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Education savings accounts go to Washington

August 27, 2016

Last November, Politico explained “How Washington created some of the worst schools in America,” referring to Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools. These federally-funded K-12 schools enroll nearly 50,000 students and have some of the lowest rates of student achievement in the country. Just half of the students that attend these schools on Native American reservations graduate from high school. The national average for all students is 82 percent.

Yet some in Washington are prepared to give these students hope. On Sept. 7, the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee will consider S.2711, which would allow children attending BIE schools in states where lawmakers have enacted education sanvings accounts to use accounts.

The Goldwater Institute helped design the accounts for Arizona in 2011. With an account, the state deposits public funds in a private bank account that parents use to buy educational products and services for their children. The Institute has helped state lawmakers around the country to draft legislation for their state families. The Institute also successfully defended the accounts from legal challenges in Arizona and Florida.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), comes on the heels of legislation expanding Arizona’s education savings accounts to include children living on Native American reservations (where some students attend BIE schools, and others attend district public schools) in 2015.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee held the first hearings on the legislation in April 2016. The September hearing will consider amendments to the bill (amendments are not available yet).

In support of S.2711, former Arizona state Sen. Carlyle Begay told the Arizona Capitol Times, “Let’s not make it about the systems of education. Let’s just simply give kids the opportunity as a choice to want something more or better.”



*This post has been updated to clarify eligibility. (9/7/16)



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