Having the option to choose a new school may not be at the front of every parent’s mind, but it’s a serious concern when a child is being bullied. Earlier this month, the Heartland Institute, a think tank in Illinois, published a commentary on Missouri schools, citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found 23.3 percent (see Table 31) of Missouri students reported being bullied on school property. Heartland goes on to propose a Child Safety Account, a form of an education savings account (ESA) for families experiencing bullying. An ESA provides funds to students to attend a school of their choice, it could be public, charter, private, virtual, or can be used for other educational needs like support services. Specifically, a Child Safety Account would be an ESA for a student to receive funding for their education because of a safety or bullying issue at their assigned public school.
A similar initiative in Florida, the Hope Scholarship program, supports bullied students with vouchers and could serve up to 5,800 students. Education Savings Accounts provide an opportunity to give families educational options for a myriad of reasons, bullying included. As Show Me Institute writers have argued, all students should be able to choose an education option where they learn best, and Missouri should pursue ESAs to do just that.