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Washington joins Idaho, Wyoming in considering education choice

Updated: Jul 21

Washington state is getting in on the national movement for Education Choice. Just as Idaho and Wyoming advance bills on ESA, the Evergreen State is considering a program of its own.

HB 1615 in Washington state is the “Students First Program.” It would create an Education Savings Account in Washington that would give priority to students with special ed services, those who are low income, and students in failing schools.

The funds would be available via a debit card managed by the state. It is estimated that the original amounts will total roughly $10,600 for all students participating, with another $10,000 available to special ed students.

Parents could use the ESA for tutoring, private school tuition, therapies and services, computer hardware and much more.

The program is somewhat limited – as only 91,400 students could participate. And parents must agree to spend the money properly. By agreeing to take the funds, parents and private institutions would not be subject to changing their admission policies, creed or any other practices.

As we have previously shown, Education Choice options can dramatically improve outcomes for not only students who take advantage of the program, but students who remain in a typical public school setting as well.

Unfortunately, Washington state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction has said he will fight any ESA-type options from being advanced this session.

A hearing on the bill is scheduled for Thursday.

Information on the Idaho and Wyoming bills is available here. The Idaho legislation is being introduced in a committee hearing this afternoon.

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