New Hampshire families want their children to thrive. That means flexibility and meaningful educational choice for families seeking an appropriate and stable educational environment to meet a child’s needs. Supporting that policy has always been part of Cornerstone’s mission.
The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on our children’s education has been more far-reaching than anyone could have predicted when 2020 began. More clearly than ever, we can see that children thrive when their educational environment is responsive to them, not the other way around.
Fortunately, forward-thinking legislators are paying attention. In 2021, the New Hampshire House and Senate will have a chance to offer parents a new tool: education freedom accounts. Multiple sponsors are ready to bring the necessary legislation forward.
What’s new about education freedom accounts? For eligible students, public education funding would give families a multi-use education grant. A family could apply for a grant, based on the state’s per-pupil rate for an adequate education, which could be used for a child’s educational expenses at the school or program of the family’s choice. Those expenses might even include things like internet connections, computer hardware, and educational software, all of which have become critical in this age of virtual learning.
Where conventional public education is serving a student well, the family will be happy to send their child to a district’s schools. But what about a child who needs another way of learning? What if needs change over time? With an education freedom account, a family will have more flexibility in finding the right place.
An EFA program would require cooperation between the state and an agency to administer the grants. It would require carefully-drafted legislation. But most of all, EFAs require a commitment to putting children first in any discussion of education.
When you put a child’s needs first, education choice for families makes perfect sense.
We look forward to the introduction of ESA legislation. Let the discussion begin.