tv Jeb Bush on School Choice Programs CSPAN February 17, 2018 8:00pm-9:37pm EST
>> good afternoon. i am pleased to kick off today's event on education savings accounts and the future of educational choice. our event today is straightforward, and in a moment, i will give the podium to our speaker, jeb bush. i will join him on stage freight the conversation together, and following that, my former colleague, now the executive director of the center for advancing opportunity will join the distinguished group of panelists, which i will let him introduce the details.
today's event -- a little housekeeping, it is being livestream and full video will be available later in the day. we also have our friends at c-span broadcasting, and we appreciate their service. for those watching at home and online, we have a #for the event. it is #jebbushataei. will pose questions for later and monitoring on twitter. this is national school choice week, and in ideal way to wrap up the discussion is education savings accounts. i am aware some of you are wondering why we should care about education savings accounts. and what our education savings accounts? they are a mechanism for educational choice in six states where parents can withdraw kids
from schools and into accounts where parents can control and use those funds for restricted uses for educational services. that include private school tuition, but much more. online learning programs, private tutoring, higher education expenses, and a variety of customized learning services and materials. it allows parents to unbundle education services. moving beyond choices between schools, we are moving beyond the idea of school choice to really brought their -- broadened the choices of school choice. it comes with promises and pitfalls. last year, gerard robinson and i released an edited volume, our education savings accounts, the new frontier of choice.
we brought together a bunch of experts to look at the many history, legal foundation, and how parents use them and what public opinions running them is. how to develop the supply side and the minister, regulate them, and ensure quality control. there is a number of these aspects will discuss today. growth and education savings accounts and other school choice mechanisms has been progressing in the states for a number of years, but we are in a new era of school choice. the unapologetic support for school choice from the current administration is new, and is raising the possibility of tailwinds and headwinds for school choice. what the future of educational choice holds and the role esa will play and it is open for questions, and i can't think of
a better person to tackle that question and governor bush. jeb bush does it need introduction, he is the 43rd governor of florida. but, some introduction to his passion for education reform. during his two terms, his top priority was to tackle florida's struggling education system. under his leadership, they placed them accountable school choice program in the nation. it can be defended at the time, and still defended today. even before becoming governor, bush was engaged in reform and florida, being involved with starting the first charter school in florida back in 1994. today, governor bush maintains his passion for all students across the country, serving as the chairman are the foundation of excellence in education.
he founded to transform education in america. please join me in welcoming governor jeb bush. [applause] mr. bush: thank you all very much. when people say i don't need introduction, some person saw me, and i guess i have remote face id, having run for president, not a winner, but be not to be a little bit, you get known, and this woman was looking at me. she said, i know you, you used
to be jeb bush, right? [laughter] mr. bush: always good to recognize that i need no introduction, but i probably do. it is a joy to be here. arthur, are you trying to push the brand here? this is a beautiful place, and it is a place where scholars think big thoughts and create practical ways that we could improve the human condition and we could live with a life of purpose and meaning. i try to still every idea that comes out of this place, and it is a joy and honored to be here. so why's it important to talk about school choice? for people who don't like a good political fight, it seems like that goes on when you talk about education reform and school choice. advocating as made different choices as possible -- normal people don't like to get into
fights, just voluntarily. here is what i believe to be true. the first thing we have to recognize is that if you think the school is working, and many parents think the schools are working, then great. if you think the schools are ok, or mediocre, or you think they are failing, it doesn't matter. the arguments that we have from time to time in all 50 states, and occasionally in washington is the quality of schools and who is to blame for the outcomes and all of that. it is irrelevant, what we can all agree on is learning has to get better. has to change. it has to recognize the world we're living in and the world we are moving in is dramatically different than the schools were organized to do. if you start with that premise, then the political fight will subside and some of these new ideas should get a fair hearing.
we try to convince people of different ways of thinking, because the world we are moving because the world we are moving towards is the most exciting time to be alive, and it is also perhaps the most dangerous time we have lived in. the me give you statistics that bear this out. from mackenzie, has become totally accurate. 45% of all jobs that americans are paid to do could be automated with existing technology today. that is $2 trillion of wages. imagine what that looks like in a decade of time. i have been fascinated by ups building a one of a kind of research project looking at every aspect of their business, it is called the overriding project -- or ryan project -- orion project. using inputs across the spectrum of their business, including the trucks are going. with they concluded is that
becoming fully operational at the orion project, not allowing trucks to take left turns, which is counter to me living in miami for when i make a left turn, i go as quick as i can. they determined using big data analytics that it would save them more money. if the implement this program, they would save 100 million miles per year. 10 million gallons of fuel. they would reduce co2 emissions by metric tons, reduce the number of trucks by a thousand, and save 400 million towards the bottom line. marching band celebrating it. but what about the truck
drivers? think of our entire economy using this information across the board. the combination of wireless technology, use of artificial intelligence, big data analytics, converging into our lives on once. it is possible that a child born in poverty, going to in lives on once. excellent school, would never get a job. the simple fact is that this is not just about poverty, there is a lot of people who will not have the skills because of the education system, starting from k12 and all the way up to lifelong learning is not prepared or the world we're moving towards. that is why this is important. education is the chance to have the skills to live a life of purpose and meaning. quality teachers in front of students, using innovative technologies the right way will give people the chance to be, not just a truck driver, but the
software provider that will make it possible for a lot of other people to be successful. you extrapolate the yes experience, not just in transportation, manufacturing, retail, amazon sales for each one of its employees cells one million worth of goods. in brick-and-mortar retailer sells $100,000 of goods for employees. was going to be the winner there? we're not prepared to deal with this exciting and dangerous time. so the question is which governance model applies to the 21st century and the world are moving towards? my personal opinion is that the toll thousand 29 eyes, monopolies, we call them school districts, is not the best governance model for the world we're moving towards. the new system should be parent driven, totally transparent,
focused on as many choices as possible, where we customize the learning experience for this unique group of people emerging into our world. florida is a geordie minority state in terms of its children -- so is texas, california, and most states that have growing populations and 58% of all children in florida are qualified for free and reduced lunch. same as texas and california and other states that are growing. you think the systems were created around these kids are working to the extent that they should? i don't believe so. the reason why our foundation -- why have been involved for many years, fact, it is like dog years. i think it is the american way to empower americans to allow them to be able to love their children with their heart and soul in the right way to be able to improve education outcomes.
