Study Calls for Education Savings Accounts

Various programs are in place, or seeking to be put in place, that expand school choice options for students and their parents. The Goldwater Institute recommends education savings accounts as a logical next step in those efforts, with several states currently considering such legislation.

Establishing education savings accounts in Arizona and elsewhere could make school choice a viable option for more families, a new report by the Goldwater Institute argues.

The report from the Phoenix-based state policy organization makes the case that Arizona’s existing school choice provisions—including a popular but controversial corporate tax credit program—are insufficient to meet the demands of families throughout the Grand Canyon State.

To provide more options to Arizona children, the state should create individual education savings accounts providing 90 percent of current state per-pupil spending, suggest report writers Matthew Ladner, Goldwater’s vice president for research, and Nick Dranias, director of the organization’s Moller Institute for Constitutional Government.

Parents could use money deposited in their ESAs for private school tuition, online education, or even save the money to pay for their child’s college, Ladner and Dranias suggest in  “Education Savings Accounts: Giving Parents Control of their Children’s Education.”

‘Maximum Control to Parents’
Ladner says education savings accounts would maximize school choice options for families.

“A system of choice based upon ESAs gives the maximum possible level of control to parents,” he explained. “Parents can choose between a large array of education programs, including private schools, college courses, tutors, and online programs.

“Parents will have the incentive to choose academically and cost-effective programs, as they will have the ability to save money not spent [and use it] for college expenses,” Ladner added.

Ladner says such a plan would have a good chance of being passed by the state legislature. “An ESA bill was introduced into the Arizona Senate with a majority of Senators as cosponsors. Lawmakers have been developing bills in Arizona, Florida, Montana, and Ohio,” he noted.