Real Stories from Around the Nation

Individualized Education Accout (IEA) programs are helping families across the nation. Like Tennessee, Nevada and Mississippi passed similar programs (education savings accounts) during the 2015 legislative session. Florida and Arizona’s  programs (Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts and Empowerment Scholarship Accounts) have already opened doors for thousands of children and families by giving them access to dynamic educational options.

Here are just a handful of remarkable stories from families currently benefiting from similar programs in other states. See how access to choice changed their lives.

Kendall and Whitney Smith

The TN IEA is going to make a huge difference in their lives helping Kendall thrive in the best environment for her.


Kathy Visser and son Jordan, AZ

“I am seeing children [who] are blossoming that were not [doing well] in the traditional system… that’s accountability.”

  • Jordan has several impairments, including cerebral palsy, dyslexia, vision impairment, and motor/sensory processing disorders.
  • Kathy learned about Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts from a lawyer she hired in her frustrating fight to get the district to provide her son appropriate services.
  • The Vissers use their Empowerment Scholarship Account to customize education with physical therapy, tutoring from a certified reading specialist, piano lessons, software for learning at home, classes at a local science center, and social skills camp.

Julie Kleffel and daughter Faith, FL

Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts “empower moms and dads of students with disabilities with the flexibility to create education plans custom-made for their children.”

  • Faith has Down syndrome and regressed when her public special education class doubled in size, leaving less time for individual attention.
  • The Kleffels use their Personal Learning Scholarship Account to pay for a tutor, special shoe inserts, a curriculum, and speech and occupational therapies—vital services Julie otherwise could not afford.
  • When Faith was born, her doctor was unsure if she would ever be able to sit up by herself. With the great progression she’s made through opportunities afforded to her by an IEA, Faith can now walk three miles, speak in full sentences, and interact in groups.

Holland Hines and son Elias, AZ

“For the first time in 10 years… Elias is able to complete an entire week at school… without any meltdowns and with more academic and behavioral progress than we have seen in his entire life.”

  • Elias has autism, and his aptitude varies by subject. For example, he taught himself to play Tchaikovsky on piano, but has behavioral issues and trouble expressing himself.
  • After trying several different approaches, Holland found a private school that specializes in teaching children with autism with one-on-one education in the morning, group classes to develop social skills, and electives like robotics, karate, and piano.
  • Amazed by the doors an Empowerment Scholarship Account has opened for her son, Holland helped start a parent message board. Now, about 270 scholarship account families use it to stay informed and learn from each other.


To learn more about these families and others, read The Wall Street Journal’s Allysia Finley’s Parents and Providers Speak Up.


Apply for an IEA here.

Contact the IEA team via email.

Telephone: (615) 253-3781.
Receive important IEA updates by subscribing here.