The state of Arizona will soon implement the most expansive school voucher bill in the nation, giving the freedom of school choice to all parents in the state.
As reported by the Washington Free Beacon, the bill will put public funds into Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) and allow parents to pull their children out of the public school system; families will have the option of using ESAs for either homeschooling or private tuition options. The bill passed through the Arizona House of Representatives and the State Senate last week, and Governor Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.) has said that he will sign it.
Under the current law, ESAs can only be accessed by families of students who are either disabled, in failing schools, or part of military families, which amounts to roughly 10,000 students across the state. With the new law, the number of students who will be eligible for these funds will be over one million.
“This legislation is the most robust expansion of educational freedom in the nation,” said Matt Beienburg of the Goldwater Institute. “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’s passage came around the same time that the Supreme Court ruled that states are not allowed to discriminate against religious and private schools when determining eligibility for state-funded school voucher programs, thus allowing such institutions access to public funds in one of the biggest legal victories for the school choice movement in recent years.
In Arizona, families in the ESA program will now receive over $6,500 per year for their children to attend private schools, religious schools, or homeschooling. And even public schools benefit from the program, with each school receiving about $600 back every time a student leaves in favor of the ESA program, thus increasing funding per pupil.
There are currently eight states with such statewide voucher programs, including Arizona, which was the first in the nation to enact such a savings account program back in 2011.