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'Huge': Arizona Becomes 'Gold Standard for School Choice'

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File

Parents across the nation have continued fighting for more educational freedom for their children. In Arizona, it's a call that's been answered since 2011, when the state became the first in the nation to introduce educational savings accounts. Though the program was limited in scope at its inception, it has continually expanded over the years. Now, Republicans in the state have another victory under their belt. 

Last week, the Arizona House approved a voucher program that allows any of the state's public school students to apply to use public funds for private or parochial schools. 

The state’s lawmakers expanded eligibility for the Empowerment Scholarship Account program to all students in the state at the conclusion of the 2022 legislative session. Previously, approximately one-quarter of Arizona students were eligible to participate.

Also during the 2022 session, the Arizona Legislature substantially increased K-12 funding for public schools, and by a two-thirds vote, suspended an aggregate expenditure limit that would have prevented districts from spending money already in their possession.

The usual suspects will decry this session as “destroying Arizona public education” but actually what it represents is the next logical step in an experiment in education freedom. (reimaginED)

"I really do wonder often why should private schools be the exclusive domain of the wealthy," said House Majority Leader Ben Toma. "Why shouldn't every child in Arizona have that same opportunity?"

The state Senate voted 16-10 to approve the measure. 

Republican State Sen. Vince Leach said public school kids in his district have been "hemorrhaging kids" over the last five years. 

“They’re leaving because parents are making a decision,’’ said Leach. He said schools are spending less time teaching basics and more time on things like Common Core standards “when 2 plus 2 equals anything but 4 and parents can’t help their kids with simple basic math problems.’’ On top of that, he said, are programs like structured English immersion and what’s been called “critical race theory.’’

By contrast, Leach said, the charter schools in his district, public schools that are privately owned and operated, are all full.

“What does that tell you about the government schools?’’ he asked. (Tucson.com)

Conservatives praised the legislation and said other red states ought to follow suit. 

Gov. Ducey hailed the measure on Monday and said children "will no longer be stuck in under-performing schools." 

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