Arizona is home to the nation’s most innovative idea in education since the #2 pencil: education savings accounts. The only program of its kind in the country, the savings accounts are bank accounts that parents use to create the most effective education they can for their child.
The state Department of Education deposits 90 percent of a child’s share of student funding from the state formula into an account, and parents use a debit card or online services such as PayPal to purchase textbooks, online classes, or therapy services or pay private school or college tuition.
And the results are life-changing.
Two words, in particular, changed Amanda Howard’s life. For six long years, her son, Nathan, was virtually silent. Unable to speak and struggling with other developmental challenges, Nathan was diagnosed with autism. Amanda enrolled him in a developmental preschool, followed by one year in a large kindergarten class at a public school. Yet Amanda found herself still searching for something—anything—that would draw Nathan out of his shell.
Amanda and Nathan Howard
And then one day in 2011, after enrolling Nathan in a private school and hiring a specialized tutor with funds from his education savings account, Amanda watched Nathan point to a picture in a book and ask, “What’s that?” Now it was Amanda’s turn to be speechless.
The account enabled her to enroll Nathan in a school that specializes in helping students with autism. She noticed a difference immediately, but it wasn’t until he asked an otherwise unimportant question that she truly recognized the benefit of education savings accounts.
More than 200,000 Arizona students—nearly 1 in 5—are eligible for education savings accounts in the 2013-14 school year, including children with special needs, students in failing schools, children of military parents, and children adopted from the state’s foster care system. The application period ends May 1. Here’s hoping 200,000 lives are changed this year by the nation’s most exciting educational option.
National School Choice Week: Official Website