By Bobbie Jager
Senate Bill 668, introduced in this year’s Oregon Legislative Session, would create an Education Savings Account program here in Oregon.
Senate Bill 668 will receive an informational hearing in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, June 5, at 1 pm at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem.
If you support parental choice in education, please plan to attend the hearing or submit your own testimony online.
Children in 29 states and the District of Columbia currently benefit from 62 operating school choice programs. Oregon students, regardless of their ZIP Codes or income levels, deserve the opportunity for an education that fits their unique needs and goals.
Education Savings Accounts put more options within reach for all students, especially those who need them the most. Click here for a fact sheet on ESAs.
Unlike school voucher programs, ESA programs give parents the flexibility to spend their allocated funding on more than just private school tuition. Depending on the specifics of individual ESA programs, approved uses for ESA funds also can include textbooks, online classes, tutoring, testing, AP classes, dual-enrollment courses, homeschool expenses, and education-related fees. Some ESA programs operate like controlled-use debit cards, with which parents can pay only for legitimate education expenses.
Senate Bill 668 would create an Education Savings Account program for K-12 students who choose to leave their zoned public schools for other options. Children from families with income less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level and children with a disability would receive $6,500 deposited into their accounts. All other participating children would receive $4,900 deposited into their accounts. Funds remaining in a child’s account after expenses are paid each year could be “rolled over” for use in subsequent years, including post-secondary education within Oregon.
ESA programs are frequently designed so the amount of funding support provided to participating students would be less than the amount the state would have spent for a student to attend a public school, with the state recouping the difference. In this way,ESAs can provide a net fiscal benefit to state and local government budgets.
Because parents, not the government, direct the spending of funds in their children’s Education Savings Accounts, ESA programs have stood up to constitutional challenges. A state’s government is not “picking winners and losers” in the non-public education sector, nor is it directing taxpayer funds to specific institutions.
Schools chosen by parents are accountable to parents, who are free to “vote with their feet” and enroll in schools that are providing value. Because ESAs are not a “use it or lose it” benefit, parents have a strong incentive to use their ESA funds with education providers with whom they are satisfied.
Senate Bill 668 would provide a “ticket to the future” for Oregon K-12 students.
Please tell your legislators you want Oregon parents to have more power to provide their children with the schools and educational support that are best for them.
Attend the hearing, submit your own testimony online, oremail your legislator in support of Education Savings Accounts!
If you have questions about the June 5 informational hearing, or about Education Savings Accounts, please call or email me.