
- Creating public school education savings accounts. Parents could use a public school education savings account for traditional school classes, public charter school offerings, virtual schools such as the Florida Virtual School, community colleges, or state universities.
- Shifting existing school voucher or scholarship tax credit funds to an education savings account. States with existing voucher programs or scholarship tax credit programs should allow parents to deposit voucher or scholarship funds into an education savings account in order to gain more flexibility with their child’s funds.
- Expanding the approved expenses covered by a voucher or private school scholarship. This would include expanding the uses of a school voucher or scholarship, transitioning the program into an education savings account.
Every child should have the opportunity to find a great education, and education savings accounts will give all children the chance a bright future.