Brandon Dutcher | February 12, 2014
Oklahoma considers Education Savings Accounts
Two state lawmakers have introduced legislation which would create an Education Savings Account (ESA) program in Oklahoma. An ESA allows parents to take their child out of a public school and bank a portion of the child’s per-pupil funding. They can then use the money to pay for private school tuition, online learning, private tutoring, or a customized mix of options. A portion of the money could even be saved for future college expenses.
Arizona was the first state to establish an ESA program, and the Heartland Institute says Oklahoma may become the second. The news report from Oklahoma City’s NBC affiliate on the ESA rollout is here, and the report from the CBS affiliate is here. In addition, Michael Carnuccio and Robert Enlow make the case for ESAs in the Tulsa World.
A new statewide public-opinion survey released by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and OCPA finds that 56 percent of Oklahoma’s registered voters favor ESAs, while 34 percent oppose. Among Oklahomans who currently have children in school, the margin is even wider: 63 percent to 31 percent. Carnuccio has more details in this Journal Record column. Not surprisingly, conservatives are cheering the Oklahoma ESA news — “GREAT NEWS,” Grover Norquist proclaimed on Twitter — but the Friedman/OCPA survey finds that Democratic voters also support the idea (50 percent to 39 percent). As well they should: Patrick McGuigan reports that ESAs would result in more positive tomorrows for the Oklahoma youngsters who need them most.
In any case, the ESA proposal “will receive more vetting in the weeks and months to come,” The Oklahoman has correctly noted. “We look forward to the debate.”
And as the years pass, whether we’re discussing ESAs, vouchers, tax credits, or a menu featuring all of those options and more, let us recall the words of OCPA’s Milton Friedman Distinguished Fellow: “the establishment of universal school choice should be our highest policy priority.”
Senior Vice President
Brandon Dutcher is OCPA’s senior vice president. Originally an OCPA board member, he joined the staff in 1995. Dutcher received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oklahoma. He received a master’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public policy from Regent University. Dutcher is listed in the Heritage Foundation Guide to Public Policy Experts, and is editor of the book Oklahoma Policy Blueprint, which was praised by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman as “thorough, well-informed, and highly sophisticated.” His award-winning articles have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, WORLD magazine, Forbes.com, Mises.org, The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, and 200 newspapers throughout Oklahoma and the U.S. He and his wife, Susie, have six children and live in Edmond.