Kids and families netted enormous education wins in 2022 — signaling a hunger for policies that buck the status quo and laying a strong foundation heading into 2023 legislative sessions. These wins should not come as a surprise: After two years of pandemic-related shutdowns and devastating declines in learning, families are eager for solutions that move education forward and get their kids the help they need.
yes. every kid. (Yes) engaged in over 20 states during 2022 legislative sessions, focusing on encouraging innovation in our education system and empowering families with direct access to educational resources.
What were some highlights in education this past year? Here are our top 5 policy wins:
- Arizona: Arizona’s legislature passed the most expansive Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) in the country, making ESAs available to any family seeking better educational options. Over $6,500 per student per year will be available to the families of over 1.1 million students.
Arizona’s ESA program has been around for over a decade, but only to a limited number of students. With this expansion, Arizona made resources available to every family, regardless of background or income. The result? Families and educators are able to create the educational experience that’s best for their child.
- Idaho: The desire for the Empowering Parents microgrant program was undeniable. Passed with broad bipartisan support and signed into law by Gov. Brad Little, the $50 million program was inspired by the popularity of the state’s 2020 Strong Students, Strong Families program, which over 80,000 Idaho students expressed interest in.
Empowering Parents provides $1,000 per student to help cover the costs of education expenses, including technology and tutoring. The program — which prioritizes parents making $60,000 or less — will help support 40,000 families.
- Kansas: In a transformative policy win with bipartisan support, students in Kansas will be able to attend any public school and access courses at any public school starting in 2024. For years, school district lines in Kansas denied families opportunities because they could afford to live in certain neighborhoods, which too often determined their child’s school quality. This policy fights back, expanding access to high-quality schools by allowing Kansas’ half a million students to attend any school, regardless of their zip code or their family’s income.
- Missouri: Missouri enacted the Close the Gap Program, which allows 30,000 students access to $1,500 grants to help cover the cost of tutoring and other educational resources. This forward-thinking program funds families directly as they pursue what’s best for their child in the wake of the pandemic — allowing them to problem-solve without political barriers standing in their way.
- Virginia: Fourth graders in Virginia suffered the largest declines since 2017 in math and reading in the nation on the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress, underscoring an urgent need for change. Gov. Glenn Youngkin recently announced K-12 learning recovery grants, a $30 million investment in families rather than a one-size-fits-all program. The grants allow families to access direct resources to best meet the unique needs of their child and combat the dire declines in learning facing Virginians.
These are massive wins for kids and their families. Parents agree that it is time for education in our nation to move forward. These wins not only make learning more innovative but shift power into the hands of families. But, as is expected with outdated systems, stubborn barriers remain.
Heading into 2023, Yes is focusing on building on this year’s successes, including eliminating the assignment of a public school based on neighborhood families can afford.