The Buckeye Institute recently released a report advocating for the implementation of Education Savings Accounts for Ohio’s students, something it says could help school districts and educators put students first.
The brief, written by research fellow Greg Lawson, argues that flexible funding provided by ESAs can “help close some of the opportunity gaps and make the transition to new curricula easier and less expensive for families.”
Under an ESA model, state education funds would be placed into specialized accounts used by parents to pay for textbooks, online classes, participating private schools and other education needs.
“Closing opportunity gaps for students requires empowering parents to spend education dollars on education that actually fits their children. It requires a student-first funding system in which the money first follows the student and then reaches the education or technology provider best able to meet the student’s academic needs,” Lawson writes. “Regrettably, Ohio’s current school funding system pays the public school districts first and only then deducts funds for charter schools and voucher programs from the districts’ budgets. This formula pits school districts against academic alternatives that may be the better fit for students, because when students leave the public school for a charter school and take state funds with them, district administrators cry foul as if ‘their money’ has walked out the door.”
Lawson also highlighted the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Ohio’s education system. In the 2020-2021 school year, public schools have seen a drop of 53,000 students, while enrollment has spiked by roughly 13,000 students for charter schools and 5,000 for homeschooling.
The institute argues that ESAs can provide families with flexibility for their children’s education, as well as open up choices for Ohio students.
“With the General Assembly embarking on the biennial budget process, and leaders in both chambers acknowledging the need to reform school funding, now is the perfect time for Ohio to begin funding students first,” Lawson wrote.
Read the entire report here.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Ohio Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair.