After three consecutive years of massive progress expanding education freedom and choice, 2024 is shaping up to be another banner year.

This week, Missouri expanded its education choice policy and Nebraska adopted a new school choice policy. So far this year, five states have enacted new education choice policies or expanded existing ones, and several additional state legislatures are making significant progress on the issue.

Three years ago, Missouri lawmakers enacted the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts policy (MOScholars), which empowers families with the freedom to choose the schools and other learning environments that accord with their values and best meet their children’s learning needs.

Under the MOScholars program, low-income families and parents of students with special needs can receive scholarships worth $6,375 to spend on tuition, textbooks, tutoring, curriculum, educational therapy, transportation costs, and more.

On Thursday, the Missouri House of Representatives voted 82 to 69 in favor of a bill to expand MOScholars to more families. The bill needed 82 votes to pass, meaning that the support of three Democrats who crossed the aisle to support school choice proved crucial.

Sponsored by state Sen. Andrew Koenig, a Republican, SB 727 will expand eligibility for MOScholars from 200% to 300% of the federal poverty level, or from $62,400 to $93,600 for a family of four.

Until now, the children of a typical firefighter, police officer, or registered nurse in Missouri were not eligible, but they will be once Gov. Michael Parson signs SB 727 into law.

The bill had faced some headwinds from critics concerned that education choice policies like MOScholars would increase regulations on private and home schools. Those concerns are understandable, but misplaced. The lawmakers who designed the MOScholars policy made sure to include guardrails against regulatory creep.

The statute already stipulated that a private school that voluntarily accepts MOScholars funds from participating families “shall not be considered an agent of the state or federal government due to its acceptance of the payment” and “shall not be required to alter its creed, practices, admissions policy, or curriculum.”

The statute also makes clear that the policy “shall not be construed to permit any governmental agency to exercise control or supervision over any qualified school” in which a MOScholars student enrolls.

There was also some confusion about a line in the bill that defined a “home school” as a type of school for purposes of meeting the state’s compulsory education requirement. Some groups had misinterpreted the text to mean that all the regulations applying to public and private schools—including bans on guns on school property—would be applied to the home schools.

That’s not the case. Indeed, this language is not new, but rather was imported from Missouri’s existing homeschool statute, which has never been interpreted to incorporate all the regulations governing public and private schools.

Fortunately, Missouri lawmakers saw through the cloud of confusion and voted to expand education freedom and opportunity.

Also on Thursday, Nebraska lawmakers voted 33 to 14 to pass a new scholarship policy for students from low-income families. As in Missouri, the bill received exactly the number of votes necessary to pass—in this case, a supermajority was needed to overcome a filibuster—so the support of Democratic state Sen. Justin Wayne was crucial.

Wayne called out the hypocrisy of his colleagues who voted against expanding education choice for others while exercising choice themselves. “The only people who are denying choice are the people who have choice,” he said during the debate over LB 1402, noting that the legislators speaking against the bill “are the same ones opting their kids into private schools” or who have the ability to “pick up and move and go somewhere else.”

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen, a Republican, is expected to sign the bill.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers elsewhere are also making progress on advancing education choice. The Louisiana House of Representatives on April 8 passed a bill to create an education savings account policy for all K-12 students. The vote was 71-32, including six Democrats. The bill is now under consideration in the state Senate.

The New Hampshire House of Representatives likewise in March passed a bill to expand eligibility for the state’s Education Freedom Scholarships from 350% to 500% of the federal poverty level, or from $109,200 to $156,000 annual income, for a family of four.

However, the bill has encountered some obstacles in the New Hampshire state Senate, where lawmakers reduced the income cap to 400% of the federal poverty line, or $124,800 for a family of four. That would leave out a lot of families who would be eligible under the House version, but not the Senate version, such as a typical elementary school teacher married to a typical registered nurse in the state, or a physical therapist married to a police officer.

Instead of curtailing the proposal, state lawmakers should follow the lead of Louisiana’s House and the 10 states that have already expanded eligibility for their education choice policies to all K-12 students.

As the organization EdChoice’s most recent Schooling in America survey shows, the public prefers when education choice policies are open to all. The EdChoice survey found that 76% of the public supports Education Savings Accounts that are available to all families, regardless of income, while only 54% support ESAs that are targeted based on financial need.

Whatever happens next, 2024 is already a banner year for education choice.