Educational Savings Accounts: The “Smartphones” of Parental Choice

CascadeNewLogoBy Kathryn Hickok

Yesterday the Senate Interim Education Committee of the Oregon Legislature held an informational hearing on Educational Savings Accounts, or ESAs. The focus of the hearing was the recently passed ESA legislation from Nevada, which will make 93% of Nevada students eligible for ESAs in 2016 and all students eligible by 2027 (at the latest).

Educational Saving Accounts allow public school students to take money the state would spend on them and put it on a restricted use debit card. Parents can spend this money on a wide variety of approved educational options, such as private school, individual tutoring, and distance learning. Any money not used is rolled over for parents to spend in the future.

State Senator Scott Hammond of Nevada, an architect of the Nevada law, addressed the Committee via speakerphone. During his introduction of Sen. Hammond, Steve Buckstein of Cascade Policy Institute referred to earlier school-choice ideas such as tax credits and vouchers as “the rotary-dial telephones of the school choice movement.” He encouraged the Oregon Legislature to consider legislation modeled on the Nevada law—which to continue the analogy is like a smartphone with unlimited apps.

The hearing set the stage for Oregon ESA legislation to be introduced in a future session. ESAs would give families who can’t afford to pay taxes for the public school system, plus tuition for private options, real opportunities to meet their kids’ individual needs, learning styles, and interests.

Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director and Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland program at Cascade Policy Institute. CSF-Portland is a partner program of the New York-based Children’s Scholarship Fund.

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Posted by at 10:00 | Posted in Education, Oregon Government, Oregon Senate, State Government | Tagged , , | 6 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    Would be nice. Kind of like using the old camel nose under the tent technique (a little flower popping up out of the brick and mortar legacy public school monopoly concrete); only this time we are the beneficiaries of the old camel nose under the tent event.

  • thevillageidiot

    you mean the state will give debit cards for education to the tune of greater than $10,000 per student and use it for what ever education they choose? and roll over the unused amount to be used for say higher education? This really sounds too good to be true. by state I assume this does not include the property tax portion that goes to the school or bonds that come out of property taxes. This smacks of shutting down public schools. Well maybe not quit that far. this means I can educate my childe at home on line to something like the Ron Paul Curriculum and for 500 per year educate my child and save the rest for higher education. pinch me. So how much in Nevada did the state portion amount to? and why 100% eligible from the start?
    sounds too good to be true ,actually getting my tax money back from the state to spend it more prudently.

    • In Nevada the ESA annual amount for most students is 90% of the approximately $5,700 the legislature allocates now to public school districts per child, or $5,100. All students who have been in public schools for 100 days are eligible, with new students entering the system being eligible as the years go by, so in about 13 years all K-12 students will be eligible.

  • JoJo

    Advocates of this excellent plan should also point out that it is a huge benefit to the public school system as well. We hear constantly that overcrowding is a problem – this plan would help alleviate that condition without needing expensive new school buildings. Reducing enrollment can also improve the student/teacher ratio, again with little or no impetus to increase the public school budget. So teacher unions and school administrators should welcome the proposal.
    This would bring comfort to “the village idiot” below who appears to be worried about that, if s/he isn’t being sarcastic – always a danger on Internet comments.

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      • Discuss Nails It

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