What parents need to know about education savings accounts

Education choice advocates nationwide are lauding Arizona’s recent expansion of school choice under the leadership of Gov. Doug Ducey via education savings accounts as the gold standard for the education choice movement and a model for other states to follow.

Editor’s note: This commentary on why Florida should follow Arizona’s lead on education savings accounts for all students appeared Tuesday on Tallahassee.com.

After elections and with our next legislative session, we should reclaim our opportunity to expand educational freedom to all young students in the state of Florida.

Florida’s well-deserved A+ position began over 20 years ago, when then-Gov. Jeb Bush lead educational reforms that established a strong foundation for success. Now, to continue building on that achievement, we must become more competitive in guaranteeing educational freedom. That means adopting universal Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).

ESAs are savings accounts managed by parents and used exclusively for the educational benefit of their child. The accounts give families the autonomy to direct their child’s funding to the schools, courses, programs, and services they choose.

This personalized approach to education maximizes each child’s natural learning abilities. Every child in Florida should have the flexibility to pursue the kind of education most tailored to their individual needs, and one that sets them up for lifelong learning and success.

Florida could learn a lesson from some other states. For example, West Virginia adopted a nearly universal ESA program that is open to all public-school aged kids or kids who are about to enter kindergarten, ensuring that more parents can access the kind of education that works best for their children.

Even better, Arizona is the first state in the nation to adopt an ESA program that provides true universal eligibility, allowing all families to decide what learning environment works best for their children. Gov. Doug Ducey signed the legislation last week and has voiced his excitement that Arizona is leading the way in expanding school choice, and this new law makes them the most educationally free state in the nation.

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