.New School—Students Deserve a Choice

By any metric, our public education system is failing too many kids.

Back in 2019, the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that only 32% of California’s public-school fourth graders were “proficient” readers. Overall, according to the California Reading Coalition, currently more than half the children enrolled in schools in over 300 public school districts can’t read at grade level. Parents have a legitimate fear that their children aren’t being adequately educated by the public K-12 system.

The Educational Freedom Act is designed to give parents and kids the freedom to choose a better alternative without costing Californians more money. The state is spending an average of $21,152 per year for every child enrolled in the public K-12 school system.

Currently California public schools are funded through a combination of bonds, parcel taxes, donations, Federal Funds and Prop. 98 funding. The Educational Freedom Act is designed to permit a portion of the Prop. 98 funding to follow the child to any accredited school in the state of California. 

The Act treats all K-12 California students equally. An Educational Savings Account (“ESA”) will be established for each K-12 child in California on request. Each ESA will receive $14,000.00 per year. ESA funds can be used to pay for tuition at any accredited public, private or parochial school. Any unspent funds will accrue in a low-risk portfolio. Parents would never have direct access to the money. However, homeschool students can also enroll in an ESA and use ESA funds to pay for qualified educational expenses if they enroll in an accredited private school independent study program. Because funds can accrue, families would be able to save the extra money in their accounts for students to use at an accredited college or vocational school up until the student turns 30.

The Educational Freedom Act has the potential to offer practical, workable educational options to millions of California kids. We have some money, we’ve had a few generous donations, but inherently this is a grassroots effort. We’re in this for the kids. We believe California kids and families deserve school choice.

Sarah Nagle is the senior advisor for Californians for School Choice and lives in Marin County.
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