Arizona governor Doug Ducey (R.) signed the nation’s most expansive school voucher bill last week, ensuring all students in the Grand Canyon State can attend the school of their choice.
The bill, which creates scholarship accounts for Arizona families to redirect funds from their child’s public school education toward private school tuition or homeschooling, passed the House and Senate at the end of June. Ducey’s signature made Arizona the first state in America to offer universal school choice.
Both state and federal school choice initiatives have met opposition from teachers’ unions who call such initiatives schemes to defund public school programs. President Joe Biden, who received more money from teachers' unions than any other candidate in 2020, opposes school choice, though he sent his own children to private school. House Republicans introduced two bills this June to establish a federal school choice program by enacting a $10 billion tax credit program to fund education scholarships, arguing the program widens opportunities for students.
Severely economically disadvantaged communities in Arizona are the primary users of the scholarship accounts. The accounts are most popular in the state’s 10 most disadvantaged school districts, the Goldwater Institute, a conservative public policy research and litigation group, found in a 2019 report.
"Arizona has been a national leader in school choice for decades, and this new legislation will further throw open the doors of educational opportunity for all students," Goldwater Institute director of education policy Matt Beienburg told the Washington Free Beacon. "This legislation takes what parent advocates have only dreamed of and makes it a reality: putting families, not bureaucrats, in control of our children’s education dollars."
Arizona's school choice victory came a day after a West Virginia circuit court judge struck down the Mountain State’s voucher program, which would have allowed public school families to use state education funds for private school, homeschooling, or other educational services.