Arizona Expands School Choice Program
Arizona's governor has signed into law a significant expansion of the state's innovative "Empowerment Scholarship Accounts" school choice program. Currently, parents with a special needs child in a state school can qualify to have about 90% of state funding deposited into an education savings account. Those funds can be spent on a variety of educational needs from private school tuition to tutoring programs.
Only 142 students participated in 2012, but the newly expanded program could see much larger participation. In the 2013-14 school year, children currently enrolled in “D” and “F” schools, children of active-duty military parents, and children who have been adopted out of Arizona’s foster system or who are in the process of a finalized adoption will also be able to access a portion of state funding.
Talk about a custom approach to providing education. Parents can truly tailor their child's instruction to meet very specific needs. Jonathan Blucher, Education Director for the Goldwater Institute, said as much in a press release about the new program.
"Thanks to this program’s expansion, more students in Arizona will be able to customize their education—something we could have only dreamed of just five years ago. We’re not talking about just choosing a different school, but a complete school experience specifically designed for each student.”
In what comes as a huge shock to no one, the state's School Boards Association has been condemning the program expansion.This quote from the Arizona School Boards Association legal counsel could have been written by Jackie B. Hicks (Who knows, maybe it was) - "It is a voucher. This is trying to get the camel's nose under the tent. The playbook is the same. You find a sympathetic group from a political and public-relations standpoint and then get a program for them. Establish legal precedence. Broaden it to everyone."
It's amazing how some groups that claim to support "education" can only look with resentment at an incredibly creative initiative to give students a personalized education. Is this discussion about doing what is best for students, or about power and influence?