Kudos resound for Arizona’s education scholarship account program expansion

Members of Save Our Schools cart boxes of signed petitions to a storage room at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix last week. The petition drive fell short of minimum signature requirements, so the program will roll out as planned. PHOTO: Alex Gould/The Republic

School choice expansion in Arizona became official last week with an announcement from Secretary of State Katie Hobbs that school choice opponents would not meet the minimum signature requirements to stop the program and send it to the ballot.

Hobbs, a Democrat running for governor who opposed the plan, said her office’s review of signatures came up short of the nearly 119,000 that were needed. Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program now will be available to every student in the state.

Congratulatory remarks from school choice advocates, including leaders at the American Federation for Children, soon followed.

Statement from American Federation for Children CEO Tommy Schultz:

“Arizona is now the national standard-bearer for education freedom, and we’re thrilled to have stood behind Arizona parents and advocates for years as they achieved this resounding victory. Elected officials in every state should look to Arizona leaders like Gov. Ducey, Rep. Toma, and others for their political courage and look to follow their example.”

Statement from Arizona State Director of the American Federation for Children Steve Smith:

“Today marks the culmination of what thousands of families across the state have spent years fighting for. After several exceedingly challenging years with learning loss and grown-up politics getting in the way, the students have won. We are thrilled to know that all 1.1 million Arizona students will now have access to unlimited educational opportunities that school choice brings.”

Corey DeAngelis, a senior fellow at the federation, weighted in on Twitter, writing, “All Arizona families can now apply to take their children’s state-funded education dollars to the education providers of their choosing.”

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who championed the plan and signed it into law in July, also celebrated on Twitter, saying, “Let’s roll!” and “Parents prevail.”

Arizona’s education savings account program is now available for 1.1 million eligible families across the state, making Arizona the broadest school choice state in the nation. The program allows parents to receive scholarships by redirecting their current education tax dollars for expenses, such as private school tuition, resources for schooling at home, online curriculum, education therapies, tutoring, and more.

The ESA amount is expected to be approximately $7,000 per student per year.