WASHINGTON (Nov. 20, 2019) – Education and school choice have received considerable attention from the 2020 presidential candidates. Elizabeth Warren has campaigned on preventing funds from being “diverted” from public schools by school choice measures such as vouchers. Additionally, teachers’ union strikes have renewed discussions about efforts on the left to thwart school choice.

In the third installation in a series on civil society, Lindsey M. Burke, director of the Center for Education Policy and Will Skillman fellow in education at The Heritage Foundation, reminds us that choice and customization—and student-centered policies—driven by mechanisms such as education savings accounts (ESAs) are the future, and that the monopolistic vision of education among those who oppose choice is an anachronism in 21st century America.

She focuses her discussion on Arizona, which has experienced some of the most robust education improvements in the country over the past decade, correlating with the state’s open education choice environment.

She argues that by freeing-up education resources and providing public education funds directly to families through education savings accounts, the state has catalyzed civil society in education through new private school start-ups and campus expansions, which are now meeting the needs of Arizona students.

She finds that current caps on ESA eligibility, which limit student participation, dampen what could be a much more robust supply-side response, as restricting eligibility to small, discrete classes of students—when those students are spread across the state—limits provider response, since demand is dispersed across a large geographic area.

She concludes that, “Arizona’s ESA program has not only catalyzed a robust civil society response in the Grand Canyon State, it has ignited an entirely new method of designing education choice programs.”

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