In 2023, Arkansas passed the LEARNS Act, a comprehensive and transformational education plan to empower parents with more education options while also strengthening public schools. The Arkansas model has been held up as a model Mississippi could emulate in 2024.
The LEARNS Act incorporates a number of key provisions on which Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders campaigned: empowering parents with educational freedom, improving the education workforce, investing in student outcomes in key subject areas, enhancing career readiness, and more.
Below, we take a look at some of the key components of the LEARNS Act, specifically those that promote parent choice, and consider how they could be applied in Mississippi.
Education Freedom Accounts
First, the LEARNS Act created a new education savings account (ESA) program called Education Freedom Accounts. Education Freedom Accounts offer parents the flexibility to customize their child’s education and select the best education opportunities for them.
This is how it works.
Families are eligible for an Education Freedom Account for each student. Each year that a student is eligible, the state deposits 90% of the prior year’s average net public school aid per student. In other words, the state takes 90% of what it otherwise would have sent to the local district for that child’s education (around $6,700 per year) and deposits it into an account that parents may use on qualified education expenses, such as private school tuition, school supplies, tutoring services, transportation costs, and other approved expenses.
The program is phased in over 3 years. In the first year of the program, no more than 1.5 percent of the state’s public school population may participate, and the only students who qualify are students who are disabled, homeless, current or former foster children, eligible to participate in the Succeed Scholarship program, children of active duty military personnel, attend an F-rated public school, or are enrolling in kindergarten for the first time.
Year 2 expands the program to include students in D-rated public schools and children whose parents are veterans,
Read original article by clicking here.