CapitolBeatOK Staff Report
OKLAHOMA CITY – The 1889 Institute, an Oklahoma state policy think tank, has published “A Truly Universal Education Savings Account Proposal, Including Fiscal Implications.” This school choice proposal would see the state offer every public-school-age child, kindergarten and above, an Education Savings Account (ESA).
ESAs are state-funded and administered accounts that pay for educational services for children as directed by their parents. Funds can be used for a variety of educational purposes, such as private school tuition, tutoring, books, and online materials. An incentive to economize is provided by allowing leftover ESA funds to be spent on college and career education.
“At maturity, an ESA program of our design could save the state over $500 million per year,” said Vance H. Fried, co-author of the paper and Senior Fellow of the 1889 Institute.
Children currently in private schools would be eligible for ESAs under this proposal. After all, if they all showed up at the public schools’ doors, the public schools would have to take them, and this merely fulfills the promise made to all public-school-age children in the state’s constitution.
The amount of the proposed ESA is $4,500 per child per year, which parents are free to supplement. This amount produces savings when compared to about $7,500 in variable cost savings that would result from a child leaving public school in favor of an ESA.
“There is more than enough evidence of the advantages of school choice programs for academic accomplishment by both children who participate and for those who choose to stay in public schools,” said Byron Schlomach, co-author and Director of the 1889 Institute.,
“This proposal would move Oklahoma from dipping a tepid toe into school choice to being one of a handful of national leaders,” he said.
The proposal includes details on how the program would be administered, including financial and academic accountability. It also proposes a method to prevent a net cost for the state by limiting participation by private school children early in the program’s implementation.
About the 1889 Institute: The 1889 Institute is an Oklahoma think tank committed to independent, principled state policy fostering limited and responsible government, free enterprise and a robust civil society.
The publication, “A Truly Universal Education Savings Account Proposal, Including Fiscal Implications” and a summary can be found on the nonprofit’s website at http://www.1889institute.org/ed-choice.html.