Senate Education Committee approves groundbreaking proposal to close achievement gap

The Senate Education Finance and Policy Committee on Monday approved a groundbreaking bill to create Education Savings Accounts (ESA) in Minnesota, which will empower parents with more flexibility and control over their child’s education. 

With Education Savings Accounts, state K-12 funding follows the child. If a parent chooses to withdraw their child from public school, the state would deposit that child’s state education assistance into a restricted, government-authorized savings account. The account can be used for tuition and fees at a different school, tutoring, online learning, educational therapies or mental health treatment, postsecondary costs, or other education expenses.

“Parents want self-determination, choice, and control of their child’s education,” said Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes), the author of the bill and chair of the education committee. “‘Choice’ is the number one request I receive from parents, especially from communities of color. Education Savings Accounts put parents in control and give every student the opportunity to flourish.”

The committee featured compelling testimony from a number of parents from all walks of life, including Virginia Walden Ford, a pioneering advocate for parent empowerment in education. Ms. Walden Ford grew up in Arkansas, and was among the first African-Americans to integrate into Little Rock schools in the 1960s. Later, as a single parent in Washington D.C., she became frustrated that students were being forced to attend crumbling and failing public schools, so she organized other parents and led the successful drive to create opportunity scholarships for disadvantaged students.

Ms. Walden Ford testified to the obstacles she faced trying to get her youngest son into a school that fit his needs better than his district school. Her efforts set in motion a complete overhaul of the D.C. education system, with a stunning success rate.

WATCH the committee hearing on Education Savings Accounts.