The Education Toolkit

chapter 02: yes. opportunity.


Each child is different, and all children deserve a menu of options—programs, services, courses, and schools that are designed to address their interests and aptitudes. The goal is not to standardize children: it is to allow every kid to discover, develop, and apply their talents to realize their full potential.



A quick users guide to the toolkit.

yes. framework.

Good policy framework.

yes. opportunity.

Learning opportunities for families.

yes. students.

Student-centered education.

yes. funding.

Modern education funding.

yes. preparation.

Preparing students for life.

Learn Everywhere

Provide credit for learning, wherever it occurs.

We know that students can learn through a diversity of approaches and from a variety of experiences.

Children learn through a diversity of approaches and from a variety of experiences; this includes learning in a traditional classroom and experiences far beyond the walls of a traditional school.

Learn Everywhere policies create a path for students to earn course credits for these out-of-classroom learning opportunities. Through partnerships with nonprofits, businesses, trade associations, educators, and other community organizations, students are able to receive district- and college-recognized credit for approved programs at participating providers. For instance, students could receive credit for performing in a play at a local playhouse, participating in a robotics club, completing one of the many programs offered through a Boys & Girls Club, and many other educational opportunities provided in the community.

Open Enrollment

Allow families to attend the public school of their choice.

Open enrollment policies allow students to attend the public school of their choice, regardless of attendance boundaries—including transfers within and outside of school district boundaries.

Open enrollment policies allow students to attend the public school of their choice, regardless of attendance boundaries. 

Public school open enrollment has existed in many forms. However, too often those designs leave the choice of whether a student can attend a different school to administrators and not to parents, even when a school has plenty of empty seats.

Instead of leaving options open to only the well-connected or based on the whims of school administrators, yes. every kid. supports open enrollment policies that allow families to enroll children in the public school of their choice.

Course Access

The freedom to enroll in a variety of courses, inside and outside of a child's school.

In the same way that open enrollment policies allow students to enroll in schools other than those they are zoned to attend, course access policies allow students to enroll in courses other than those offered at their enrolled school. These courses can be offered online or in-person and, importantly, the child’s prorated or per-course funding follows them to the provider offering the course.

Course Access, also known as course choice, allows for families and students to select a variety of courses beyond what their school and school districts normally offer.

Design elements of a course choice program may include cataloging approved courses and providers in a common repository, establishing the rules by which students can enroll in courses, and facilitating funding flows, among others. Courses and providers should be able to be approved by the state, districts, higher education, or some combination of all of these and more (with reciprocity granted so all options are available to all students regardless of their home location).

Education Scholarship Accounts

Funded accounts that can be used for a variety of educational uses.

Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) combine education opportunity and student-centered funding to enable families to create a truly customized education around their individual needs.

Instead of sending money to a predetermined school, ESAs are funded using a child’s share of education funding and can be directed to the schools, courses, programs, and services of a family’s choice. Often, unused dollars can be saved for future K-12 and post-secondary expenses. In many ways, ESAs are a form of school finance reform, providing funding portability to families for a variety of individualized uses.

Charter Schools

Public schools of choice, with the autonomy to create unique learning environments.

Charter school laws—which exist in nearly every state—were originally envisioned as a way to provide educators with the autonomy needed to create wholly autonomous and innovative alternatives. Autonomies around curriculum, instruction, finance, personnel, and the school day are necessary to allow educators to create school environments that meet the needs of each unique community.

Over time, charter laws have been weighed down by onerous requirements that do little more than stifle innovation in the name of uniformity and sameness. yes. every kid. supports policies that preserve the original intent of charter schools: to ensure that innovative educators have the ability to create new, innovative, and sometimes untested education models in a continuous effort to learn and improve.

Private education choice should be universal, stable, and customizable

Policies that enable families to purchase a private education are an important part of moving toward an innovative, student-centered system of education. Historically, such policies have come in three main forms: education scholarship accounts (ESAs), tax-credit scholarships, and vouchers. While each type of policy has its pros and cons, yes. every kid. believes that any program should allow for three important factors:

1. Universal eligibility. Policy should respect the dignity of every person and be applied equally.  Likewise, education funding should follow all students equitably to their preferred educational path.  Because universal programs are open to all people, they are far more popular, maintain broad public support, and are sustainable over the long run. Funding for nearly every type of education option allows students of all economic background to participate—except the majority of private education choice programs. No one is suggesting that we should only provide public funding for certain families who choose to send their child to a district, charter, or magnet school. Yet, when it comes to families choosing a private K-12 education, many believe that public support should only be available for children from specific economic backgrounds or geographic locations. yes. every kid. believes that every kid should have access to programs that enable families to choose an education that works for them.

2. Funding stability. To ensure every family is afforded the ability to receive an education in the environment of their choice, the funding must be there to enable that choice. That is why most of the time, funding mechanisms that are automatic and not subject to annual political fights are preferable. Thus, formula-funded programs that simply require lawmakers to fund enrollment counts are vastly superior to programs that rely on politically influenced annual appropriations or tax-credit programs that rely on a base of funding that can never scale to serve every student.

3. Customization. Many children are well-served in education environments that take place within the confines of one school building. But in a world that is increasingly encountering an unbundling of services, this should not be the only option. Ideal programs allow educators to provide a variety of services that families can customize to meet their needs. Thus, ESA programs are preferred over models that merely let families choose among whole-school options.