NEPC’s February Education Interview of the Month Podcast Explores Education Savings Accounts

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Key Takeaway: NEPC Education Interview of the Month is a great teaching resource; engaging drive-time listening; and 30 minutes of high-quality policy information for educators, community members, policymakers, and anyone interested in education.

In February’s NEPC Education Interview of the Month, Greg Smith discusses Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) and school privatization with Oscar Jimenez-Castellanos of Arizona State University.

Along with Bill Mathis and Kevin Welner, Jimenez-Castellanos recently authored The State of Education Savings Account Programs in the United States, a policy brief assessing the education savings account strategy being used in a growing number of states to make it possible to use public funds to help pay for private education.

Smith and Jimenez-Castellanos discuss the key findings of the brief, including the lack of empirical evidence that ESAs are effective. Only one peer-reviewed study has been published, and it was theoretical in nature. ESA “research” has been dominated by organizations with a specific pro-ESA bias or perspective.

Overall, voucher research has found that academic performance by students in voucher programs does not increase. Both in ESAs and traditional vouchers, Jimenez-Castellanos contends, there are few accountability mechanisms. As a result, there is little data collected, and thus it is very difficult to evaluate the program’s effectiveness.

Along with a dearth of research, Jimenez-Castellanos’ concerns include “the impact ESAs will have on public education, the fact that there is no cap on ESA expansion, and ultimately, that public school students could be shortchanged in terms of funding, quality of programs, and services they receive.”

A new NEPC Education Interview of the Month, hosted by Gregory A. Smith, Lewis and Clark College Emeritus Professor of Education, will be released each month from September through May.

Don’t worry if you miss a month. All NEPC Education Interview of the Month podcasts are archived on the NEPC website and can be found here.

Coming Next Month

In March, Greg’s guest will be NEPC Fellow Warren Simmons, who will discuss factors that support or inhibit school and community transformation.

Stay tuned to NEPC for smart, engaging conversations about education policy.

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The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at:

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William J. Mathis

Greg Smith
Lewis and Clark College
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