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Upcoming Ballot pledges $14,000 dollars to individual private school students.

Every student in the California public education system receives approximately $21,000 from the state government to fund their education from k-12. But what happens to these dollars when student's chose not to attend their local schools? Nothing. But the California Education Savings Account Initiative seeks to reroute this money back into the hands of the families by allocating $14,000 of the alloted $21,000 to these students.

Illustrated by Amy Zhao


By Kelly Liu, Emma Lin, Ananya Biswas

Edited by Faith Qiao

 

If you’re reading this, you’re probably well aware of the vast socio-economic inequalities that have plagued California education. Many parents feel their children are stuck in underperforming schools, yet have no money to save for post-secondary education leaving only wealthy families with the power to afford private or homeschool education. Yet at the same time, Californian public schools, which had once ranked amongst the best in the nation, now have fallen to the bottom in terms of schooling quality. With only the most privileged being able to afford an alternative education path, families are now leaving the public education system at a record rate.


Education is critical to individual empowerment as well as reducing poverty and income inequality, and funding on public education seems to reflect this sentiment as it has nearly doubled in the last decade. However, total enrollment in public schools have only continued to decline as student performance steadily deteriorates under eroding academic standards.


To solve the problem, the California Education Savings Account Initiative plans to allocate $14,000 for each student attending TK-12 private schools including but not limited to charter schools and religious institutions.


Currently, the state spends up to $21,000 for each student attending California’s public schools. However, this means that students that are not a part of the system does not benefit from this monetary allocation. Essentially, this initiative gives back the money originally allotted to each student. Under the Education Savings Account Initiative, allocate $14,000 to students attending non-public schools, with $21,000 allotted to those in the public school system, in a payment similar to a pension. The money gives those who need it, an alternative to the public schooling system.


To implement the initiative, students will have the money deposited into a savings account for them, on request of their parents or guardians. This money can be withdrawn at the request of the student only if they are over the age of 18. The savings plan will effectively incentivize the attendance towards private schools and also giving students the opportunity to choose between public or private education.


In terms of money, depending on the amount of people that apply, the ballot cost could go up to about 8 billion dollars in terms of the number of students in the country in comparison to the 80 billion dollars California has spent on education. Combined with the 160,000 students predicted to drop out of the public education sphere, the initiative plan may save the state about 2.3 billion dollars on public student spending.


With concerns of the benefits, while 14 thousand dollars isn’t a lot for a well off student, it is an immense amount of money for families who don’t have as much to spare. Unfortunately, the 14 thousand will only be given to families choosing to attend religious or private schools, which could pay off about a year of schooling. In the 2011-12 school year, only about 18% of private schools cost more than $15,000 which could steer many towards more privatized education systems, since the majority of private schools cost less than ten thousand a year. The sum of money however, may not be enough to cover other expenses, such as hot food, a school uniform and external schooling resources.


For centuries, education has been the tool for many to find the opportunity for both a better life and an escape from poverty. The California future depends on the education of its children and the quality of their learning. It is important to empower the individuals that will one day become our society in the times that lay ahead. The ballot finds money from the funds the state is currently obligated to spend on public education, thus there are no additional taxpayer costs, and it allows parents to use those funds to enroll and pay tuition for other private schools.


The funds can only be used on a student’s private education, and unused funds can eventually be used for post-secondary education. In the future, the ballot may appear in California as an initiated state statute on November 8, 2022, with the initiative currently in the process of a signature drive. Those signatures are due on April 11, 2022.


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