Education bill that prioritizes students over systems to be voted on today

The Minnesota Senate will be voting on an education bill today (Thursday) that would give more Minnesota families access to educational options that work best for them. Ask Gov. Tim Walz and lawmakers to make school choice a reality for thousands of Minnesota students.

S.F. 960 includes several provisions that focus on students over systems. One such provision is Education Savings Accounts. Through ESAs, kids in low-performing public school districts and those limited to a distance or hybrid learning model would have access to a different school or a variety of other educational services — such as tutoring or supplemental curriculum, mental health treatment, or special education services and therapy, to name a few.

But there will be senators today who will side with the status quo and try and remove this provision from the bill, which is why it’s so important Minnesotans voice support for this legislation that equips families with more control and flexibility over their children’s education.

Not all students thrive in the same learning environment, and financial barriers should not prevent a student from accessing a quality education. According to a March 2021 poll conducted by Morning Consult, 69 percent of Minnesotans and 75 percent of parents nationwide support ESAs.

Parents, particularly in communities of color, support ESAs and expanding school choice, and it’s time for Minnesota leadership to join the numerous other states who are prioritizing students over a top-down education system with clear shortcomings.

For parent Kofi Montzka, the time for expanding school choice is now. “As a black mom, who once was a black child of a drug addict, I saw education as the only way out. Education is the great equalizer,” she shared with Opportunity for All Kids. “I am so sick of the failing education establishment talking about ‘equity.’ If they really want equity, they would provide a quality education or allow all students a real ability to go elsewhere when their school is failing them. There will never be equity if a child can’t read or write.

“We can’t wait one more minute. Please speak up for Minnesota students today,” Montzka concludes.

Seven states currently have ESA programs in place, with a handful of other states (including our fellow Midwest states Indiana, Iowa, North Dakota, and Kansas) currently considering their own ESA legislation. And our neighbor South Dakota recently signed into law tax credit scholarships, which is another way to empower parents and fund students instead of systems.

If critics of school choice legislation are concerned about district schools losing students, maybe it’s time they consider examining why these families are wanting to explore other options in the first place.

Quick Facts

  • ESAs have been advanced and passed in multiple states with bipartisan support.
  • ESAs are not the same as vouchers.
  • ESAs pass the constitutionality test.
  • Participation in an ESA program is voluntary.
  • ESAs leave behind federal and local funds in a student’s home district for fixed overhead costs, while relieving the school of the costs of having the student in the school.