The Georgia legislature is back in session, and school choice is likely to be a front and center issue. As we look to build off past school-choice successes in Georgia, a key priority will be to see Educational Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) become a reality.
Along these lines, a new national poll from EdChoice has some great news: Americans pick ESAs as their preferred K-12 educational choice option. This news comes at a great time for parents across Georgia who desperately need more options for their children.
ESAs are an innovative way for parents to pay for non-public educational options for their children (kids like Seth). ESAs allow parents to direct the money the state would have spent on their child to things like tuition, tutors, adaptive technology, therapy, and curriculum to truly customize an education that best meets each child’s needs.
These new survey results show that ESAs have the highest support among K-12 educational choice options (including majority support among public school teachers). Support for ESAs has risen from 64 percent in 2013 to 74 percent in 2018. In addition, the survey reveals across-the-board growing support for other school-choice options. Here are some of the highlights:
- Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents support school vouchers, compared to one out of three (30 percent) who oppose them.
- Two out of three Americans (66 percent) express support for tax-credit scholarships, compared to about one in four (24 percent) who oppose them.
- Six out of 10 Americans (61 percent) say they support public charter schools, while 29 percent say they oppose charters.
- Compared to two years ago, nearly twice as many parents say they have taken on another job or changed jobs in order to support their children’s K-12 education.
The entire team at Georgia Center for Opportunity will be hard at work in 2019 to see ESAs pass in the state legislature. The time is ripe for Georgia to become the seventh state nationally to make ESAs available!
It may surprise you to learn that data from the U.S. Census data show that just 2.4 percent of those who work full-time year-round live in poverty. In contrast, 14 percent of those who did work—but not full-time, and not year-round—were in poverty, and fully 32 percent of those who did not work at all lived in poverty.
Surprisingly, these numbers are nothing new. Economist Lawrence Mead noted in his book From Prophesy to Charity: How to Help the Poor that the poverty rate in 2009 for those who worked at least a 35-hour work week for 50 weeks of the year was just 3 percent. Mead summarizes: “The lion’s share of adult poverty is due, at least in the first instance, to low working levels.”
Clearly, the key to escaping poverty isn’t merely raising wages, as important as that might be. It’s full-time (or close to full-time) work. And one of the key ways to help our neighbors escape poverty is straightforward and simple: help them get job training, land a stable job, and advance into higher paying positions over time.
To this end, we are proud of the impressive results flowing out of our workforce initiative, Hiring Well, Doing Good (HWDG). By breaking down the key barriers to full-time employment—lack of education and job skills—HWDG connects local employers and community leaders with job seekers to provide valuable training that leads to stable, good paying jobs that lift people out of poverty and break the cycle of generational poverty and government dependency.
We believe that the best solutions to problems are at the local level. And we believe that the reason HWDG is the most effective job placement program in Georgia is because it moves beyond political grandstanding and offers a real solution to the core problem—the need for sustainable jobs.
In our booming economy, there’s little reason for those who want to work to remain mired in poverty. Job initiatives like HWDG give motivated individuals a second chance and much-needed on-the-job training to get a solid job that leads to a life of dignity and thriving.