When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007 he said, “Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything…and today Apple is reinventing the phone.” In 2015, Tim Cook, Steve Jobs’ successor, announced that over 700 million iPhones had been sold since their inception in 2007. The iPhone did exactly what Steve Jobs said it would.
Today, it is likely that most people you know own some sort of smartphone. In just eight short years, standard flip phones have become almost quaint. Whereas the old standard of technological advancement use to be whether or not your phone had blackjack pre-installed on it, today’s iPhones have more capacity than the computer that guided the first Apollo mission in space.
It can be the same way for how we educate our young people. Education Savings Accounts (ESA’s) are the iPhone of Education. And just like Apple iPhones, ESA’s are changing everything about education.
Whereas the bottom line dollar amount funding a school district used to be the mark of education advancement, today, throwing money at a school district and hoping education standards improve is like getting excited about a pre-installed game on your old Motorola phone. The game was never that great and we can now do so much better!
ESA’s represent a major upgrade in flexibility for parents and students compared from older school choice programs like single use vouchers or tax credit scholarships. And they also encounter fewer program bugs along the way, increasing program accountability and defeating the usual constitutional challenges from opponents of education choice.
Brittany Corona, State Programs Director at the Friedman Foundation, in her article “The Future of School Choice: An Education Savings Account for Every Child” picks up on this iPhone theme, writing:
“Acting like an education debit card, ESAs empower parents to create an educational experience à la carte for their child. This ability to separate the financing of education from the delivery of services has the potential to change the entire landscape of educational options, fostering a supply side response that will continue to bring new education content providers into the market.
“ESAs are “the iPhone” of the school choice movement, says Dr. Matthew Ladner, senior fellow at the Foundation for Excellence in Education. “Charter and voucher programs were the rotary telephones of our movement.” They introduced a mechanism to choose private schooling options with public funds. “We are heading in the direction of iPhone choice programs— they still do that one thing well, but they also do a lot of other things.” Like allow parents to fully customize their child’s educational experience.”
So what do you say? Let’s work to usher in Education Savings Accounts in South Carolina. Our students already use iPads in elementary school, wouldn’t it be nice if the education system that provides them innovated itself just as much to allow them to customize their education like they customize their iPad?