Oklahoma Lawmakers Introduce ESA legislation

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Oklahoma lawmakers have introduced Education Savings Account legislation. You could not ask for a more capable and committed champion than Rep. Jason Nelson and Oklahoma could benefit from the reform. Oklahoma could benefit from broadening the opportunities available to students. The Census Bureau projections for youth population increase are well above the take-up rates for private choice programs, so the public school establishment should take a deep breath before going into “the sky is falling!” mode. There is going to be plenty of students, but others demographic trends will be more problematic. The elderly population of Oklahoma will increase by 53% by 2030, meaning that there will be fierce competition for public funds between health care and education, young and old.

The people who will have to provide those public dollars in 2030 include the kids in the Oklahoma public school system now. When you look at NAEP, between 25% and 36% are at full grade level proficiency depending on subject/grade level.  Improving learning is not a task for 2030, but rather for right now. Oklahoma needs to improve K-12 outcomes as fast as possible, and needs to expand flexibility in the system in order to become both more effective and cost-effective in the future. The Oklahoma ESA legislation provides for eligible students with between funding 90 percent to 30 percent of the funds that would have gone to a participating child’s public school. If parents want to have a go at producing savings for the state treasury in return for the maximum possible flexibility in educational methods, it can be a mutually beneficial exchange that advantages everyone.

In addition to the possible benefits for Oklahoma students, the ESA concept itself would benefit by expanding the universe of people actively engaged in the model. We’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible here in Arizona. I am anxious to see the innovations that new teams people in other states develop-new methods to educate students, new ways to oversee accounts, etc.  I’m hoping that the next laboratory of reform fires up the beakers in 2014.

3 Responses to Oklahoma Lawmakers Introduce ESA legislation

  1. Christopher Vincent says:

    Hi, guys, this is interesting, I have another question for you: It seems that the school choice movement began primarily in urban areas. These seem like the most likely to benefit because they hold a larger number of students in a small geographical area, and some urban areas had challenges with very poor public education options. The large number of students in a small area seems to be key because it allows for a diversity of schools to function, really giving families a range of choices. Do you think this situation differs in rural areas? Obviously rural areas are not immune to poor schools, but they have a very low and often a decreasing student population density. How do you think this changes the equation?

    • Matthew Ladner says:

      I agree that generally speaking the kids doing the worse under the existing system have the most to gain from choice, also the most to gain from the mere possibility of being able to choose. Poor children attending dysfunctional urban schools would certainly be high up on the list.

      Rural areas have different challenges and fewer choice opportunities of some sorts (private and charter schools) but technology based learning could prove hugely beneficial to isolated communities.

  2. Home schooling has been legal in all 50 states in the United States, but laws and regulations under home schooling differ in every state. Yes, it has become legal but not all states consider home schooling as a private school. There are other states that consider home school as legal and Oklahoma is one of them. Oklahoma is a city that offers world class education that can be expected in all of their private schools. Their Department of Education has set a number of academic standards that would uplift the students’ education and prepare them to tackle college and the career of their choice. Parents are free to choose if they will enroll their children in a private school or in home schooling. They are not required to inform the state if they decide to go for home schooling for their children.

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