The Buckeye Institute: Ohio Needs a Student-First Approach to Education Funding

Feb 18, 2021

Columbus, OH – On Wednesday, The Buckeye Institute released its newest policy brief, Fund Students First: Now is the Right Time for Education Savings Accounts, which outlines the benefits of empowering families—not just school districts—to educate their children.   

“With the General Assembly embarking on the biennial budget process, and leaders in both chambers acknowledging the need to reform school funding, now is the perfect time for Ohio to begin funding students first,” wrote Greg R. Lawson, a research fellow at The Buckeye Institute and author of Fund Students First. “Pursuing a student-first funding program—especially during the ongoing pandemic—will help Ohio better meet the needs of its students, its teachers, and its families.”

In the brief, Lawson outlines how Ohio can implement a student-first funding approach using education savings accounts, or ESAs, to close opportunity gaps and expand education markets. Lawson notes that “new technologies have created new academic and curricula opportunities...,” but unfortunately many students “continue to be left behind.” A student-first funding approach using ESAs will, “move beyond a one-size-fits-all education system and offer a more tailored approach” to education funding that can “help close some of the opportunity gaps and make the transition to new curricula easier and less expensive for families.” 

A student-first funding approach, Lawson explains, will also give families “greater financial flexibility to pay for educational products, services, and environments” that will “expand the market for such services and offer a more holistic approach to K-12 learning.” Lawson observes that “using financial mechanisms like ESAs to make more educational opportunities more affordable for more families” will “mak[e] for a deeper, broader education and learning market.” 

Lawson is an expert in effective education reform and, among other papers, is the author of Giving Families Certainty: Enhancing Education with Education Savings Accounts, School Choice Now Act: Meeting Students’ Needs In Uncertain Times, and Education Savings Accounts: Expanding Education Options for Ohio.

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