Governor Brewer Signs Education Savings Account Expansion

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed the expansion of the Education Savings Account program. The first year program provides students with 90% of the funds that would have gone to their public school into an account with multiple possible uses-including private school tuition, private tutoring, online program and saving for future college/university expenses, among other options.

The bill signed today expands eligibility to children attending D and F rated schools and school districts, the dependents of active duty military personnel and children that have been through the foster care system. The law also moves to a system of formula funding, making it one of the largest private choice laws in the nation with funded eligibility, behind only the new Indiana and Louisiana voucher laws on a percentage basis. The Arizona program now resembles an expanded combination of the Florida McKay and Opportunity Scholarship programs with the 21st Century twist of broadening the options of parents and requiring the consideration of opportunity costs (what you spend now cannot be saved for later).

I want to thank Rep. Debbie Lesko and Senator Rick Murphy for their steadfast and dedcated sponsorship of the bill and our in-state and national allies. Governor Brewer is building an impressive K-12 reform legacy that includes not only expanding parental choice, but also improving public school transparency, curbing social promotion and modernizing the teaching profession. In the not so distant future, we will be able to look at the trends in NAEP scores and identify Governor Brewer’s term and a half as a turning point for the better.

We have many miles to go in Arizona, but we are on our way!

8 Responses to Governor Brewer Signs Education Savings Account Expansion

  1. Mike McShane says:

    Hey Matt, is that 90% of the state’s contribution or 90% of the total per pupil funding (local, state, and federal)?

  2. matthewladner says:

    90% of the state contribution. We’ll have to figure out whether it is possible to access the federal dollars, local is probably a bridge too far.

  3. Ayn Marie Samuelson says:

    Does the Education Savings Account Program apply to all students, regardless of any other defining variable except that they are students?
    Does this also apply to homeschooling families?
    If not, then it falls short of true choice for all students and families.
    Speaking from experience, the education system fails to serve those students in higher ranking schools where they pass the basic, annual tests with greater ease.

  4. matthewladner says:

    Ayn Marie-

    The ESA program has a seperate legal standing from homeschooling in Arizona. The same is true for students participating in state financed online learning programs.

    Only certain groups of students already attending public or charter schools are eligible to participate in the ESA program. Having said all of that, the program does allow ESA program participants to use the funds to pay for online programs and curriculum. Learning at home is an option for ESA participants, but it is not homeschooling in the legal sense.

    These distinctions were made at the request of the home-schooling parents, who understandably desire to have their own standing and independence.

  5. Carol Shippy says:

    Arizona has a statutory definition of homeschooling in place and we have other laws that would be impacted with acceptance of state funds for our school choice. We appreciate that the sponsors of this bill were willing to work with us to protect our school choice which has a 30+ year history in our state.

  6. […] researcher Matthew Ladner notes: The law also moves to a system of formula funding, making it one of the largest private […]

  7. […] researcher Matthew Ladner notes: The law also moves to a system of formula funding, making it one of the largest private […]

  8. […] researcher Matthew Ladner notes: The law also moves to a system of formula funding, making it one of the largest private […]

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