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We recently released a report on the benefits of expanding school choice.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the massive power imbalance in K-12 public education in Georgia. Private businesses, including private schools and daycares, have already opened, or are fighting to reopen. Many public schools have been fighting for the opposite. A nationwide survey also found that private schools and public charter schools generally adapted better to remote learning than district-run public schools in the spring of 2020. A primary difference is one of incentives. One of these sectors receives funding from families regardless of how well they meet their needs and, in this case, regardless of whether the institutions even open their doors for business.

The solution to this uneven power dynamic is to fund students directly so that institutions have real incentives to cater to the needs of families. Funding students, as opposed to systems, would benefit families by empowering them to choose the education provider that best meets their needs – public or private, in-person or remote.

But what kinds of economic impacts would such a policy have overall?

This report reviews the evidence on the topic and estimates the long-term economic impacts of funding Georgia students directly through a statewide education savings account program. This report also debunks some of the most common myths in the school choice debate.

Applying cautious estimates from each outcome (academic achievement, educational attainment and crime reduction), this study finds that an education savings account program serving 5% of Georgia students would be expected to provide the following long-run economic benefits:

  • $1.7 billion in economic benefits from higher lifetime earnings associated with increases in academic achievement
  • $1 billion in economic benefits from additional high school graduates
  • $13 million from reductions in the social costs associated with crimes

While education savings account programs vary in size, this study estimates the benefits of a program serving 5% of the student population. These estimated economic benefits arguably should not be combined and should be assessed separately because of potential overlap. For example, higher academic achievement increases the likelihood of high school graduation, and receiving a high school diploma reduces the likelihood of incarceration. It is also possible that results would differ in Georgia based on context, geographic location and implementation. Readers should therefore exercise considerable caution when examining these types of economic forecasts. That said, the preferred models in this study rely on cautious assumptions about the estimated effectiveness of expanding access to private school choice programs in Georgia.

You can read more here.