podcastED: reimaginED executive editor Matthew Ladner and Heritage Foundation’s Jonathan Butcher discuss education savings accounts

On this episode, Ladner and the Heritage Foundation’s Will Skillman Education Fellow discuss Butcher’s new report studying spending trends of families using North Carolina’s Education Savings Account.


The report shows that significantly more families in North Carolina are using their ESA money on different purchases and services than in other states that have ESA programs. Ladner and Butcher dive into the particulars of the ESA program in North Carolina and how it can be used with other choice options available to families in the Tar Heel state. They also discuss the decade-long history of ESAs and how more states appear willing to create the flexible spending option for families seeking additional choice in education.

“As long as these entrenched systems and interest groups remain committed to limiting the choices that parents have, we will always have tension between those that want students to be successful and those that want a system to provide what they consider to be the same outcomes for everyone – and that’s not what anyone should want.”


  • Education choice in North Carolina, the scholarships available to families, and how the ESA grew from the programs in Arizona and Florida
  • The bright future for choice programs as they become more ubiquitous and withstand legal challenges
  • How the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated Education Savings Accounts and other forms of schooling
  • The broad look at ESA programs after 10 years and how the Espinoza v. Montana Supreme Court decision changed the dynamics of education choice in America