have you already the end of average? a phenomenal book by todd rose, a professor at the harvard school of education, and in the book, i recommend it if you haven't read it. begins with a story of military plane crashes in the late 1940's and 1950's with the conversion of jet aircraft from what existed before. they studied the reasons why there were so many crashes, and what they ruled out, highly error and training, and they turned to the cockpit that was designed prior. a young lieutenant named gilbert daniels look at the body measurements of more than 4000 pilots. he measured the leg sizes, arms, next of these pilots to determine what would be the
perfect cockpit so there could be fewer crashes. when he determined was that not a single pilot met the average. some might have longer arms, some had bigger torsos, some had big cans, some had small hands, but the simple fact was that all -- out of those 4000 pilots, not a single one met at average. many aspects of our society, averages, that is not the relevant thing we should be looking at. not one of them conform to to the average used to design the cockpit. and so, the simple point is, everybody is different. is not a question of race or income, we are all different, which makes us all special and unique, and our education system should be customized around that uniqueness. we could do that today, whereas 50 years ago in the industrial era, whenever thing was home
watching eyes and created and organized around averages, it was impossible to do. that is why we should focus on school choice, particularly school savings accounts. virtual schools, all of those, are important for sure, but what makes esa -- where we should focus on expanding is that it is customized to the uniqueness of these child's. that the parents received the money, and it won't go 100% to another option in the monopoly that dictates where the child should go to. it could be for therapy, tutoring, afterschool programs, for the uniqueness of that child. i would argue, empowered with the proper information, parents are the best school district that exists in this country. what we should do about it? this is not a place for
washington is going to play an important role. play a role for advocacy for sure, but this is a battle fought out in 50 states. legislators are doing this work, whether it is in nevada, certainly in florida -- the largest yes a scholarship program with close to 10,000 students were parents can customize learning experience rated it can grow to 100,000 if we have the budget to be able to make that happen. and states that are focused on this, special needs kids, and in the case of nevada and other places, across the board for students. things work out. my vision is that with the right policies in place, the most open system, you would have a half-day where mom could take from a traditional school, take an ap calculus course that is not available in the classroom setting, online, from the virtual school or other virtual schools. take an online music course, or a spanish course with a local,
retired schoolteacher. my guess is that education outcomes be much stronger, more sustainable to deal with the world we are moving towards. the question is, what are the issues at hand to implement this vision? it is complicated, there's a lot of things that need to be worked on. with his accountability look back -- look like when parents school to schools -- two schools at once? how can we create harmony, how do we deal with assuring that this -- disadvantaged families get equal access? all of these things have to be worked out for sure, but it is work doing. if you consider the system we have today, which works effectively -- the optimal system for governance for the next generation -- fine. you have what you have. a growing number of families look in the whole rise in and see huge opportunities, but also see a great danger if their children don't gain the power of knowledge.
by advocating these programs, i think we can achieve that at a far faster rate, and we need to. the world is moving at warp speed towards an exciting time. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, governor. i know have questions for you. to backup a little bit off of esa, yet have been at this for quite a while. before most folks -- before the
century started -- how does the landscape of school choice change over time since you were governor? mr. bush: when we created the first voucher program in 1999, it was the first statement larger program. it hadn't been done before, and you would have to before we implemented it that the world was going to come to an end. one of the advantages of implementing policy is that the world does not come to an end. our system was a perfect, but
the fact that we implemented it took away the arguments from the people were protecting the status quo at all costs. my attitude is that success is never final and reform is never complete. when you need to be doing is creating perpetual -- you build a platform based on one policy change, and that allows you to take advantage and move on. what we proved was that the world is a come to an end. 47% of all florida kids go to a school that is chosen by their parents. whether that is a universal public school choice, which we have in florida -- a burgeoning charter school effort. largest corporate tax scholarship -- 100,000 kids, the largest voucher for kids with learning disabilities. all of these have been fought, people attack, fishback, but once implemented, people move on to the next to gripe about. my advocacy is to be big and bold and fill the void, because if you don't, someone else will. >> you had not one, but two big shifts, two moves forward. you had an a plus, the
accountability system. you also had large choice programs -- which do you think, and you were governor, got the most bang for your buck? >> we also eliminated social -- in a big way. we created a school recognition program to the schools that were great from a to at -- the bonus program was the $100 for students that there went directly to the schools that were a partial improvement. mr. bush: it is not one thing, it is about improving student learning. we got it because we focused on early childhood literacy. it was a choice by itself, it wasn't accountability by itself, wasn't about being passionate if a third grade kid is functionally illiterate, it is
shameful. society should be ashamed of that fact, and we created a climate where there was a lot of tension. was a dynamic time because not everybody agreed with the policies, but we try to faithfully implement them and we had success, thankfully. the point is, we were at the bottom in terms of student learning, and through all of this effort, to put in perspective, the nation's report card in 1997 or 1998, we were 29th out of 31. in 10 years time, we were sixth out of 50. that is the best way, to protect these programs, you need to have success in learning and have a constituency where the parents will say, you can take this away
from me. >> i want to move to the choice, but i want to focus on florida. they have a strong charter sector, and i know folks who like school choice, but they say charters are enough, charters are what we need. we put all our bets on charters. you support private school choice in addition to charters. why aren't charters enough? mr. bush: they are not, plain and simple. we have slots in the country that are unfilled, what is wrong with having people be given other options that is best for themselves? maybe some parents, i am a catholic, i am lobbying to make sure my grandchildren get a catholic education. so far, it works. or i'd say it is a job. why not, why not have a variety
of different options that is public and private. i never understood what the decision about it is. there are great schools, and they should be held as great examples. if you go to a parent central model rather than protecting the sacred school -- what other sector we go through this whole, exhaustive conversation? we don't do it when we consume products, do we? do go to the supermarket once in a while question mark i do the shopping in my family, and i use this analogy of milk. the lust that i use analogy was two years ago, but the number of milk options, or fake milk, has doubled. the whole world is alive when you are given options and you are the informed consumer, and as with the parents should be. they should be given informed information so they can make the choice themselves.
