Instead of improved quality and decreased spending on education, the government continues to spend more and more while results remain stagnant.
“According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress – a standardized test often referred to as the nation’s ‘report card’ – just 26 percent of the country’s 12th graders are proficient in math,” Lindsay Burke of the Heritage Foundation points out, adding that, “only 38 percent are proficient in reading. “
“Those numbers are entirely unchanged since 2009, when the NAEP was last administered,” reported Burke. Education has been stuck in the same place for decades and it is still ruled by the monopoly of mediocre public schools and controlled by hundreds of federal growth projects, some of which have surfaced and resurfaced since Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency (See Elementary and Secondary Education Act, No Child Left Behind Act, Common Core State Standards Initiative).
At Heritage Foundation’s Blogger’s Briefing on June 17, 2014, Burke highlighted the efforts of specific states to break out of the stagnant education norms and support school choice. She spoke about the nation’s first education savings account program which was signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. These are parent-controlled savings accounts that allow for children’s educational experiences to be customized according to the needs of families and children.
Ninety percent of the funding that the state would have spent on any child in public school is given—through a restricted-use debit card—to parents who can pay for private school tuition, books, special education services, or anything else that is related to education, including college savings funds. The funds can be rolled over and tailored to the specific needs of the children. Because of this new freedom given to parents, providers are pressured to provide quality products at lower prices. Although ESA’s were originally available only to children with special needs, children of military families, children of fallen soldiers, foster children and low-income families assigned to underperforming public schools have been included in the program, and parents report positive results.
Burke added, “The Florida legislature passed legislation to create the Florida Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts—the Sunshine State’s version of ESAs. Florida would become the second state to embrace the most innovative option to date in school choice.”
Burke has spoken on education reform issues focusing on the reduction of the federal role in education and empowering families with school choice across the country and internationally and she has an extensive collection of research and other education articles that can be found at www.heritage.org/about/staff/b/Lindsey-burke.