Foundational Choices: Education Scholarship Accounts in the midst of the fight between public and charter schools.


Though our rights, endowed by our creator as well as the rights of the constitution, have a lot of our freedoms laid out, there are a few parts where the beautiful document lacks. A powerhouse of this oppressive opponent we face is taxation. Though a lot of it is justified; the roads we use, the FDA regulating the sale of snake oil, and enabling law enforcement to combat crimes such as drug trafficking across our vast borders. Though a pain, they are generally there to ensure the smooth operation of locality, city, and state. But with this being said, there are some areas we ought to retain our decisions over, a choice that holds the nation’s future, this being our children.

Though we decide what they can and cannot eat, when their bedtimes are, and the content we allow them to view, they are not always under our watchful eyes. This comes into play with schooling, a place where a young person’s bedrock is formed, a place where they spend around 1,000 hours a year without their parent’s approval on what they can and cannot learn 1.

With the narrative revolving around education nowadays, there are three possible options portrayed, these being either public, charter, or private schools. But there is one option that has been picking up traction in recent years, these being Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs), so far being legalized in 5 states thus far, these being Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, and both of the Carolinas 2.

Though it is a divergent option from the narrative we have seen today, it is important to look at what an ESA is. Though the specific nature of the bills varies by state, an ESA is generally a state-funded and state-supervised spending account that allows parents to use state money to pay for a variety of educational services. This can include anything from special therapies and educational services, private tutoring, and even savings for further K-12 or college expenses 2.

Though this may sound great, like all ideas revolving around state and government oversight, an important question comes to mind. How are states supposed to fund these helpful yet ambitious projects? According to HB 3681 of South Carolina, “each eligible student who participates in the program must be counted in the enrollment figures for the district in which the student resides and is zoned to attend” 3.

To break this down, this would mean that each school zone would be responsible for this funding, putting the choice in the hands of communities. Here, the amount of school funding spent on these as well as the schools in the area would be decided by the school boards and the local citizens that make up the zone. Though this seems radically free-market, this would allow the tax-payers of school zones to decide how and where they could use their hard-earned tax money while financially giving back to their communities through the aforementioned educational services approved by the state.

Though at the current moment a majority of the ESA bills only cover funding toward citizens that have special needs, there is a growing movement to expand the empowering and innovative rulings of Education Scholarship Accounts to the rest of the population. Though we may not have control of a lot of facets found in our society, the way in which we educate our children with our hard-earned tax dollars ought to be one!

1: Camp, Jeff. “4.3 School Hours: Is There Enough Time To Learn?” ED100, Ed100, 6 November 2021, https://ed100.org/lessons/schoolhours. Accessed 26 January 2022.
2: Hoffman, Nathan, and Kayla Ward. “Education Scholarship Accounts.” ExcelinEd, 20 April 2021, https://www.excelined.org/opportunity/education-scholarship-accounts/. Accessed 26 January 2022.
3: South Carolina General Assembly. Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Account Act: South Carolina General Assembly. 22 January 2019, Columbia, South Carolina, https://scstatehouse.gov/sess123_2019-2020/bills/3681.htm. Accessed 26 January 2022.

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Of the following two issues related to Rhode Island’s public schools, which one is a greater concern?

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