other it is private, public, or in between, it doesn't matter. >> let me get on esa's, which is one of my favorite topics. a lot of critics will say that esa essays are just vouchers by another name. that is a criticism, and my question is -- mr. bush: what is wrong with that? >> are the vouchers by another name or are they something new, and what is important about it? mr. bush: the difference is that a voucher will give the parent their choice to go to a private school. where transferring from a prop -- public school to a private school. in esa can do that, and take esa dollars and go to a private school and be done with it, or you can create a customized education experience for your child.
that is the difference -- the parent is in charge of this money rather than in the case of the corporate tax scholarship program, where you have a direct support organization. it is a meaningful difference if you envision where we should be moving, which is many choices that are just focused on one choice. ultimately, you could envision k-12 education looking like college where you invited up -- divided up by credits. k-12 education with 180 days of butts in seats. the funding comes from 180 days, and the system changes that, and that is power. >> part of esa's we can build a marketplace for education. how about the supply side, maybe
can tell me about florida or other states where the foundation is working. how does the supply side of private providers respond when we kick up the man program like yes a? mr. bush: florida is a great place, because we have these robust programs, in the case of florida, i don't believe there has been a catholic school that has been closed. where you go to pennsylvania at other places where they have limited choice programs, care closing or converting catholic schools to charter schools, seems odd to me. it is a better solution than closing the schools altogether, but it is good to have a vibrant, catholic education for parents to truly wanted -- who truly wanted. we have seen scholarships -- and that all of that, we get 8000
people a day moving to our state. we don't have a personal income tax, i do know how you do it with that, but we have people moving to florida. the natural growth of our population, and we have the sustainable, now long-term programs that support building supply. i think what you will find is that it will be the net result in states that are getting close to the 40 to 50% market share of students whose parents can make choices rather than be dictated where they can go to school. >> there's one in committee and you're the finish line in new hampshire. >> sustainable, long-term programs to support building supply.
i would say that there are things, you can pass laws on esa's and other areas of school choice that almost guarantee that it failed. you don't want that. you would rather wait until you can build enough support to get a meaningful bill done. the number one issue is probably money. if you are doing any essay --doing an esa that is so small that it will have a limited impact on parents, it will probably not be effective. if you have, in return for money, you are imposing major regulation on top of private schools, bad idea. in the choice arena, states have -- massachusetts is a more heavily regulated charter school state than, say, arizona. both of them seem to work.
there becomes a point where you make it impossible for these schools to be successful. their mission, instead of having traditional top-down regulation from the department of education to the school districts to the schools, which has been the norm. maybe some federal mandates thrown in for fun. you are replacing that with the ultimate regulator: an informed parent loving their children with their heart and soul, making their choice. i do this all the time, a lighter touch. trust parents to make these choices as long as they have the proper information. if you expect parents to understand all of their choices just because they can go online or something, forget it. >> that was my next question, thank you. there is a question of whether
complexity itself can be a subsidy. if a program is so complex that only terribly sophisticated people can take advantage of it, then it advantages them and disadvantages folks who would have a hard time negotiating it. >> esa's are more complicated than most other choice mechanisms. what is the state's role in providing that information and creating a system where there is common sense about how to carry this through? >> i would be wary of saying the disadvantage think -- i assume it means poverty or lower income. that they are not capable of complex thoughts. i think all parents need to be empowered with information. my beloved state of florida does a lousy job. if you see what choices are
available online, you will find excel spreadsheets with very little relevant information. one of the things our foundation is trying to do is to do competitions to get states to understand how important it is to create clear, transparent information about how their kids are doing, how the schools are doing, and how the options of other schools -- what they have. esa's are more complicated, because it is multiple services be bundled -- services debundled. i don't want to use the analogy of sending women and men into space. this should not be as complicated as that. the reason it looks complicated is that no one has actually done it. it's not complicated until at least -- as part of any of these
laws, there should be an effort to focus on transparency. >> same with testing, by the way. if you believe in accountability, which i do. if you measure it, you get better results. one of life's lessons. if you don't provide information on where a student sits or what they've learned, and you don't get to the previous teacher or the next teacher, and you are testing in february or march, and you are not giving diagnostic tools to the teacher or parents, those things would yield better results, but this is what democrats do. they don't think about this as a normal person would, providing real information in a timely fashion. i'm answering your questions before you ask them, i think.
one of the real challenges about this, esa's particularly, the governor signs it into law and there is a big ceremony and there's children around and it is a beautiful time. that is just the beginning. then you have to create the world's -- create the rules on how you implement it. and the people that you are asking to implement it oppose it. that is the plight of school reform in our country. by and large, the state boards of education, people who have been working there for many years, don't like these ideas. district superintendents don't like these ideas. unions don't. we are asking them to implement, in a faithful way. you have to be fiercely vigilant and use the old winston churchill expression, never given. bang 'em, fight 'em, plead with 'em.
