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Political fearmongering on kids’ education is wrong

Dec 3, 2019 by AFP

Recently, state Rep. Bruce Griffey signed onto a bill that would severely limit access to education for children throughout Tennessee. What’s worse, he’s used false claims and offensive arguments to get his point across.

Among other things, Griffey has insinuated parents with substance issues would abuse educational savings accounts to fund their drug habits, claimed education savings accounts would be “accessible by illegal aliens” and warned that parents could choose “Islamic and other religious schools” that “may not emphasize fidelity to our U.S. Constitution.”

Yikes.

Griffey’s fearmongering statements are nothing more than thinly veiled attempts to stop families from choosing the right educational option for their children.

Like any government program, it is impossible to ensure that there will never be someone engaging in fraudulent activity. Fortunately, the Tennessee’s ESA law includes provisions to protect against fraud and ensure that the uses of ESA funds are permitted. Furthermore, when looking at other states that have implemented ESAs, such as Arizona, we find little evidence of rampant fraud. In 2016 an independent auditor determined that less than one percent of Arizona’s ESA funds were misspent. Arizona parents have spent more than 99% of ESA funds on approved educational products and services.

Options such as ESA programs have allowed children all over the country to find the educational environment that best fits their unique needs.

Rather than calling into question the motives of hardworking families through discriminatory attacks, all Tennessee leaders should come together and double down on ways to expand educational opportunity and create more educator autonomy in the classroom.

Every kid deserves access to an education that meets their needs and puts them on a pathway toward a fulfilling life.