Lots of kids would thrive in career or technical education (CTE) but are currently in schools that do not meet their needs. Many of these students are fortunate to have free public options available. That’s not true everywhere, but Education Savings Accounts (ESAs, known as Hope Scholarships) can make such opportunities affordable across the state.
For example, in Raleigh County, kids from Beckley can enroll in The Academy of Careers and Technology essentially for free. And in Ohio County, the Wheeling Park Patriots have a lot of school spirit as they work and play. But many counties do not offer full CTE schools, or the schools do not offer CTE in professions that fit a particular child’s passions.
That’s where Hope Scholarships can come in. When a student will do better outside of a traditional public school, their parent can apply to have some of the education funding for their child available for education outside of that school.
Let’s say your daughter has a passion for animals and wants to become a veterinarian. She wants to learn enough English, math, science, and social science to be well educated and ready for vet school, but she wants to spend lots of time with shelter animals and needs to be on call at unusual times of day. The local high school just won’t do.
So, instead, you can contract with tutors who can work with your daughter’s schedule. And you can contract with a local private school to provide some of the courses you can’t easily teach or provide at home.
These arrangements cost money. With a Hope Scholarship, you can pay the tutors, you can pay the private school, and her original district school still gets to keep some of the public funding to spend on the children still enrolled. Your daughter gets the core education she needs and the practical education she wants. It’s a win-win situation!
She’ll probably be a top candidate for vet school, ahead of the students who didn’t get so much direct experience with animals, and who cannot so credibly say they know they are suited for such a career.
Every student is unique, and there are a thousand other ways an ESA could play out for a student with unique passions and circumstances. Traditional public schools are set up to serve the thousands of students who are OK with normal educational models, but other thousands of kids could really use more options. And Hope Scholarships will help their parents afford them.
Adam Kissel is a Senior Fellow for the Cardinal Institute for WV Policy.