>> a lot of folks that are critical of school choice say that you are just against traditional public schools. indeed, you support vouchers, charters, education savings accounts, online schools. all of these would inevitably result in more people leaving traditional public schools. so, given that backdrop, what do you think of as the future for traditional districts and neighborhood schools? mr. bush: i think the majority of, particularly elementary schools, that is a value that parents really appreciate. having a child close to where they live, that is of value.
or having a child go to a school that is close to where they work, that is of value. bureaucrats would not think of it that way, but a parent might have a unique circumstance. traditional schools would be where a majority of the learning takes place in the next 20 years, i totally believe that. ultimately, we get beyond what we call this, and we focus on student learning. that is the ultimate goal. if we are a while off on that -- when we implement these, i can only tell you what happened in florida because we were the first state to basically do all of this at once. we were at the bottom. our schools were not perceived to be doing well because they weren't. we had huge learning gains in public schools. all schools get better when you enable parents to make choices. and when you focus on early
childhood literacy with a passion, everyone does better. it is not a zero-sum game. >> last question before we get kicked off. the administration supports private school choice in a way that has never happened before. progress up until now has always happened in the states. do you expect any action on the federal level that could actually make significant change in the private school choice programs, or should we still look in the future? mr. bush: states are where the action is in policy, and on the local level, the action as far as learning. i think it is great that secretary devos is an advocate of school choice in general. i think it is great she is a leading advocate in the country for that. it inspires and emboldens policy makers across the country to know there is an ally. there's certain discrete things the federal government might do, but i'm not counting on it. last i checked, there sort of a
gridlock situation. i think the action is going to be outside of here. i appreciate -- if i had a magic wand, i would ask that the federal government create criteria of how they want to hold the states accountable, but give the title i money to the states to empower the parents. there are things we could do involving changes in law, but i'm not holding my breath. what they should not do is create well intended -- implement well-intended ideas that stifle the already-implemented school choice programs. there is a way to screw it up. put regulations on top of federal money and end up killing these programs. do no harm would be the first step for washington. >> jeb bush, thank you very much. [applause]
>> again, i would like to thank governor bush for his time. i would like to thank my colleague for a very spirited conversation. take any seat that you would like. i am sitting here. it is good to see some friends in the audience. it's been a while. my name is gerard robinson. i am the executive director of
the center for -- opportunity here in washington dc, and i am in adjunct fellow here at aei. i have with us today four people who know a great deal about not only school choice, but education in the united states. all of them bring unique perspectives to this conversation. i will introduce each person briefly, seated in the order in which they will speak. you will find full biographies in your packets, but i will say a few words. my friend here is the director of the center of education of policy at the heritage foundation. we have known each other for a number of years. she is one of the top scholars in the area of school choice. not just pre-k and k through 12, but higher education. she is a fellow at the heritage foundation and is committed to work for esa's at a time when we were barely thinking about it.
my next colleage is one of the three editors of the book that matt had a chance to hold up earlier. he spends a great deal of his time in states testifying before organizations on the importance of school choice. not only private but public. he has got some work here, and you should pick that up as well. i've got the vice president for strategic technology and innovation. that organization was mentioned earlier. it is a -- organization in the state of florida. over 100,000 students have received scholarships. when i was a commissioner of education in florida, i had a
chance to see firsthand how the program is making a tremendous difference in the lives of people. i also want to mention he is a certified ethical hacker. the "ethical" part is interesting. he may decide to talk about that. and last we have darrell of north carolina. darrell is one of the longest-serving residents of a nonprofit in the country, focused on educational freedom. in his role, he has had opportunity to support the tuition grant program for students and a fellowship program for low income students focused on educational freedom. in the state. he also has his thumb in the charter schools and take policy
practice, and make sure there is a parental component. i'm going to turn to lindsay, talking for five to seven minutes. >> thank you for being here. it is a privilege and an honor to be at aie today and talk in depth about esa's. if we think about what the federal government can do to advance some of these options, i think he really struck the right tone. as much as we want to advance school choice, this is quintessentially the state and local issue, and we are seeing states do amazing work. i want to cover some of the ways we are seeing families use these accounts. it starts to develop in the esa space, how families are using them. did they use them like a traditional school vouchers?
do they use them in a way that is distinct and unique. from what we can tell so far, and it is still relatively new, they are using them in an interesting manner. a couple data points, governor bush mentioned the size of the gardener scholarship program, which is florida's esa option. they have, i think, 10,500 kids. they are using esa's in that program. kids with special needs, getting about $10,000, roughly, per year. we were able to look at data provided -- we were able to look at how families were using their gardener scholarship accounts. at the friedman foundation for educational choice still has a big report coming out in
february on how families are using them. it has been fascinating to see in florida. florida's esa options have been around since 2014, a pretty new option. right out of the gate, parents are using those accounts to fully customize their child's educational experience. we looked at how parents are using those accounts in the past two years, and about 40% over those two years are using their accounts to customize. you hire a private tutor, buy textbooks, curricula. you can roll it into a college savings account. our parents actually doing that? in florida, about 40% of families are customizing with
their esa's. in that short amount of time from 2014 forward, they've figured out how to totally create an a la carte system for their kids. but are they actually customizing, or using it as a voucher and sort of just buying a textbook? we delved into those numbers, and of the 40% who are customizing, half of them don't set foot in a brick and mortar school at all. they are truly a la carte customizers, hiring private tutors, doing an online class here and there. it is a completely do-it-yourself education that is perfectly tailored to the needs of each individual child. those are amazing for us to see. it follows similar work that my colleagues have done in arizona. it was the first state to establish an esa option.
thanks to a former colleage they were first out of the gate. we looked at families there, wanting to know how they were getting use these accounts. not quite as robust, but similar numbers of families using their accounts to craft an a la carte educational experience. how families are handling every dollar in their account. the fact that we know this, that we know how families are using every penny in their esa is just a breathtaking level of transparency and accountability. that is something that has been easy to figure out, working with administrators and states. particularly in florida, when nat was talking with governor bush a moment ago, something he mentioned was spot on. even if you get an esa option in
the state, too often it is folks who might have multiple allegiances. they might see the day-to-day operations of the school system. even if they are in favor of the option, it might not be the first thing on their mind. florida did something critical, helping to manage that with a nonprofit. that is something that other states have started to learn from. also, before i handed over to adam -- before i hand it over to adam, while we largely agree that these should be examined at the state and local level, there are a few things that are appropriate on the federal level. it is an exciting time to think about it. probably the best opportunity we've ever had to advance education choice for some of these populations.
