Arizona Expands Groundbreaking School Choice Program to Students Attending Failing Schools, Foster Care Children
Posted on Tuesday May 15, 2012 | Arizona
Law will significantly increase eligibility for state’s first-of-its-kind education savings accounts program
PHOENIX, AZ (May 15, 2012) –Governor Jan Brewer yesterday signed into law a sweeping school choice expansion that will grant eligibility to students attending failing schools, students of military personnel, and foster care children to participate in a first-of-its-kind private school choice program offering parents an unprecedented level of choice in their children’s education.
The American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for school choice—praised Governor Jan Brewer for signing the legislation, which significantly increases the size and scope of the Arizona Empowerment Scholarships Accounts (ESA) Program, the first and only education savings account program in operation in America. The American Federation for Children (AFC) also praised the legislators who worked to expand the ESA program, which is now poised to serve thousands of disadvantaged children across the state.
In addition to special needs students, who currently qualify, the legislation would allow the following students to enroll in the program: those who attend a school or school district rated a “D” or “F” by the state department of education, children of a member of the U.S. Military, and children in foster care.
“We applaud the work of Governor Brewer and Arizona legislators for their work towards creating new pathways for children to succeed,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children. “This program is already helping students with disabilities and, thanks to the dedicated work of supporters, will expand to more students seeking more educational options.”
The remarkable expansion of the ESA program comes on the heels of a number of private school choice victories in 2012. Last month, Louisiana lawmakers approved a statewide expansion of the New Orleans school voucher program, and earlier this year, Virginia become home to a statewide scholarship tax credit program.
AFC, and our affiliate the Alliance for School Choice, have been actively engaged in helping Arizona create and implement more educational opportunities for nearly a decade. Arizona enacted the ESA program—its fourth publicly funded private school choice program and the nation’s first education savings account—in April 2011. The program allows parents of students who are identified as having a disability to receive 90 percent of the per-pupil expenditure to use on a variety of educational tools, including tuition and fees, textbooks, educational therapies, and tutoring.
More than 30,000 students participate in all four of Arizona’s private school choice programs. There are currently 142 families participating in the ESA program in the 2011-12 school year.