Movement to ‘Fund Students Instead of Systems’ Hits 21 States

West Virginia legislators have introduced a bill to secure direct funding to students through Education Savings Accounts (ESA).

Education Savings Accounts allow parents to use money set aside for their child on many different possible approved K-12 expenses, including private school tuition, technology, home tutoring, and online schools.

Garrett Ballengee, executive director of the Cardinal Institute, said:

“Empowered with ESAs, thousands of families in West Virginia could — for the first time in West Virginia’s history — have the ability to create an education that will help each child realize his or her potential, regardless of the family’s income or ZIP code.”

The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy said such a plan would “transfer taxpayer dollars away from our state’s public schools.” But Corey A. DeAngelis, director of School Choice at the Reason Foundation, pushed back at that notion. “Allowing families to choose their grocery store doesn’t take money away from Safeway. Allowing families to choose their school doesn’t take money away from public schools,” he said.

West Virginia has a Republican governor and Republicans supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature, giving this legislation a good chance of becoming law.

This bill joins other active legislative efforts across the country, making West Virginia the 21st state to consider restructuring some educational funding to prioritize students instead of systems.

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