WILL Press Release | Releases New Report Exploring Education Savings Accounts Around the United States

Provides roadmap for Wisconsin policymakers

July 13, 2016 – Milwaukee, WI – Today, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty released a comprehensive study of Education Savings Accounts (ESA) across the country.  Called “school choice 2.0” by some, Education Savings Accounts allow education dollars to flow from the state to parents for their child’s K-12 education.  Unlike a voucher – which can only be “spent” on tuition — an ESA allows families to spend money on their child’s education wherever and however they choose.  This could mean online courses to learn Mandarin or calculus, textbooks, private tutors, transportation costs, or classes at private schools.  Or, perhaps, a combination of all of the above.

ESAs represent the complete unbundling of education, funding children instead of buildings.  Yet they are not some futuristic education reform pipe dream.  Five states have their own ESA programs – giving over 850,000 children access to an ESA – and many more have started the debate about whether to adopt an ESA.  Should Wisconsin be next?

Co-authored by WILL’s Alexandra Hudson and Rick Esenberg, the study explores:

  1. why Wisconsin policymakers may want to consider an Education Savings Account program,
  2. the ESA programs already in place in Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Mississippi, and Tennessee,
  3. challenges and criticisms of ESAs, and
  4. issues to consider for a Wisconsin ESA program.

Once a great leader in the education movement, Wisconsin last undertook a major reform in 1990 with the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.  At the time, the whole country took notice and tried to replicate what we accomplished.

It is time the Badger State talks about being leaders in education reform once again.  WILL’s latest report, “A Primer on 21st Century Education Policy,” explains how that could be done.


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