It has now been three years since the Mississippi Legislature approved the establishment of education scholarship accounts (ESAs), however, the program does not appear to be truly taking effect.
Initially, the law called for allowing 500 new scholarships to be available every year, but this goal has never been reached.
Empower Mississippi President Grant Callen contends that even though the demand for the Mississippi education scholarship accounts (ESAs) has grown, the program has remained stagnant.
"So now there are 200-plus families on a waiting list who want access to these resources so they can plan the best education setting for their child,” Callen informed. “But the legislature hasn't grown the program."
He went on to point out that Empower Mississippi has started "Waitlisted," – a campaign designed to draw attention to the growing number of families with special needs students on a waiting list who are eager to take advantage of the ESA program.
"The legislature can solve this,” the pro-family leader asserted. “The legislature has within its power [the ability] to expand this program. It won't cost any new education dollars – this simply allows funds that are already appropriated to follow students to the best school that will meet their needs."
Callen also noted that the program has opponents who favor the status quo – those who do not see the need to provide students with school choice options.