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Beacon Study Demonstrates Benefits of Statewide ESAs

BY RON SHULTIS

December 6, 2018 9:00AM

As a new legislative session and the inauguration of a new governor approaches, the Beacon Center of Tennessee released part two of its series on education spending,  “Counting Dollars and Cents: The Economic Impact of a Statewide Education Savings Account Program in Tennessee.” Beacon collaborated with two national education experts to look at the potential economic benefits of a statewide education savings account (ESA) in Tennessee.

If you haven’t seen Beacon’s previous work on ESAs, they provide families a more flexible option than traditional voucher programs. ESA funds can be used to create a truly customized education experience including tutoring, speech and other education therapy, private school tuition, homeschool curriculum and supplies, education technology, and even help save for college.

Here are some of the report’s top findings. From a statewide ESA program, Tennessee could conservatively expect:

  • An increase in the number of high school graduates in the state by 13,480, leading to $2.9 billion in economic benefits by 2038;
  • An increase in overall personal income in the state by $683 million by 2038; and
  • Reduce the number of felons in the state by 15,451 and the number of misdemeanants by 21,380, producing societal benefits of $685 million by 2038.

Beacon’s first study highlighted how education outcomes are not just linked to education spending, especially as fewer and fewer of our tax dollars make it into the classroom but are instead syphoned away on administrative costs. In this report, we highlight that giving families at all income levels true education choice leads to better education outcomes, as well as higher financial, economic and societal benefits. Every child is unique, and allowing parents to customize the education best tailored for their child not only benefits that child but society as a whole.

You can read the full report here.