by Dr. Terry Stoops
Former Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Jonathan Butcher, the Will Skillman Fellow in Education at The Heritage Foundation, authored a new report about North Carolina’s education savings account (ESA) program for special needs children.
In “A Culture of Personalized Learning North Carolina’s Personal Education Savings Accounts,” Butcher finds that two-thirds of North Carolina families are using their ESA dollars to make multiple purchases of qualified education expenses. He concludes,
North Carolina Personal Education Savings Accounts allow account holders to pay for multiple products and services simultaneously and for parents to customize their child’s K-12 education. The accounts are similar to the savings account systems in Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee, but the spending patterns in the first two years of North Carolina’s program showed significantly more customization among its participants than seen in the first two years of Arizona and Florida’s programs.
This is great news. The intent of the special needs ESA program is to encourage parents to use education savings account dollars to customize the education of their children. The fact that so many are doing so means that the program is functioning as intended.