the first i would mention would be military families. children from military families across the country, we know that 35% of active duty families have thought about leaving military service altogether because of the district schools to which their child would be assigned when they get assigned to their next station. that is not only a policy issue, it is a national security issue. the federal government does provide for not only the national defense, but the education of children from military families. inking about how we can modernize the existing dollars we have to have that funding function more like the g.i. bill, and empower military families with esa's would be a huge step forward. same with children from the bureau of indian affairs schools.
the third that i would add is the final -- the district of columbia. kids in d.c. should have access to universal esa's. there are things at the federal level that can and should happen, and i hope we see them happen moving forward. >> great, thanks, lindsey. and thanks, gerard and nat for bringing this together. it was great working on that book with you. if you ever want to make a lot of money, write a book about an esoteric part of education policy. it just comes pouring in. [laughter] that's your retirement plan, right? the beauty of writing about education policy is that it came out last year, and even in that year, things have changed dramatically. in 2017, there were bills filed
in over 20 states, lawsuits, petitions. a lot of the fun things you think of when you think of state-level education policy. esa's are a good embodiment of that. how are they different from vouchers? the first way is you don't have to spend it at a public school. it empowers students to find the right option for customized education, a private school, get speech therapy, english and math online and get the rest at home. it is a customized education. the second reason is that unlike traditional scholarship programs, esa's are not use it or lose it. it. the voucher program, you can
usually get $7,000 for private tuition, whatever is left. private schools start charging $7,000. if they charge one penny less, they would not -- see those savings. with esa's, when you have the difference between a $6,000 or $7,000 tuition price, that's a thousand dollars that can go towards tutoring. roll over for a future use there is a real economies edition -- a real economization. there's a number of different ways. they are, at their heart, funding reform. let them go to the place that is the best fit for them. obviously, i am optimistic. i will layout my reasons. the first is i think that the customization piece allows esa's to create new education models
we have not even thought of yet. there's this idea -- and if you start a business, you have an idea for a business, you probably would not start that business with a $2 million facility, two dozen employees before you have a customer. that is how we structure education in america. the weight esa's work, if i have an interesting idea, i can charge parents $100 per session, or do it for free, or charge 10 kids -- that's money that i can use to create an education for those kids. word-of-mouth spreads and it doubles their enrollment. they kind of slowly snowball until you can cut things out. it lets you make small adjustments to education. you are adjusting in real time. more micro schooling, quasi-schooling co-ops.
they blur the line between private school, home school, online school. it is usually top-down innovation, but we all know that innovation comes from a thousand people making thousands choices on the ground. another thing i wanted to mention that i was optimistic about, a problem that needs to be solved, the creation of the market. with an esa, you have 10 times as many options, 10,000 times as many options as a brick-and-mortar school. what will we do to help parents say, i have a child that is this age, i want them to go to a catholic school with the soccer team, etc.. where can parents go to find these things, aspects to really tailored to the needs of the child. i think some of what john is doing is really getting to that.
i think the ability to have parents customize creates the need for an online one-stop marketplace, which is something that jonathan and his team are creating. it creates a new way of creating accountability. we talk about that a lot in education. i think we have pushed the next generation of accountability. show of hands, how many of you have used yelp, google, tripadvisor. to go to a new area? 90% of the audience? how many of you have gone to the city's health department to see if the restaurant passed its health inspection? this is kind of how we think of accountability. we have the government create a lot of reports, and we hope people look at them and it drives their behavior. actually, health departments in some states are being smart.
they are going to -- they partner with yelp to post the government information out there, to put it at the source where people are looking for that information. the people who go to yelp, they are not not afraid of foodborne illness. they realize that if you are going to a place with four stars or five stars, you won't leave but the bug. -- you probably won't leave with a bug. columbia university announced a partnership with -- and they were able to create an out the rhythm with high specificity to scrape all the comments off of yelp and identify where foodborne illnesses are most likely to be detected. and a model that looked at past city health department reviews, looked at yelp data, and be able to pinpoint within 80% whether or not a restaurant is likely to be in violation of health. what this tells you about education is that what people's experiences is a strong indicator of quality.
we should stop not trusting parents to make these decisions for their kids. if you ask parents what they want in terms of accountability, what they want most to guide their decision their first , answer is we want to know what other parents have had to say. we want to know what teachers in that school have had to say. they want information in the school building. when so much of what we do is report what schools do, we do not allow space for what they've done for other people. that is a new way of accountability, to use esa by attaching it at the point of sale. when parents are searching for schools, have that information for them so they can see of themselves. lastly, i will touch on something that i think governor bush mentioned. did, also.indsey the problem we need to solve in this movement is the take it or
leave it mentality we have, where we go in there with the program we will fund for kids and we say, we give you $.50 on the and we say thank you for dollar. giving us half of what you give the public schools. when in reality, the opposite should be true. esa should be the model for how we renew education in america. make it student-based. get a base amount, and extra for student with a disability, and english-language learner. create student-based funding that does not take these weird, archaic funding systems. if you go to any state, only three people know how it works. they roll the dice and hope it will work. actually create real funding reform where we are funding , individual children and let them go to the school of their choice. let's stop looking at a public school system, as a way to make it 90% of what they do. they could be the model for public schools. one other thing i would say is that esa's are very hard to implement compared to vouchers.
when you go from cutting a check to a school to empowering a parent with $10,000 that could go to a number of restricted uses, that is one of the biggest challenges with esa policy. i think the stuff that they are -- i think the stuff that jonathan and his team is doing is going to solve a lot of that. jonathan: thank you. like gerard mentioned, my name is jonathan beckham and i work with step up for students. we are a nonprofit based in the state of florida. scholarshipr programs not just in the state of florida, but across the country. as part of that, we administer programs both in the tax credit, traditional tuition-as-fee based scholarships, as well as esa programs like we have talked about today. the gardener scholarship fund in aboutate of florida has 10,000 students in it. it equates to about $10 million in reimbursements. i say reimbursements, because that is how we administer the program.
