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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Education Savings Accounts

In The Politics of Autism, I write about special education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

At The Weekly Standard, Alexandra Hudson writes about Education Savings Accounts (ESAs):
In 2011, Arizona became the first state to adopt an ESA program. ESAs are government-funded accounts that allow families to spend money on their child's education wherever and however they choose. In a report I recently co-authored for the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, we survey ESA programs that currently exist in five states—each of which include autistic students among those eligible for ESA funds. In addition to unbundling educational services, Arizona's ESA program—and other programs like it—allows unused funds to roll over and be spent on future educational expenses, including college. With these features, ESAs have the potential to improve the safety and treatment that autistic children require for long term success.
Autistic children are three times more likely to be bullied in school and 28 times more likely to commit suicide than their non-autistic peers. This makes programs like ESAs in Arizona—which have helped many students like Kelden get the individualized attention they need—incredibly important. Parents know better than anyone else whether a public school environment is beneficial to their child. Giving parents the ability and and financial flexibility to choose other options if necessary may significantly increase the safety and wellbeing of autistic students.