Jenny’s Mixtape: Everybody Wants to Rule the World

If you’ve been reading (and listening) to my weekly ESA emails – THANK YOU! We are hitting week 7 and I wanted to do a roundup of my previous Mixtapes in case any may be relevant for your current work. As always, please feel free to let me know if there is a subject or topic on ESAs and ESA Implementation that you’re interested in!

You might be wondering why I titled this week’s MixTape after the Tears for Fears song, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”. Besides being an absolute 80’s classic – with nods to the desire that everyone has for power and hitting some political issues of the time, this one lyric really stood out to me:

“Nothing ever lasts forever, everybody wants to rule the world”

Those of us who support education freedom and parent choice in education are seeing some incredible wins across the country. There is a lot to be excited about. However, in our excitement that parents will finally have more choices for their children’s education, we have to remember that “nothing ever lasts forever”. Making wise decisions now about ESA implementation, program operations and parent use are a key factor into the success and longevity of ESA programs nationwide. Let’s recap what I’ve covered so far:

1. Video Killed The Radio Star

A look at changes in the Arizona ESA program feedback and surveys.

Key Considerations for ESA Implementation:
  • Whether or not surveys are required in statute or rules, they should be regularly done.
  • Increase emphasis and value on survey completion by parents AND vendors.
  • Develop a thoughtful array of survey questions.
  • Make survey results usable to the public.

2. Another One Bites the Dust

A look at what prohibiting the use of two different types of scholarship programs (ESA and STOs) in the same year has meant for Arizona families.

Key considerations for ESA Implementation:
  • When ESA implementing agencies consider changing long-standing policies or administrative procedures, they should involve all potential stakeholders in the process such as ESA parents, private schools, public schools, School Tuition Organizations, policy leaders, etc.
  • Changes in policy or administrative procedures that are not part of a rule making process should nevertheless receive adequate notice and public feedback, especially from families most likely to be impacted. Although not required by law, this approach will foster transparency and hopefully avoid the dreaded “unintended consequences.”
  • ESA implementing agencies should ensure language in official and unofficial communications, especially with ESA families, regarding policies and procedures are consistent and clear.

3. All Your Favorite Bands

Requesting Special Education Evaluations and the impact that requiring only state performed evaluations has on students and families for scholarship programs.

Key Considerations for ESA Implementation:
  • When policy makers consider tax credit scholarships or education savings accounts, they need to understand the intense burden placed on families if they’re required to go through the school district evaluation process to qualify for special education funding. States should consider allowing private evaluations from a qualified practitioner such as an MD or Neuropsychologist to qualify.
  • Allowing private evaluations to qualify for STO and ESA funds frees up valuable school district resources and staff time.
  • States should consider accepting METs, IEPs, and 504 plans from other states, unlike Arizona – which requires in-state documents to be obtained, even for tuition tax credits.
  • Grant programs from the state or private philanthropy should be established to help pay for private evaluations because most insurance companies do not cover Neuropsychologist exams (and did you know that you can’t even get a dyslexia diagnosis from a school? It has to be from a Neuropsychologist!)

4. When We Were Young

Why Homeschoolers Should Support ESAs, and what states need to consider before, during, and after ESA implementation for homeschoolers.

Key Considerations for ESA Implementation:
  • When crafting ESA programs, policy makers should legally distinguish homeschoolers and home education with an ESA. If a statutory definition for homeschoolers doesn’t already exist, it should be added. We must always protect homeschoolers who choose not to accept scholarships from the state.
  • Homeschoolers should look at actual research on ESA programs when formulating their opinions. Just because ESAs may not be a good fit for every family, it does not follow that ESAs should therefore be denied for all others. Policy makers should spend significant time helping alleviate the concerns of homeschoolers about ESAs from the beginning of policy conversations.
  • Policy makers should continue fighting to ensure ESA programs allow homeschoolers to switch into the program. They should also ensure approved items go beyond printed books and curriculum, but also include therapies, tutoring, online and in-person educational programs, and more.

5. Counting Crows

Why Debit Cards for ESA programs are an essential part of effective implementation and necessary for families to effectively utilize ESA funds.

Key Considerations for ESA Implementation:
  • When crafting ESA programs, policy makers should consider that families unbundling their child’s education will need more than just an online marketplace to make purchases.
  • Not all families will need a card to access their scholarship funds, but those that do are likely unable to do reimbursement or live in areas where getting their vendor on a platform is exceptionally difficult.
  • Tracking misspending and fraud, just like in any government program, is essential and should be a top priority. However, when analyzing and reporting the misuse of ESA funds it should be done in comparison with misspending in public schools and other government programs like Medicare and SNAP.
  • Do we trust parents? Is that really true? Or are we going to live in fear of supposed misspending and regulate ESAs to the point where no families want to use them. States need to decide where they stand.

6. Losing My Religion

What is the relationship between ESA programs and faith based schools, and what key takeaways should states be ready to address from critics of ESAs and ESA Implementation.

Key Considerations for ESA Implementation:
  • Because parents have the fundamental right to direct the upbringing and education of their children, and because we live in a pluralistic society, ESA opponents should be called out for their bigotry against people of faith.
  • Parents, policy makers, and state leaders should welcome a plurality of school options, and be bold when opponents attack faith-based schooling.
  • Faith-based schools should be confident in accepting ESA funds since the United States Supreme Court has held that schools can not be excluded from state based scholarships because of their religious beliefs.

Thanks for reading, and listening! If this ESA content has been helpful for you – please share this email and encourage others to subscribe here!


Listen to Tears for Fears and Everybody Wants to Rule the World

Click here to subscribe for more of Jenny’s MixTapes

- Jenny Clark

Founder & Executive Director

Arizona native and mother of five, Love Your School Founder Jenny Clark knows full well the unique variations in how children learn. Jenny grew up in Arizona, attended her local district school from K-12, and then continued on to the University of Arizona and received a BSBA in Business Economics.

Recent Articles