May 13, 2016


(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

We had a wonkapolooza on ESAs at the American Enterprise Institute earlier this week! What- you had a friend in from out of town and couldn’t make it? Ah well not to worry the video is here:

On the first panel, our discussant MI’s Max Eden advised tapping on the expectations brakes, noting a number of practical difficulties. The biggest of these difficulties was summarized by Adam Peshek’s slide:

ESA expenses

So, yeah, this slide basically shows 70,000 ish Florida tax credit students using approximately 1,500 vendors (private schools). Meanwhile the Gardnier Scholarships programs had south of 1,600 students, but those 1,600 students made **ahem** almost 11,500 purchases.  A new set of practices and techniques will be necessary to administer such a system.

Fortunately we have practices from other policy areas to draw upon and companies highly adept at account management and oversight from Health Savings Accounts and others. It’s going to take time. In the paper and presentation I referenced the Greek myth regarding the birth of Athena- who sprung from the skull of Zeus not only fully grown, beautiful and powerful but also clothed and even armed for battle!

Alas outside the realm of myth we have little choice but to engage teams of people to grind on problems over time, as ESAs did not emerge fully formed from the mind of some mighty being as a finished product. Evolutionary improvement and innovation may not make for as good of a story as the goddess of wisdom springing forth, but for us mere mortals it will have to do. I’m anxious to see what happens next.

Anyway- great event and thanks especially to our friends at AEI for hosting it. Also make sure to see Anna Egalite’s guest blogging on RHSU on ESAs and also Jonathan Butcher’s new report on mobile payment systems and ESAs for the Goldwater Institute. Also Heritage President Jim DeMint tells a Texas suffering from parental choice dehydration to jump on in, the school choice water is fine!



Response to Charter Competition

August 6, 2013

Check out the new article in Education Next by my current and former students, Marc Holley, Anna Egalite, and Marty Lueken on how traditional public school systems respond to competition from charters.  Using an innovative technique they gauge the types of responses exhibited by a dozen school districts.  While traditional districts engage in some non-constructive reactions, like focusing on blocking or regulating charters to minimize the competitive threat, overall they find districts rising to the challenge in positive ways.  In particular they are finding that districts often respond to charter competition by  replicating charter practices, collaborating with charters, developing innovative schools and programs, and expanding school offerings.

Of course, this analysis does not demonstrate that these positive reactions are resulting in improved student outcomes.  But responding positively is the first step that we hope will lead to better outcomes.  It is certainly a big change from earlier analyses that found districts focused almost exclusively on fighting and blocking charters.  It appears school districts have come to realize that charter competition is here to stay and it is best to try to rise to the challenge rather than squash the competition.

%d bloggers like this: