The REAL Difference Between Vouchers and ESAs

Contrary to what the teachers’ unions and others who are scared to death of losing their political clout, ESAs are NOT vouchers.  They are the best way to give parents — the people who should be directing the education of their children — the most control over that education.  Please read the excellent analysis below.

Quoted from “…a Phoenix group is working to get a measure on this November’s ballot that, if approved by voters, would kill recently enacted legislation supported by Gov. Doug Ducey (R) that would bring about “private school voucher expansion.” According to the report, Ducey’s law will give Arizona “one of the broadest voucher programs in the nation.”

“The problem with that story is the program discussed has nothing to do with vouchers; it is a law that expands the availability of education savings accounts (ESAs).

“For clarification, here is brief primer paraphrasing an excellent up-to-date guide on the subject, “The ABCs of School Choice” (2017 edition), available for free at A voucher is a piece of paper parents can present to a participating private school, religious or non-religious, to pay partial or full tuition for their child with the aid of public funding. An ESA is a publicly funded account from which parents can draw (typically using a debit card) to pay for a variety of educational expenses for their child.

“The difference is much more profound than paper or plastic. A voucher provides entrée to a private school. That’s it. By contrast, the ESA empowers parents to use a significant portion (usually 90 percent) of their child’s per-pupil share of state funding to select from a wide range of permitted educational services—not just tuition, but the likes of online instruction, therapies, community college classes, tutoring, dual enrollment, and other state-approved customized services.

“In short, vouchers are about selection of a school, and ESAs are designed to provide educational choice in full measure. They have the potential to revolutionize education by putting parents completely in charge. That no doubt terrifies the teachers unions and other entrenched special interests within the education establishment. Currently, only about 11,000 children nationally are able to benefit from ESAs, but the number of states setting up such programs (five since 2011, with numerous others under legislative consideration) is growing.”

“….Sure enough, in a 2013 decision (Niehaus v. Huppenthal) the state Supreme Court let stand, an appellate court held that an ESA is not impermissibly aiding private or sectarian schools because “none of the ESA funds were pre-ordained for a particular destination.”

From Who’s Afraid of the Demonized ‘V-Word’ in Education?
by Robert Holland |Posted: May 30, 2017 11:55 AM

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