Arizona Kids’ Education Under Attack from State’s Own Governor
When it comes to educational choice, Arizona ranks highly, offering a range of options for students with varying needs and preferences. But not everybody is happy that families have such leeway in teaching their kids. Chief among the opponents of such freedom is Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, who is doing her best to herd kids into government-run institutions. She could do a lot of damage to what has been a healthy environment for education and learning.
A Leader in Education Freedom
At the moment, Arizona parents and guardians pick traditional public schools across district lines, select among publicly funded but privately managed charter schools, educate their children at home, or have per-student funding follow learners to their chosen private schools.
“Arizona provides K–12 students and their families ample school choice options, including five private educational choice programs, charter schools, magnet schools, home schooling and public school choice via open enrollment,” EdChoice notes in its summary for the state.
In its 2024 EdChoice Yearbook, the organization ranks Arizona second after Florida for “the state that has the largest share of students choosing a non-public school option through a program like education savings accounts, vouchers or tax-credit scholarships.” The listing puts special emphasis on the state’s education savings accounts (ESAs) which were extended in 2022 to essentially all students.
“Part of what animated my run for governor in 2014 was universal school choice,” former Republican Gov. Doug Ducey told Reason‘s Katherine Mangu-Ward last month. “The Milton Friedman idea that he shared on Free to Choose in his book and his PBS series is something that took me all eight years of my governorship to accomplish.”
The first effort to expand a limited ESA program was defeated at the ballot box by choice opponents, Ducey added. But then came COVID-19 “and parents were able to see what their kids were being taught or not taught and the level of rigor and expectation from the public schools. They also saw that the charter schools opened and the Catholic schools opened and many of the largest public districts chose to stay closed for nearly two years, even when the government was telling them to open. So we were able to pass universal educational savings accounts.”
Arizona’s ESAs (branded as “empowerment scholarship accounts”) let students take “90% of the state funding that would have otherwise been allocated to the school district or charter school” for use “to pay private school tuition, for curriculum, home education, tutoring and more,” according to the state’s Department of Education.
School Choice Wins a Popular Following
Article from Reason.com
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