The Leaflet: U.S. Congressman Introduces Heartland’s Child Safety Accounts for DC Students

Published May 10, 2019

Tragic shootings and chronic bullying at schools over the past few years have forced parents, students, activists, and legislators to address this serious problem. So far, much of the debate has centered on increasing gun control and school security measures. However, The Heartland Institute’s solution is to expand freedom, not restrict it.

Child Safety Accounts (CSA), a unique reform touted by The Heartland Institute, would allow children experiencing bullying, harassment, or other forms of physical or emotional violence to easily transfer to another school—public, private, parochial, or virtual.

Under Heartland’s proposal, parents of victimized children would receive a debit card attached to a state-funded CSA that could be used for tuition, homeschooling, tutoring, and educational therapies, among other eligible educational expenses. Any CSA funds remaining at the end of the school year could be rolled over to the following school year. (The full brief on CSAs is  available here.)

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) introduced legislation to create CSAs in the public schools of Washington, DC, the only school district under congressional authority. Heartland also worked with Colorado state legislators to get a CSA bill introduced in the Colorado State House earlier in 2019, and CSA-style legislation has been considered in six other states so far this year: Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Nevada, West Virginia, and Virginia.

A new report published by the National Center for Education Statistics underscores the necessity of CSAs. The 2018 edition of Indicators of School Crime and Safety finds a little more than one in five students aged 12–18 reported being bullied at school in 2017, and 69 percent of those students reported being bullied multiple times. Another 15 percent reported being electronically bullied in 2017. Also, there were 827,000 total incidents of theft and nonfatal violent victimization on school grounds during the 2016–17 school year.

This is similar to the latest U.S. Department of Education report that surveyed all public schools in the country on school safety. The report found the number of serious incidents during the 2015–16 school year approached 1.1 million, including more than 800,000 physical attacks.

With these statistics in mind, it’s no wonder more than one-third of parents fear for their child’s safety at school, according to a survey by Phi Delta Kappa International, a professional organization for educators. Nor is it surprising twice as many low-income families question their child’s safety at school (48 percent) compared to affluent families (24 percent). 

CSAs level the playing field because they give all students the opportunity to attend a safe school of their choice, regardless of the financial circumstances of their parents or the ZIP code in which they reside.

Creating a CSA program would reduce school violence, thus allowing students to focus more on academics and less on their physical and emotional safety. Lawmakers everywhere should consider how to implement these and other pro-liberty reforms in their states.


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