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Empowerment Scholarship Account may be what Nebraska needs

Individualized learning
Individualized learning
Photo by Brad Barket

Despite decades of student learning failure, Nebraska has had a variety of school choice bills drafted and then die. The good news is that Nebraska may have just been waiting for the right combination of school choice options to prove successful. Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) is a student-learning-and-achievement dream come true.

With an ESA, parents/guardians receive a debit card with 90% of the same funds districts use to educate a child in public school and thus have complete control over their child’s education. Arizona’s ESA offers a wide variety of options for students and their parents including:

  • Tuition, fees and/or required textbooks at a qualified school
  • Tutoring services
  • Curriculum
  • Tuition and/or fees for a private online learning program
  • Fees for nationally standardized norm-referenced achievement tests

Eligible children under the Arizona law include:

  • A Child with a Disability
  • Currently attending an underperforming school
  • An active duty parent
  • In Foster Care

(Empowerment Scholarship Account Handbook, Arizona Department of Education 4/21/14)

Parents/guardians have control over, and are legally responsible for, their child’s education. Students and their parents/guardians are the consumers of education. As such, they should make decisions for those services in their student’s best interest. As it stands in Nebraska, students and their parents must conform to the system, despite student learning failure.

This is where the rubber meets the road. What is the education goal for Nebraska children? Is it student learning outcomes or jobs, dues and pensions? At present, only about a third of Nebraska students are proficient readers.

Ask your Nebraska Legislator to sponsor or draft a Nebraska version of the Empowerment Scholarship Account for our children. Today!

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