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Kathryn Hickok, Cascade Policy Institute

A RealClear Opinion poll released at the end of September revealed that parents with children in school increasingly—and overwhelmingly—favor the concept of school choice. More than 2,000 registered voters were asked this question:

“Recent federal legislation gave governors new funding they can use for K-12 education. Some governors have let families control the funds for the purchase of education technology and materials, private school tuition, and home education. Would you support or oppose your governor sending the funding directly to families and allowing them to choose how to use those funds to support their child’s education?”

Seventy-eight percent of public school parents and 79% of non-public school parents supported that statement.

As families today struggle with school situations that aren’t meeting their children’s learning needs, options have suddenly become necessary for many parents, especially low-income and single parents. If their zoned public schools aren’t working for their children or families, Oregon parents should get a kind of “money-back guarantee” that will enable them to make other arrangements. One simple way to do this would be an Education Savings Account program, like those already operating in other states. ESA programs give parents control of a portion of their state’s allocated education funding, which they can use to pay for out-of-pocket education expenses.
An ESA program would be a lifeline for Oregon families whose kids are not being served well by their zoned public schools. The purpose of education funding should be educating students, and all parents should be empowered to obtain a quality education for their kids.

Kathryn Hickok is Executive Vice President at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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