ESAs, as they are known, empower parents to make the best choice for their children’s education. It gives parents some of the public funds that the state often misuses in each child’s public education, allowing parents to use it for educational purposes in the best way they see fit. For example, parents can use it to cover private school tuition or online learning programs. Funds can be used for private tutoring, homeschooling, or other educational materials. The possibilities are endless. The choice is in the hands of the persons most interested in the child’s success: the parents. This is good. Parents need school choice.
Contrary to what you will hear from some detractors, ESAs do not destroy public schools. Parents who feel their public school is working need not change. They need not apply to receive the money and can continue as they have before. But the reality for millions of American children is that their public school system is failing them, and they are stuck in that failing school or system because of how the law has been set up.
Recent national exam results revealed “the steepest declines ever recorded on National Assessment of Educational Progress” in math proficiency. Just 26% of eighth graders were proficient! Fourth graders did not fare much better, just 36% were deemed proficient. Reading scores also declined. Only about one in three students met the proficiency standards.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona called these results “appalling and unacceptable.” But Secretary Cardona and the overwhelming majority of the Democrats’ leadership oppose school choice. Their solution is to pump more money into failing schools while ignoring their pathetic record.
I hope the pandemic has opened the eyes of many Americans to the toxic environment that drives educational policy nationwide. Virtually every educational bureaucracy, pressured by influential teachers’ unions, forced the unscientific and irrational policy of prolonged school closures, not to mention the cruel and unnecessary forced masking policies on young children.
It was simply amazing to read in the pages of The New York Times just this week (almost four years after the start of the pandemic!), “The Mask Mandates Did Nothing. Will Any Lessons Be Learned?” The article highlighted the “most rigorous and comprehensive analysis of scientific studies conducted on the efficacy of masks for reducing the spread of respiratory illness—including Covid-19.” The lead author of the study, Oxford epidemiologist Tom Jefferson, was quoted saying there is no evidence that masks make any difference, “Full stop.”
Yes, after all they put us through— after all they put our children through. They knew it was all for nothing. It was a show. This is infuriating, especially when it comes to children, because although the masks did nothing to “stop the spread” (not in two weeks, two months, or more than two years), they did do something in terms of harming our children’s educational, linguistic, social, and emotional development. Our children have paid the price of their incompetence.
That is a big reason you are hearing and will continue to hear more about ESAs being passed in different states. We should support them in every state.
As of now, I believe there is a version of them (in varying degrees) in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. Let us pray for many more in the coming years.