we have a lot of challenges and opportunities in the way we can help families and administrators of this program maintain a high quality program. from the parents' side, the program works like this. money is deposited into an account. they can use that money to go in search for products and services on their own. once they find those products and services, they are taking money out of pocket and purchasing them. at that then they are going point, through and seeking reimbursement. if we think about that, there's a lot of opportunities. number one, a couple issues we talked about already is finding , high quality services and providers to help those families. number two, pulling money out of pocket, from anybody's perspective, can be difficult. but for low income families as well. number three, the tedious process to go out and get receipts and take pictures of
them and fill out forms and seek reimbursement. we can think of 10,000 students and $100 million, but what we are really talking about is 100,000 reimbursements. for 150,000 products and services they have to utilize. from a scalability standpoint, in order to maintain such a high quality and integrity for the program, we are going through and ensuring we look at every single line item. those purchases for those product and services meet acceptable use policies for those. in order to scale a program such as this to a larger size, that can be challenging. gerard mentioned i work with technology with step up for students. my role is using technology to accelerate and augment our mission and help families make better educational decisions. as part of that, what we are doing is creating a platform called my scholar shop. it is the largest online marketplace for esa's.
we teamed up with two great companies to do them. let me unpack them until you what that means. from a family's perspective it is like an amazon shopping experience. i can log on to this private marketplace, see thousands of products and services that are preapproved for acceptable use for my program. i can click in to those products and get detailed information and availability. i can add it to my shopping cart and checkout using my esa funds directly. it is a real game changer from a family perspective. when we talk about some of those opportunities, all of a sudden i can find great products and services i could get for my students. i do not have to pay out-of-pocket. i can use mine esa funds directly to purchase those. from an administrative standpoint, this platform handles everything on the back end. it sends the order to the supplier receives the invoice, , makes the payments, without the need for families to fill out detailed forms or save
receipts. on the administrative side you can think of the scalability issue we talked about earlier. this allows us to scale at a much larger than we have in the past. -- we are no longer looking at every receipt uploaded. we are looking at the approving and white listing products and services that are high-quality that can be useful for our families. the other thing we are excited about from this platform is some other things folks have touched on. how do you look at accountability and traceability? how do you look at transparency and giving more information to families? we are incorporating verified ratings and reviews from families into this platform. it allows families to go through and not just rate schools and instructional materials and technology, also service providers and therapist, putting it at the point-of-sale when they need it. we are excited about using that platform to help inform our families and let them make
better-informed decisions. in summary, at step up for students we are looking to , create the largest online marketplace for esa's in the country and creating a platform that allows our parents to make better-informed decisions. thank you. >> great. you heard the phrase "last but not least." [laughter] it don't apply here. distinguished panelists, it is a pleasure to be here with you. i call gerard a leader among leaders, and a dear friend, and a mentor in a lot of ways. in every form. bush, the aura is still around the room. long time respected his work. really a forerunner for the work we have done in north carolina. last but not least, aei. occasionally, i will catch on c-span an aei showing, and i
have a lot of respect for the work here from afar. job, i am also on the unc board of governors and work with great leaders on that board. we have a marvelous president, former secretary of education. margaret spellings. they were very smart out the gate because they hired a sharp, young guy andrew kelly. ,he helped lead strategic initiatives. i've heard recently, we've been working with him, aei has risen in respect levels from our standpoint. again my name is darrell , allison. president of parents for educational freedom in north carolina. i am happy you let this country boy come up here to be with you today. we are talking about parental school choice.
i was just thinking about our journey. we started our organization in 2005, so gerard is right. we've only been around for a little while, going on 13 years. the first five or six years of that work was just in the communities. we did not even think about going to raleigh, didn't think about forming policy. we wanted to be connected with communities, get an understanding of what the families were like, the problems, etc.. i can say because of that work from 2011, we really skyrocketed. you would be hard-pressed to find another state that has been able to do the kinds of things we have done. three separate private school measures. we worked on the [indiscernible] just a little bit of context here 2011, in north carolina, we asad our first challenge relates to public charter schools. a had an arbitrary cap of
100. and for the first time, we had hit that cap. we could not have another public charter school unless the general assembly, unless legislation was passed. ofthe time we hit the cap 100. north carolina has 100 counties in state, so we hit the cap at 100. they only existed in 37 counties of the and of those 100 public 100. charter schools in 37 counties, we had over 30,000 families on the waiting list. thethose 100 slots for public charter schools. so, it was a real impetus, a real purpose for us to get to work. that's the thing, it is purpose driven. i get school choice, but really understanding the community, taking what these smart folks -- these think tankers -- i am the
-- really driving it. 2011, we not only lifted the cap, we thought, why don't we raise it for another 100? we were able to eliminate the cap on public charter schools. in 2011 we eliminated the cap we , have seen nearly 75% growth of public charter schools. in 37 counties, we are now in 61. we still have a long way to go, because there's 100 counties in north carolina. we have the opportunity scholarship program. you all are familiar with that. you hear in d.c., low income, working class families. the thing is, as an organization, we were always looking at data not from allies, but from public instruction. that information is public, and we really wanted to make the case. you look at the income threshold -- we all know, the kind of kids
that are lowest performing, they are low income kids. and thanks to florida, we through f grading systems. low income families are the ones who mostly populated the "d" and "f" schools. we really made the case and in 2013, we were able to pass the opportunity scholarship program, and this year, we are expecting over 10,000 children to be utilizing that program. we did not stop there. not only did we eliminate the cap, but we passed in 2011 our very private school measure. firstthat is the children with disabilities act. in north carolina we have 1.5 million children in traditional public schools, but one quarter of a million of them are children with significant disabilities, significant disabilities who have no other , options. we thought -- and it really connected with our citizens of
north carolina, special needs agencies and organizations -- we worked together and were able to pass our first congress measure for children with disabilities. it lays out the dollars for that program. it has been very popular, but we still have had challenges. last year, the passage of the special needs esa. it is a new program with purpose. what we found is that the children with disabilities and those families, $8,000 sounds like a lot, but we get it. it really costs to fund that education, particularly for children with more severe disabilities. you may have been getting $10,000 for $12,000 from the public school system and still not meeting the need. it is a conundrum. what we were able to do, three separate programs, we became the
