Speaking at his inaugural address on Tuesday, Gov. Wolf emphasized the importance of making sure “our children's opportunities are not restricted by his or her ZIP code.” We couldn’t agree more!
According to research conducted in 2018, educational opportunity provided through school choice produces economic prosperity in numerous ways. These include, “decreased criminal activity, increased high school graduation rates, and increased lifetime earnings.” Study authors Flanders and DeAngelis modeled what would happen in Mississippi if the state enacted a universal ESA (Education Scholarship Account) program. Their conclusions are astounding:
- Mississippi would pass West Virginia in less than two decades on per capita personal income and the advantage would grow to around $700 per person by the year 2036.
- Mississippi would have 6,191 fewer felons and 8,566 fewer misdemeanants by 2036, leading to a reduction of over $238 million in costs to society.
- Mississippi would have 5,338 more graduates by 2036, leading to social benefits in excess of $1 billion.
These figures assume a moderate rate of program participation—5 percent in year one, 10 percent in year two, with 1 percent growth thereafter. But the benefits only grow as student participation increases. Under higher rates of participation—10 percent in year one, 20 percent in year two, with 1 percent growth thereafter:
- Mississippi would pass West Virginia in 14 years on per capita personal income, and the advantage would grow to around $2,300 per person by the year 2036.
- Mississippi’s streets would have 9,990 fewer felons and 13,824 fewer misdemeanants by 2036, leading to a reduction of over $384 million in costs to society.
- Mississippi would have 7,798 more graduates by 2036, leading to social benefits in excess of $1.6 billion.
Pennsylvania is becoming safer with recent reductions in the prison population highlighting the opportunity for additional criminal justice reform, but we could use an economic boost. Pennsylvania ranks 45th in income growth from 1991 to 2017, leading to high out-migration.
House Leadership has rightly committed to Career and Technical Education and workforce development as paths to upward mobility. Expanding education choice is another way to promote statewide prosperity and workforce development.
We can empower hundreds of thousands of students by raising the limits on tax credit scholarships and enacting education scholarship accounts.
Next week, tens of thousands of students across the country will celebrate their opportunity to choose a school that meets their unique needs with hundreds of events and activities in Pennsylvania alone. Giving more students education options is the best way to expand children’s prospects of happy, productive lives beyond the boundaries of their zip code.
Don’t miss a thing! Follow the action on Twitter at @schoolchoicewk and don’t forget to tag your photos and stories: #schoolchoice and #NSCW2019.