The Wall Street Journal editorial board is shining a national spotlight on Goldwater’s work to make school choice for all a reality in Arizona.
“School Choice Blooms in the Desert,” touts the headline of the Journal’s article Monday praising Arizona for expanding eligibility for its Empowerment Scholarship Account program, which Goldwater pioneered in the state more than a decade ago.
Late last week, the Arizona Legislature passed a groundbreaking bill ensuring that all families are eligible for the ESA program, which puts money that would otherwise go toward a given child’s public education into an account that parents can use to customize their child’s education experience to best meet their unique needs. The Journal notes:
Arizona was the first state to create an education savings account (ESA) program in 2011. But only some students can apply—such as those with disabilities, in low-performing schools, or who reside on an Indian reservation.
The new bill allows any of the state’s more than a million K-12 students to be eligible for more than $6,000 for education expenses, including private school tuition and curricular materials. Most other state programs cap the number of students, set income eligibility requirements, or require students to be enrolled in public schools to apply. Arizona’s program may be the nation’s broadest.
The bill also expands the use of ESA funds for transportation and such equipment as computers or other education technology. The scholarship money is funded by the state and equal to 90% of what the state would provide for charter-school students. It will follow students to the schools of their choice—private, charter, or traditional union-dominated district schools.
The editorial goes on to point out that “support for school choice has increased since the pandemic.”
“Parents discovered that district officials and unions often weren’t responsive to their concerns on school closures” and curriculum content, the editorial says, adding that pro-school choice governors like Doug Ducey in Arizona and Kim Reynolds in Iowa “are right to take this political moment to push for school choice expansions that will build a larger constituency for the programs.”
When unions that dominate school governance realize they don’t have a monopoly on education finance, they may do more to improve the schools they run. And if they don’t, parents will have the freedom and resources to do better by their children.
Goldwater is proud to have expanded school choice in 19 states in 2021, and we won’t stop until parents in every state in the nation are empowered to decide what educational path truly meets their children’s unique needs.
Read the full editorial at The Wall Street Journal.