It has long been the view of Center for Arizona Policy that parents should have as many options as possible available to them for how to educate their children. After all, parents should have the fundamental right to direct the education and upbringing of their children.
Here are a few significant CAP-supported school choice bills signed into law this past session that further this mission:
SB 1363 – This legislation dealt with Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program. The ESA program was established in 2011 and provides monetary assistance to parents to be used for a variety of educational options in place of their child attending a traditional public school. Specifically, it focuses on students with the greatest need for educational options and the categories of students that are qualified students in schools or school districts with an achievement profile grade of “D” or “F,” students previously participating in the Arizona Scholarships for Pupils Disabilities program, students in foster care who were adopted or who have a plan for permanent adoption, and children whose parents are in the United States military.
The first change that SB 1363 made to the ESA program was to allow those entering into kindergarten, who would otherwise be qualified for the program, to be eligible for the program. Prior to this change, a student was needlessly required to attend kindergarten before obtaining eligibility for the program.
The second change made by SB 1363 was to increase the funding available to parents in the ESA program. The importance of this change cannot be overstated because it increases the funding available for most ESAs from $3,800 to $5,400 per school year.
HB 2458 – This legislation also dealt with the ESA program and put into statute key anti-fraud provisions in order to protect the program from abuse while also ensuring families still have the opportunity to utilize the school choice benefits of the program.
Both of these laws build on the successes of the legislature in recent years to expand educational options for Arizona parents. The impact of the ESA program is only starting to be realized, and it is the hope of Center for Arizona Policy that many more Arizona families can benefit from this groundbreaking program.
Center for Arizona Policy is committed to programs like the ESA program and the School Tuition Organization scholarships because children deserve to get the best education attainable and parents have the fundamental right to make the choices for their children’s education.
Watch my personal testimonial video on school choice.