2023 has been the most successful year for the education freedom movement in the last fifty years combined. Nationally, 1 in 5 students now enjoy unprecedented agency over their education. That’s due to the passage of 22 bills in 18 states that empowered families with the freedom to pursue the education that they believe works best for their kids. Iowa kicked off the year by being the first state to pass universal educational choice in 2023, and seven other states followed suit.
More than nine million students across Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah now have direct access to over $49 billion in potential funding they can use for more learning options.
Many states passed universal education savings accounts (ESAs) or voucher programs this year. Oklahoma passed a universal individual refundable tax credit. It is the largest and most expansive tax credit program to date.
Notably, students in Arkansas, Idaho, North Dakota, and West Virginia now have expanded options to attend the public school that best fits their needs, regardless of outdated, discriminatory district boundaries. Idaho cemented itself as a national leader in ending school zoning discrimination. Idaho now empowers families to enroll their children in school at any time of the year, prohibits districts from charging families tuition for public school, increases transparency by requiring districts to publish how many spaces are available, and creates an appeal process for students who have been denied a transfer.
These policies have strong support nationwide. A September 2023 poll conducted by YouGov found that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe flexible education options would improve the overall education system. That same poll found that by more than a 10-to-1 margin (84% to 8%), Americans support giving every child in the United States the ability to attend the public school in their state that best meets their needs, regardless of where they live.
The momentum and public support are on our side heading into 2024. States are already lining up to introduce legislation that empowers families with the decision-making authority over their children’s education.
Some highlights from 2023 policy wins:
- 9,346,488 students eligible through universal programs
- 700,000 students eligible for a tax credit
- 3,977,911 students eligible for a voucher
- 45,000 students receive microgrants
- 5 statewide No More Lines bills passed
Some state highlights from 2023:
The LEARNS Act created education savings accounts to empower students with 90% of their per-pupil funding. The program will be universal by 2025, meaning every kid in the state can apply to participate.
HB1 converted the Family Empowerment Scholarship and Florida Tax Credit programs into universal education savings accounts. It also removed the cap on who can apply for the state’s multiple scholarship programs.
All schools and districts must establish an inter/intra-district public school access policy for students. Senate bill 1125 mandates that districts cannot discriminate against students based on residential address or charge families tuition for district transfers.
The budget bill expanded Indiana Choice Scholarship Program eligibility to nearly every student.
The Students First Act created a new education savings account program for students who want to attend a private school. The program is universal with full per-pupil funding following the student.
The budget bill included a universal expansion of the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which empowers families with scholarships up to $7,700 to pay for tuition, transportation, equipment, and other private school expenses.
Ohio expanded the EdChoice Scholarship Program, making eligibility universal.
The Parental Choice Tax Credit Act creates a universal refundable tax credit for parents who send their children to private school or who homeschool.
Utah created the Utah Fits All Scholarship, universal education savings account that empowers approximately 5,000 students.
West Virginia improved their open enrollment statute by mandating all county boards of education to create inter- and intra-district attendance zones and empowering students to transfer schools or districts at any point within the year.