The GOP-led legislature in Arizona has just set the “gold standard” for school choice around the country.
Lawmakers passed a groundbreaking bill last week that will allow the state’s 1.1 million students from K-12 to access a school of their choice, The Daily Wire reported:
Under the new bill, HB2853, every family in the Grand Canyon state would be eligible for the State’s 2011 Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program — initially designed for disabled, military, or failing students. The program grants families $6,500 in tuition annually per child for private or home schools or learning pods — which have grown increasingly popular nationwide over the last few years due to COVID shutdowns, mandates, and woke ideology.
“This legislation is the most robust expansion of educational freedom in the nation,” Matt Beienburg, director of education policy of Goldwater Institute, told the Washington Free Beacon.
“It guarantees every Arizona student, whether they are coming from public school, private school, or homeschooling, the opportunity to join the ESA program and receive their share of state funding to pursue any educational opportunity that best needs their needs,” he added.
The institute, which paved the way for the ESA program more than 10 years ago, reports that it has gone from serving 100 students to more than 10,000 at present. The organization also stated that many families make great financial sacrifices every year to shoulder the expenses of private school tuition or supplies for homeschooling.
However, those same families have access to enroll their kids in public schools, which costs taxpayers more than $10,000 per year regardless of their income.
Earlier this year, GOP Gov. Doug Ducey pressed lawmakers in his State of the State address to “think big” for Arizona families when it comes to Arizona children’s education.
“This session, let’s expand school choice any way we can,” Ducey said. “Send me the bills, and I’ll sign them.”
On Wednesday, he tweeted, “In Arizona, we trust parents to make the best decisions for their children’s education.”
In Arizona, we trust parents to make the best decisions for their children’s education. https://t.co/PqLWkl9sBL
— Doug Ducey (@DougDucey) June 29, 2022
Corey DeAngelis, a senior fellow at school choice advocacy group American Federation for Children, noted Sunday in an interview with Fox News the legislation is “the biggest victory when it comes to school choice in U.S. history.”
“Arizona is now the gold standard for school choice, and they’ve now cemented themselves as the number one state for education freedom and supporting parental rights and education,” DeAngelis told the network. “This is the way every state should do, and they should follow Governor Ducey’s lead.”
The senior fellow also added that GOP lawmakers across the country claim they are the party of parents, but Republicans in Arizona “proved it.”
As before, the left-wing teachers unions are opposed to the legislation, and while they claim it’s because the measure will take money away from the public school systems, it’s really that they hate losing control over children.
“We urge Arizona state senators to support our public school educators and students by voting no on expanding private school vouchers,” the Arizona Education Association, the largest teacher union in the state with more than 20,000 members, said in a statement.
DeAngelis said that the move will actually do the opposite, providing a “win-win” for both sides.
“[It’s] the state portion of the total funding,” he said. “The schools are funded state, locally, and federally, so the public schools get to keep some of the money, and they’ll actually end up with higher per-pupil revenues and expenditures.”
Ducey has not yet signed the measure but he is expected to this week, The Daily Wire added.