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Kendall Cotton: Parents want educational freedom.columnist

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Of course, one education does not fit all students. The educational needs of students are as diverse and unique as the students themselves.

However, Montana’s education system was not always designed to accommodate the unique needs of its students. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Montana families are frustrated with the limited options available and are looking for new ways to provide quality education for their children.

As parents demand more choice, lawmakers can do so by giving families more freedom to choose the best education for their children.

There is no doubt that the demand for more educational options has reached an all-time high, with many parents choosing to home-school their children. Even after the pandemic began to subside, he had a whopping 9,868 students homeschooled in the 2020-2021 school year, or 6.1% of her total Montana enrollment. By contrast, that number he had just 5,743 in the 2018-2019 school year.

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But homeschooling isn’t the only educational option that has gained interest in recent years. In Montana, interest in funding innovative education options in both public and private schools has grown tremendously thanks to tax credit laws amended by the Montana Legislature in 2021.

Funding caps for public school innovation programs have been maxed out in a matter of minutes. Similarly, private school scholarship tax credit caps were quickly capped and closed in a matter of days. Earlier this year, the Department of Revenue sent an update to the Education Interim Board explaining that the Tax Credit Donation Guide had been downloaded 320,000 times by the end of 2021.

The interest in tax credits has also resulted in a surge in the number of private school scholarship organizations. When the landmark Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue case reached the Supreme Court in 2020, there was only one school scholarship organization, but as of January 2022, that number has grown to five. became.

It’s clear that individuals and businesses around Montana are responding to a huge demand to provide more diverse opportunities and choices for students.

Importantly, these educational options are helping to provide choices for students and families who would otherwise not have a choice. For example, one of the largest school scholarship organizations operating in Montana ACE Scholarships, which is one of them, only offers scholarships to students with a household income of $57,000 and a family of three or fewer.

Educational choices have rarely been an issue for wealthy families who could afford private school tuition, but programs like the Montana Education Tax Credit Scholarships are making the same opportunities available to less fortunate families. We provide

Parents in Montana have just tasted this educational freedom, but parents in other states have been realizing its benefits for years. Almost every state in the United States offers more educational options to students than Montana. 44 states allow innovative education options such as charter schools. Eight states have created education savings accounts. It allows parents to direct a portion of their student’s education costs toward paying for a variety of educational options, including private or public school tuition, tutoring, special study programs for students with learning disabilities, and education. A program that allows you to therapy, accelerated learning programs, and more.

Demand for education options is at an all-time high in Montana, but leaders have a lot of work to do to catch up with other states. Education should not be one-size-fits-all. Parents want more freedom of choice in their children’s education, and legislators should give them that.

Kendall Cotton is President and CEO of Frontier Institute. The Frontier Institute is a think tank dedicated to breaking down government barriers so that all Montanas can thrive.