Catch-UP ESAs Give Students Immediate Support

Instead of families being forced to consider spending their own money to augment their children’s schooling, (or not being able to afford at anything at all) programs like after-school enrichment classes, online classes, or private-tutoring could become immediately within reach if our state would adopt an innovative new program called Catch-up Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs).

This would greatly benefit students who may have lost ground by not being able to attend in-person classes this past spring. With the goal of obtaining immediate educational support for students who may have fallen behind after schools were shut down this past spring, this innovative policy idea would tap unspent federal funds to empower parents to customize supplemental programs for their children.

The Catch-up ESA concept was publicly supported by my friend Ray Rickman on a recently taped episode of In The Dugout, especially if it can be targeted to low and moderate income families. Rickman heads Stages of Freedom, a nonprofit that works with hundreds of minority families. The full episode will be out early this week.

These one-time Catch-Up ESAs, available to all qualified students in the state, would also immediately fill major gaps in the five-year Providence schools reform plan, by addressing current student needs. The program would be funded by unspent federal CARES Act funds. The full policy brief can be viewed here.

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