Oklahoma state Rep. Jason Nelson has proposed the “Oklahoma Education Savings Account Act,” which would allow parents to get state funding for expenses such as private schooling, tutoring, books and more.
The money that would have been given to the child’s public school by the state of Oklahoma will instead be put into a bank account that is controlled by the child’s parents.
This plan could give parents more control over their child’s education, allowing them to opt out of public schooling in favor of private, online or homeschooling options.
This idea has been spreading and is expected to be voted on in states such as Iowa, Nevada, Texas and Nebraska.
There is, however, the possibility that giving too much freedom to parents could have ill effects on a child’s schooling.
Online or homeschooling options could lead to gaps in education. While many children excel in such programs, the lack of oversight can be cited as reason for concern. Depending on the parents, there is always a possibility of structure-less learning environment, which could leave children ill-prepared both intellectually and socially when they rejoin formal schooling for high school or college, according to middleschool.net.
The other option for parents would be moving their children out of the public school system over to private schools.
However, if every child in the state of Oklahoma is given the option of transferring, it could very quickly lead to high ranked schools becoming overpopulated while schools in poorer neighborhoods would lose students and funding, creating even more poverty for such institutions. The specifics are more complicated than this, but adults working in education expect the trends of shifting enrollment numbers are expected to follow this pattern.
Fewer students would lead to shrinking the public school system. The cost of education for Oklahoma would also increase, as parents who are currently paying for their children’s education look for ways to get the state to pay for it instead.
Also, what happens when a parent wants to send their child to a religious school? Once institutions accept government funding, they sometimes become subject to government control and influence. The situation could become tricky as religious schooling and government funding intertwine.
While Oklahoma’s current practice of giving disabled children money for alternate schooling makes sense, expanding it to all children in Oklahoma would lead to more problems than it would solve.
The state already provides an education for those who want it. It’s not its job to pay for those who don’t.