School choice changes education path for Native American children in Arizona
By Kim Martinez
As back-to-school time sweeps through Arizona, there’s a pocket of students starting more than a brand new school year, they are on a whole new path to success. This year, a new school choice law went into effect opening up the Empowerment Scholarship Account program universally to Native American families living on any of the state’s 22 reservations.
For the Gordon family, this new law changed their lives within a few short months. At the beginning of the summer, Sonya Gordon thought her three girls would just attend their same low-performing neighborhood school once again when the new school year started. In June, she found out about an opportunity to apply for the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program during a special enrollment period. ESAs allow for parents like Sonya to choose the education path best suits their children. State-funded scholarship accounts can be used to pay for private school tuition, online curriculum, home school expenses, books, tutors and other education expenses, whatever the parent chooses.
As their new promising future begins, we visited Sonya’s family and their new school, St. Michael Indian School in Window Rock, AZ on the Navajo Nation: