Students in Wyoming could be a small step closer to having more education options.
The state's Joint Education Committee has approved draft legislation that would create Education Savings Accounts, and one of the primary opponents last time around - House Speaker Albert Sommers - says he now supports the effort.
The Wyoming legislation would create $3,000 ESA's, but it would have income restrictions. Only families with a household income that is 250% of the poverty level (or lower) can participate. The draft also allows for the use of the ESA for preschool.
The legislation isn't nearly as strong as a previous version that actually passed the Wyoming Senate earlier this year but couldn't get past the Speaker. In fact, it has received the ire of at least one state Senator who has called it a "crap sandwich."
Still, it is a small step in the right direction.
Education Savings Accounts allow parents to use a portion of state funding on a variety of education services. Yes, it can include private school tuition, but it can also include tutoring, special needs services, curriculum, mental health treatment and much more - so long as it is for an educational purpose.
Most credible, major studies have concluded that educational outcomes improve when education choice is permitted - not only for students taking advantage of education choice, but also with those who did not.
"A review of the empirical research on private school choice finds evidence that private school choice delivers some benefits to participating students—particularly in the area of educational attainment—and tends to help, albeit to a limited degree, the achievement of students who remain in public schools."
-Peabody Journal of Education, Volume 91, Issue 4