Main menu


West Virginia Education Finds New Hope

featured image

W.The Est Virginia family won their case in court on Thursday when West Virginia’s Supreme Court of Appeals gave the green light to the new Hope Scholarship.

Great story. In early 2019, West Virginia did not have a school choice program. When Congress considered a restrictive school choice bill, teachers’ unions went on strike to block it. Later that summer, Congress approved open enrollment and just three charter schools. And now it’s 2021. The HOPE Scholarship Education Savings Account program in West Virginia, open to nearly every student in the state, was a crown jewel. Hope Scholarships allow families to use state education funds for a variety of eligible expenses, including tuition, tutoring, educational services and treatments.

West Virginia Supreme Court wins big in school selection

Parents like Katie Switzer have started planning how to use Hope to customize their children’s education. Her daughter has a speech delay, so Switzer planned to use the Hope Scholarship to choose the educational approach that best suited her unique needs. Opponents, however, sued her in January 2022, derailing the program. This was two months before the application window opened. The Institute of Justice stepped in to defend the program on behalf of Switzerland and another mother, Jennifer Compton.

The lawsuit is ongoing in court, but the state began accepting applications on March 1 and has received more than 3,000 by the May 16 deadline. Those applications were up in the air when a circuit court judge ruled the program unconstitutional in his July.

In August, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals agreed to expedite the appeal. Thursday’s decision to reverse the lower court’s decision and allow the Hope Scholarship Program to proceed was a huge relief to thousands of parents seeking new educational options for their children.

“Today’s action by the court is life-changing for my daughter and her peers across the state.” It opens the door to an education that is responsive, adaptable and welcoming.”

Parents don’t have to go it alone as they navigate this new and exciting educational environment. Earlier this year, parent Jamie Buckland launched West Virginia Families United for Education to provide guidance and support to parents. “We are here to have a guide to help families have quality options, know about them, and access them,” she explained. It will be key to transforming her K12 education in Mountain State.”

The tide has turned and parents will never go back to the days when district schools were the only option. While it is true that there will be obstacles along the way, it is clear that educational choices are the future.

Click here to read more about the Washington Examiner

Colleen Hroncich is a Policy Analyst for the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute.