School Choice Provides Flexible Options That Fit Students’ Unique Needs, Beacon Center Says at Jackson Event

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The Beacon Center on Monday hosted a meeting on school choice issues in the upcoming legislative session for 2019.

Taylor Dawson, outreach coordinator for the Beacon Center, spoke about the organization’s legislative goals regarding school choice and the ways in which volunteers can help. The meeting was held at Brooks Shaw’s Old Country Store in Jackson.

Beacon’s Justin Owen, president and CEO, also wrote in the Jackson Sun, “Parents should decide the best educational environment for their child. This National School Choice Week, we should remember how educational choice works to empower parents to customize their child’s education that fits his or her unique needs.”

In the op-ed, Owens touts the benefits of Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs), which the General Assembly authorized in 2015 for parents of children with special needs.

According to a Beacon special report, summarized here, ESAs “provide families a more flexible option than traditional voucher programs. ESA funds can be used to create a truly customized education experience including tutoring, speech and other education therapy, private school tuition, homeschool curriculum and supplies, education technology, and even help save for college.”

Beacon’s two-part series is titled, “Counting Dollars and Cents: The Economic Impact of a Statewide Education Savings Account Program in Tennessee.”

From a statewide ESA program, Tennessee could expect:

  • An increase in the number of high school graduates in the state by 13,480, leading to $2.9 billion in economic benefits by 2038;
  • An increase in overall personal income in the state by $683 million by 2038; and
  • Reduce the number of felons in the state by 15,451 and the number of misdemeanants by 21,380, producing societal benefits of $685 million by 2038.

Beacon’s full report is available here.

National School Choice Week is Jan. 20-26, 2019. More information is available here. The week encompasses a series of events around the nation to celebrate and inform about education options.

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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.
Photo “School Choice” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.

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