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.
What We’re Working On
Expansion of Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program Would Help Thousands of Students
In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson writes about a proposal to nearly double the donation limit for Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program. The proposal would increase the program’s budget by $100 million and the income eligibility limit to $95,000. Further, the bill contains a provision that would allow the program’s budget cap to increase by 10 percent each year if 90 percent of the tax credits are claimed in the preceding year. This budgetary expansion would help provide thousands more Pennsylvania families with a greater opportunity to meet the unique education needs of their children.
Energy & Environment
Brief Details Why Carbon Dioxide Tax is Bad Idea
In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson examines a report from the Institute for Energy Research detailing why a carbon dioxide tax is bad public policy. The brief notes the tax is arbitrary, regressive, and politically unpalatable. Carbon dioxide taxes would make all goods and services more expensive and have an insignificant effect on reducing global carbon dioxide emissions.
Virginia Medicaid Expansion Exceeds Costs
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans discusses the rapidly rising cost of Virginia’s Medicaid program and how Medicaid expansion is exacerbating the problem. “States can request waivers for many kinds of positive reforms, including the implementation of payment enforcement mechanisms to encourage cost-sharing, such as co-pays; reforms to allow states to deploy incentives for enrollees to engage in healthy behaviors; the creation of time limits on coverage; and the creation of monthly income verification and eligibility renewals,” wrote Glans.
Budget & Tax
Progressive Income Tax Would Doom Illinois
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans and State Government Relations Manager Lennie Jarratt describe why Illinois should not switch from a flat tax to a progressive tax system. “Instead of focusing only on the tax revenue side of the equation, lawmakers should focus on fixing the structural issues on the spending side. This is where the real problem lies and where the long-term fiscal health of the state can be shored up,” wrote Glans and Jarratt.
From Our Free-Market Friends
Minimum Wage: The High Cost of Increasing Minimum Wage in Wisconsin to $15
Wisconsin may soon become the next state to adopt a $15 minimum wage. Democratic politicians and activists have successfully pushed for this wage in California, Illinois, and Massachusetts. Currently, two out of five Wisconsin workers earn less than $15 an hour. Unfortunately, one-third of these workers (350,000) stand to lose their jobs if the state raises its minimum wage. The researchers estimate those in the bottom 10 percent of income distribution would suffer half of all job losses. A better solution to the poverty problem would be to expand the state’s existing Earned Income Tax Credit, which has increased labor demand and boosted workers’ take-home pay.
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