Arizona can go even bolder on school vouchers; here’s how

The program signed into law by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, the largest school voucher program in the country, is changing how families in Arizona can spend public education dollars by opening up the option for all families to spend at private schools a portion of tax funding initially allocated to public education.

Editor’s note: This commentary from Janine Yass, co-founder of the Yass Prize to Transform Education to support parental choice, appeared Tuesday on 

When Arizona leaders stepped up to invest in the development of future generations, it was a wake-up call for policymakers across the country to put education – and America’s students – back on the agenda.

For the citizens of Arizona, the educational futures of their students improved dramatically when Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law the expansion of the Empower Scholarship Accounts (ESA), making it possible for every parent – not just the affluent – to invest in their child’s education.

This is exactly how it should be across the country, not just in progressive states like Arizona. Instead of the government starting and funding its own schools, it should create accounts for kids that parents can use to pay for the best educational fit for their child.

While Arizona’s annual per pupil expenditure is low compared to most other states, averaging at $8,770, the national average funding per pupil for K-12 education, according to the Education Data Initiative, is just over $15,000. Where educational outcomes are the worst – America’s urban core – the average per pupil expenditure often exceeds $20,000 per student!

Long before parents plan their children’s schooling, the education system is already planning how it will spend dollars when young students enter the classroom. Regardless of their background or circumstances, children are zoned into a particular public school.

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BY Special to NextSteps