top of page
Classroom

Why We OPPOSE ESAs

What Are ESAs?

Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) are similar to vouchers and are often confused with school choice. Unlike vouchers, where taxpayer funds go directly to education service providers and vendors of educational products via check, with ESAs, the government deposits funds into an account that a certified educational assistance organization maintains. To access funds to pay for private school tuition, homeschool curriculum, or other academic needs, parents will request approval from the educational assistance organization. Once approved, the organization will pay the service provider or vendor.

Why We Oppose

Increases Government Spending

After two years, the ESA in House Bill 1 would have cost Texas taxpayers more than $2.3 billion. 8% of that goes to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Certified Educational Assistance Organization (CEAO), a private company responsible for maintaining the accounts. 

You can read more about the financial impact of HB 1 HERE

HB 1 guaranteed new money for public education while limiting ESA to $500 million for FY 2025 and 2025. Still, at 5% usage, much of that new money is offset by losses to a district's weighted average daily attendance funding.

Screenshot 2024-06-02 at 3.25.45 PM.png

Source: PCRW - Every Texan Slides

While some ESA advocates claim this would save taxpayers money, states that have already implemented a voucher or ESA program prove this incorrect. Many states wind up with million-dollar deficits, resulting in cuts from public education and increased taxes.

Screenshot 2024-06-02 at 3.41.31 PM.png

Increases Government Agencies

Small government is a cornerstone of conservative principles. With ESAs, an increase in government and government agencies is inevitable. The most recent omnibus bill, HB1, which included ESAs, considerably expanded one of the most failed agencies in Texas. For ESAs alone, the TEA would have expanded to implement the bill's provision related to approving private school accreditation and vendors of educational products. 

This expansion in government would also include the Comptroller's Office. The Comptroller would be charged with establishing the program, administering the funds, prompting the program (with taxpayer money), and certifying educational assistance organizations. 

Screenshot 2024-06-02 at 4.05.36 PM.png

Increases Government Control

Each education savings account will have accountability strings attached. In a press conference hosted in South Dallas, Governor Abbott admitted there will be accountability measures, including testing. There is no way that ESAs will be passed without strings attached to the taxpayer funds parents receive. 

SB 1 and HB 1 had similar language, removing the rights of parents who participate in the program to opt their child out of taking an assessment each year and sharing the results with the private company (CEAO) managing their accounts. The HB1 language states, "To receive funding under the program, a participating parent must agree to ensure the administration of assessment instruments to the participating child in accordance with Section 29.371 and share or authorize administrators of assessment instruments to share with the child ’s certified educational assistance organization the results of those assessment instruments."

HB1 adds another caveat, removing students from the program if they fail two required yearly assessments.

 

Both proposed ESA programs require a pre-approval of educational service providers and vendors of educational products for the funds to be used. So, parents can be "empowered" with educational "freedom" as long as it is on the state's pre-approved list. To ensure funds are not spent on anything not approved parents will be required to submit a request to their CEAO for approval. Once the CEAO confirms, they will disperse funds to the appropriate provider or vendor.  

Increases Substandard Schools

ESAs have been proven to fail at improving students' academic achievement, the very thing they were created to do. Studies of similar voucher programs in Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, and Washington, DC, show considerable declines in student performance in key subjects of reading, math, social studies, and science. The decrease in student performance matches or exceeds the decline due to natural disasters. 

Screenshot 2024-06-02 at 5.46.39 PM.png

Studies for similar state programs: 

In Texas, more than 5.4 million students are currently enrolled in public or charter schools, but only 250,000 students are currently enrolled in private schools. Due to ESAs, private schools will not be able to accommodate the expected increase in students. This will encourage low-quality private schools to start all over the state as parents scramble for private schools that will accept their children while remaining within the budget of their education accounts. In other states, a similar situation occurred, which resulted in subpar schools being supported by taxpayer funds.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/psj.12164

ESAs Are Not The Solution

Goverment-Help.jpg

ESAs are being presented as the solution to Texas Public Education's problems while ignoring the root cause. It is time for legislators to stop looking for new programs or bills to author and instead look back to past legislation and its effect on our public education. It is time to fix public education, not destroy it. 

THE TEXAS CONSTITUTION ARTICLE 7.jpg

Click the link for more information on HB 1

Increases Government Spending

Proposed bills in the last legislative session would have cost taxpayers billions of dollars with increased spending year after year. 

Increases Government Agencies

They will add more positions to the already failing Texas Education Agency while expanding the comptroller's office to run and maintain the program.

Increases Government Control

ESAs will come with accountability strings. Participants will be required to take yearly assessments and utilize their pre-approved education service providers and vendors list.

Increases
Substandard Schools

Peer-reviewed research shows that the impact is harmful to student achievement.  ESAs do nothing to address the root cause of the problems in Texas public education. 

bottom of page