sixth state in the nation to pass this program. we made all three programs stackable. yes, we passed the opportunity scholarship program, that is $4200. we passed the special needs and disability grants, $8,000. and another $9,000. , we have families right now that, this coming fall, are going to have up to $21,200 to utilize to help their child with more significant disabilities. threepoints on esa's, critical areas of the relates to north carolina. it gives context as we are moving forward. administrative ease for family. children with disabilities grand, a challenge we had is that it was refundable reimbursement. ,this idea you have to pay now
and wait later. if you have the money to do that, it is fine. if you are squeezing pennies, it is challenging. with the esa program, we removed that barrier. and allowed the debit option for those families. second, eliminating financial hardship for families. you talk about families of children with disabilities, in a lot of cases, you are talking about a college tuition price point. with the stackability, that has limited problems, we believe. lastly, eliminating the either/or view of education. what was important for us as an organization, we understand that private school measures -- the child is leaving the public school system and entering the private school system. what we wanted to do is try to change that. especially with esa, you may be
mother or father getting 80% or 90% of what you need. what about the 10% to 20%? for this program in north carolina, a part-time student at a public school can also be a part-time student at a private school and still be eligible for the program. that is important for me personally. this opens up the idea of customization. at the university level you can see high schools working with community college. high school kids getting associates degrees before they walk across the line with their diploma. we've seen community college working with the university system, using an associate degree to get a four-year degree. what i'm hoping is that for the first time in many cases, children with disabilities, whether it be therapy or publicg, to leave that school or private school, i am hoping you see the kind of connectivity among schools that
primarily have defenses and barriers. and it stimulates that kind of interaction so we can really open the door for customization. again my name is darrell , allison, it is great to be with you. back to you, gerard. gerald: thank you. you can see we have four very smart people who have seen this area as important. first question is for lindsey, and also for adam. both of you have access to lawmakers on the federal and state level. you use research and other data to inform the conversation. for the audience both present and viewing, tell us a few things you hear from lawmakers who say, yes, i love esa's and here's why. but i also want to hear from those who say they don't like them. what are there reasons? lindsey you hear a lot of the traditional push back that you get with the voucher option, school choice, generally. the folks that are skeptical, the special interest groups and in particular you hear that
, esa's are no different in that regard. you hear things like "super voucher." as the governor said, maybe, is that a bad thing? we get the traditional push back. you also get questions about the mechanics of it. everybody went through that really well, the unique nature of an esa. there will be a bit of a learning curve with how esa's function. y different not wholl from other aspects of our lives. insurance have health accounts. you are going to yelp, all of these options where we expect customization down to such a granular level. being able to transition that into an education space that has been monopoly-dominated for 150
years, it is going to take some time. it is a matter of walking folks through that walking policy , makers through the process. parents are incredibly savvy consumers. most every parent you meet. they are all experts in the needs of their own kids. they are so good they will call , private schools, and ask, what options do you have? what are your teachers like, do you have extracurriculars, what are the afterschool programs, is my child going to be safe, what are the academics, what about graduation rates? als in talk to princip private schools and choice based areas, they know immediately if it is a parent calling who has access to a voucher or an esa. because they will have a checklist of what they are looking at that school. it is about making the case that parents are savvy. that we are going to get far better information from these
market-based feedback mechanisms than we have ever gotten from this assignment by zip code monopoly system. and then just walking them through the mechanics. >> for the people who don't like it, it is the same reason they don't like taxpayer scholarships or vouchers. yesterday or two days ago somebody posted on twitter and article from 1999 about this burgeoning school choice movement, and it could have been written today. all the arguments were the same, all the proponents, opponents, the same arguments. it just a number of kids have changed. one thing i find interesting -- i talk about the economization of this. if you don't use the $1000, it rolls over. a lot of states allow you to roll that over. if you have any money at the end of your high school experience, you can use it for college, which is a real cost-conscious way of doing these things. in some states, the people hate that more than anything because they think it is not fair that some people can save for college and others can't. my response is, if you can find a way to do it in the public system, in the charter system,
so be it. it is that economization thing people both alike and -- both like and have questions about. it is a new framework of thinking about education, and honestly, it is what people do every day. the crazy thing is that we allow people who could not otherwise afford it to do it also. i think people like it for the customization. it takes the argument away from public versus private, which is how some any of these arguments go. if you are for vouchers you can be for public schools. in reality all this is doing is , funding a child. if they want to go to public schools, private schools, online, they can do it there. it is really just educational funding reform, and people really like and dislike that aspect. >> jonathan, when we started the choice movement going back to the 1990's, part of the sale was that public schools could learn from what we are doing in the
choice sector. you spoke eloquently about the role of technology, what you are doing to step up for students. what are some a-ha moments in the work you are doing with technology that traditional public schools can borrow from as it relates to customization ideas? when we talk about esa 's in general we are talking about the unbundling of services that we get. i think from the traditional public schools, kids going to a traditional school all day and taking courses there. as governor bush mentioned, what is wrong with the student going to an expert in the morning to learn spanish, and going somewhere else in the afternoon to learn to play sports? i think even aside from a technology piece, that transcends into what we see in public education. from the technology piece, the great thing about this platform that we have been talking about
is that we are going to be able to have a lot of data and trends around what is happening with students in different areas. all the products and services they are utilizing, their ratings and reviews around them, and even looking at outcomes from the families. all of that data is not just data we can think of educational reform data or private school data, this is data we can share with everybody in the public school sector. they can help us to look at better products and services. they can help anybody in education. i think that is the trend that i see that i think will help not just people in the private school for choice movement, but anyone working for education. >> it is a good point. do-tank world. [laughter] you really know pulse of real people who have real challenges. you bring up the issue of disability. most people overlook the fact that a lot of the tax credits
offer students with special needs. what can we take from your work on how to encourage parents to not only be involved, but also be the best advocates for this movement themselves? it is really not difficult. it is just work. it is non-sexy work. for the first four or five years, we were getting to know the community. it is a big state. 9 million people. i promise you -- [indiscernible] eriod i droveyear p close to 157,000 miles. hondad on me, went to heaven. [laughter] darrell: but it is hard work.
