How Much Money Does Hawaii Spend Per Student?
by Joe Kent, Grassroot Institute, July 23, 2016
When Aaron Leif was younger, his parents wanted to send him to a better school. However, in Hawaii, parents aren’t allowed to send their children to a different school unless they get a rare district exemption.
His parents tried for years to get an exemption to go to a better school, with no luck. Finally, after many years, Aaron was granted an exemption, but only at the end of his senior year. By then, it was too late to find a better option.
Of course, the private school option was simply too expensive at an average of $8,000 per year. But Hawaii gives public schools almost $12,000 per student per year. What if that money were given to local families instead, so they could spend it on the education of their choice?
A new program popping up in five states could do just that. The program, called Education Savings Accounts, would give public money to parents which could be spent on public or private education.
Parents who join the program can spend the money on many forms of education including public schools, charter schools, private schools, home-based learning or any number of educational goods or services.
Some people may worry that implementing the program in Hawaii would take money away from public schools. However, in an odd way, the program could actually provide more money for public schools.
As students leave public schools, taking the money with them, a portion of the money stays with the public school. That means the school would have more money to spend on fewer students.
By setting the program at 75% of the per-pupil funding — leaving 25% with the public school for each student that enrolls — Hawaii’s Department of Education would receive more money per student.
That means Education Savings Accounts could provide more money for Hawaii public schools, more money for private schools, and more money for families looking to give their child a premium education.
Joe Kent, Vice President of Research and Development, interviewed Aaron Lief, Grassroot analyst, to learn more about ESAs. Listen to the full interview here: