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Arizona Opens Up School Choice to All Children

State bill is 'the most robust expansion of educational freedom in the nation,' says think tank

Students at the private Dalton School in 2014 / Getty Images
• June 28, 2022 4:10 pm

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Arizona will enact the nation's most expansive school voucher bill, allowing all parents to decide where their children will attend school.

The bill, which allows Arizona families to take their children out of public school and puts public funds into Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, also known as education savings accounts (ESAs), that families can use for homeschooling or private-school tuition, last week passed the state House and Senate. Governor Doug Ducey (R.) has said he will sign the bill, which will expand the number of students who can use savings accounts from 10,000 to more than 1 million. As the program stands now, only students who are disabled, in failing schools, or in military families can access the savings accounts.

"This legislation is the most robust expansion of educational freedom in the nation," Goldwater Institute director of education policy Matt Beienburg 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."

The bill passed the Arizona Legislature during the same week that the Supreme Court extended school-choice eligibility nationwide by prohibiting states from discriminating against religious institutions in school-voucher programs.

Arizona families in the ESA program will receive more than $6,500 per year for their children for private school, homeschooling, or other educational services. The program does not drain money from public schools, however, a Goldwater Institute analysis found.

In fact, a public-school system usually gets back around $600 when a student leaves in favor of an ESA, increasing per-pupil funding, according to the Goldwater Institute analysis.

Arizona in 2011 became the first state to enact education savings accounts. Seven other states now have similar voucher programs.

Close to 1.2 million students have left the public-school system since COVID-19 lockdowns and school closures began, according to the American Enterprise Institute.

Published under: Arizona, School Choice