POLICY BRIEF: Catch-UP ESAs Give Students Immediate Support

Innovative Program Would Fill Major Gaps in the Providence Plan

Providence, RI – With the goal of obtaining immediate educational support for students who may have fallen behind after schools were shut down this past spring, an innovative policy idea would tap unspent federal funds to empower parents to customize supplemental programs for their children.

Called Catch-up ESAs in Rhode Island, and described in a policy brief published today by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, this policy idea has been formally submitted as legislation in Pennsylvania and is being considered in other states as well. 

The Catch-up ESA concept was publicly supported by Ray Rickman on a recently taped episode of In The Dugout with Mike Stenhouse, a new video interview series by the Center, especially if it can be targeted to low and moderate income families. Rickman heads Stages of Freedom, a nonprofit that works with hundreds of minority families.

“Instead of families being forced to consider spending their own money to augment their children’s schooling, or not being able to afford at anything at all, programs like after-school enrichment classes, online classes, or private-tutoring could become immediately within reach and would greatly benefit students who may have lost ground by not being able to attend in-person classes this past spring,” said Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. 

These one-time Catch-Up ESAs, available to all qualified students in the state, would also immediately fill major gaps in the five-year Providence schools reform plan, by addressing current student needs. The program would be funded by unspent federal CARES Act funds. The full policy brief can be viewed here.

All In The Dugout interviews can be found on the Center’s website, RIFreedom.org/in-the-dugout/ .

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