Rethinking and Reimagining Learning – Education Freedom Makes its way to West Virginia

Last week, West Virginia made history by passing the most expansive and inclusive education freedom policy in the country. HB 2013, which passed the full legislature, expands the state’s Hope Scholarship Program to potentially include 100% of students in the state by 2026. This means that every student in the state will be able to access a scholarship equaling the prior year’s average state aid per-pupil, currently set at $4,600. Parents may also utilize this funding for a variety of learning expenses including tuition, tutoring, testing fees, transportation costs, educational services and therapies, and more.

West Virginia is poised to join five other states with education savings account (ESA) programs including Florida, Arizona, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee. At the program’s outset, only students currently enrolled in a public school will be eligible to participate. This means that over 90% of students could immediately apply for a Hope Scholarship starting in 2022, making the Hope Scholarship Program the most inclusive in the country. If less than 5% of the eligible student population fails to enroll in the program by mid-2024, then the scholarships will become available to every single student in West Virginia in mid-2026.

In addition to HB 2016, West Virginia also passed HB 2012, which expands the number of charter schools permitted to operate in the state, creates a statewide virtual charter school, and creates virtual charter schools at the county-level. Combined with HB 2016, West Virginia is taking the critical first steps toward more effective, efficient, and accountable schools that provide every child, family, and community with an exceptional education. By rethinking and reimagining the current education system, West Virginia has created the opportunity for every child to succeed.

To learn more about how to bring these policies to your state, check out ALEC’s model policies, the Education Savings Account Act and Next Generation Charter Schools Act, which are based on the language found in these laws.