people know when you are doing it with them and when you are trying to do it for them. and the second part of that is to put a face to the case. we get it here. we are geniuses. when you mix it with the heart, with the passion, coupled with purpose, and directed to people, they get it. we were very aware of public charter schools, very aware of vouchers, esa's, if you will. but because we understood the community -- we are not coming here just to manipulate them in some way -- we were able to, from 2011 to the present, take some things we observed florida was doing, customize it to the people of north carolina. because they know you, because we've been there before.
it was really organic, hard work, but it pays off in the long run. we all have a job to do, and i just -- i think it opens up the door to allow for more mothers -- for more of the mamas and papas to talk. you sit down and take notes and build that report -- rapport. 60,000+ families that we work with throughout the state. we have liaisons. there was apparent panel -- there was a parent panel. one of the best speakers was from north carolina, part of the network.
a single-parent mom doing a wonderful job trying to help make sure her two boys get the education they need. one of them will benefit from the stackability of all three programs. she will have $21,000 for her , because we connected with her. now she is empowering us because she is empowering other parents. she has a story and can walk them through what it takes to help them get the tools to achieve the american dream for their children. >> you make a good point about the money. and to what adam said, these are funds that people have invested into the system and getting access to it. i'm going to play the heavy. we are close to the end, but i would at least like to give a couple people the opportunity to ask a question. in the back, we have a mic here.
i will choose one person on this side. i have one person on the back at this side. ask your question to a particular person. he or she can answer. once we end, most of us will stay here. you can follow up. i will start on this end. it has got to be quick. there is one of p her. just state your name and organization. thank you, i am frederick king, fourth year from georgia for an intern program. , my question is for darrell. the university of georgia is in one of the poorest counties in the state of georgia other than clark county. a bunch of parents are working two or three jobs for their -- to help their children get by and save up so their children can have a better life than they did. my question for you is with all thisthese programs, $21,000 you were talking about,
how do you work with giving these parents the time to get as involved as we would want them to be? how do you work with giving parents the time as well as the money? >> thank you. i will take a question here. >> i wish i could ask each panelist. i guess, adam. my question is this. we talk about the unbundling. we know the necessity of that in order for parents to have a true market. to what degree is your grand vision of esa's rely on every public school segmenting and unbundling their offerings, so parents have true access to the whole marketplace, as opposed to just these adjunct services in the private market, to whatever degree they are micro schools. i'm talking about, can you see a pathway to a traditional public schools actually turning their
school offerings? host: we will start with darrell first. tothe largest school dressed county.tate is weighed for the third consecutive year, they've had more enrollment of non-traditional students. home school, charter school, private school then public school. so this opportunity, fought very hard to win this because their challenge now, they are forced to have to maneuver. it is almost like negotiation. i hate to say it but the pressure is real. you kind of want that going in as opposed to reaching an and forcing them.
let the families show them and then they will follow. >> i would say, i am of the believe that we raise money for education so the child can be educated. we don't raise money for schools. it would be crazy of every scholarship went to a particular school. i think the way the public schools respond to choices interesting. and arizona, my former colleague found data. foruse open enrollment charter schools and other things, the county of maricopa, about half of the students are theg to a school other than zone for their school. you kind of the hollywood of arizona, scottsdale. they are not actively recruiting kids. that is a complete mind shift. there and say,ut come to us. don't go to that charter or
private school. i think it is changing the way public schools respond to incentives. >> one day we will be at the point where choice is the default position for every single kid. eventually we will get there, where from day one entering kindergarten. that point,to traditional district schools, every provider will have no choice but to honor this. we will get there. of florida, on our programs we contract with public schools for different programs. it is not just a private , >>ider, public provider are you on the --
aboutthis is really support. savings account does not make you anti-public schools. there are many different ways of letting to the end. thank you for your time. let's give around of applause to all of our -- [applause] [indiscernible chatter] announcer: our guest on newsmakers this weekend it is a congressman from virginia. as chair of the house judiciary
committee, he plays a key role on it immigration and fbi oversight. he talks about the school shooting in florida. majorh time we have a tragedy like this, i have my committee communicate with law enforcement at the fbi level and local level together information so we can look at what might be done. i think most things that need to be done relate to laws already in existence. obviously we need to do more. almost all of these mass shootings involve mental illness. we need to do more to make sure people are getting treatment but also that people who are in these situations are not getting access to guns or when they act out they are promptly reported so somebody can get assistance to them rather than get to a circumstance like what we have
seen. i am a strong advocate for enforcing the hundreds of federal and thousands of state and local gun laws on the books. there has been an uptick in this administration. i commend the justice department for making this a higher priority. i think more can be done to make when people lie on instant check forms or do other things to purchase firearms that they are not entitled under the law to have because they have a mental health condition or because they have a criminal conviction, much more can be done. announcer: watch newsmakers tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 -- eastern on c-span. onouncer: c-span's history supreme court decisions,
landmark cases. tomorrow, exploring a case with associate professor of the university of virginia and a law professor from the university of arkansas. cases" or listen on the free c-span radio app. live on monday, february 26, at 9:00 p.m.. for an additional resource, there is a link on our website to the national constitution center's interactive constitution. >> last year, randolph alles became the 26th director of the secret service. he recently spoke at the atlanta press club about combating crimes. w