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Education Savings Accounts Will Empower Oklahoma Families

All children are unique. Shouldn’t our public education system reflect their differing goals, interests, and abilities? Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) are designed to address the educational needs of each individual child and family.

ESAs are government-authorized accounts controlled by parents or guardians. Through an ESA, parents can use a portion of the state’s public education funding for their child to pay for certain educational expenses, such as private school tuition, tutoring, books, or curriculum. ESAs empower parents with more options to provide the education that best fits their child.

We have many great schools in Oklahoma. However, every school cannot be expected to meet every need for every child. A one-size-fits-all approach to education does not properly address the differences and unique requirements of our children. ESAs expand educational opportunities for every child, not based on their zip code, but based on their need. ESAs will level the playing field for all families and will open the door to a quality education for children of all backgrounds across Oklahoma.

Another benefit of ESAs is that they will provide additional educational choices to parents and families without hurting local public school funding. ESAs only use a portion of the state’s per-pupil spending under the funding formula for a child participating in the program. The rest of the state’s funding goes to the same local school district where the child would have attended. Thus, additional money is left in the school district to pay for a child who is no longer enrolled, which can be used by the local district for whatever purpose they desire.

Five states have already adopted Education Savings Accounts: Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Nevada. Oklahoman children deserve the same flexibility as the children in those states who have ESA programs.