AZ expands private vouchers program, robs public schools of millions

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By Brian Washington

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has recently signed into law a bill to expand the state’s voucher scheme to include kindergarteners—a move that could rob the state’s public schools of $65 million within the next several years.

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Senate Bill 1363 uses public dollars for private education by setting up so-called “Empowerment Scholarship Accounts” (ESA) for students to attend private and religious schools throughout their K-12 education.

According to the Arizona Education Association, which represents educators from across the state, the financial impact of the program is expected to be higher than $7.2 million in the first year and could reach $65 million by its fifth year.

Educators say the legislation doesn’t include any accountability measures to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not going to waste.

“The AEA strongly believes these dollars are better invested in public education where there are multiple accountability measures in place which help to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being properly spent,” says AEA President Andrew F. Morrill.

“Opening this program to allow kindergarten students who may have never enrolled in public schools to immediately start receiving these funds, will be a net loss to the state over the student’s entire K-12 education.”

The legislation also ensures that parents, who always intended to send their children to private schools, will forever have a voucher to help pay the cost. The new law also increases state funding for the current voucher program—increasing the amount per student by $1,600 for those students who previously attended a charter school.

A coalition of education groups—including the AEA—is currently involved in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law.

Click here to stay current on voucher schemes in Arizona and across the nation and other issues impacting students, educators, and public schools.

Reader Comments

  1. There’s a private low income high school in Chicago with 100% of its students going to college. 40% of students who entered 4 years earlier somehow had disappeared before the senior year. I guess, those students hadn’t follow the plan and rules. I heard same thing happened in Houston, TX which started NCLB.

  2. The writer above me is absolutely right in saying it is selfish and very wrong to take some of government money, intended for education, and put it into private schools. What people spend for of their own money is their own business, but our government is for all people, not just those with means to pay, and must be kept that way or it would be blatant discrimination. We owe it to all of our nation’s children to give them the best possible education; our children are our most important inveastment.

  3. If parents are not getting a solid 3 “R’S” for their children and sex ed and “2 Mommies” are what their kindergartener hears-they deserve the choice (parents “right to choose” sound familiar?) to opt out and take a voucher to another and better school!

    1. Just so you are aware, two of those three “R”‘s don’t actually start with an R. Parents will always have a right to select another school for their child, but they don’t have a right to take money away from public schools to do it.

    2. Parents now have the right to send their children to countless charter schools or the public schools in their area. What I resent as an AZ taxpayer is MY tax money supporting private and Christian schools and taking away money from the public schools. That is not what our democracy was based on! I hope the AEA wins the lawsuit as they usually do. Then I hope our idiot lawmakers get voted out next election!

      1. Parents have the right to send their child to any school they choose
        even if this is a home. Is the money not for their child? If so, it is not your tax dollars, it theirs. What would it cost to educate a child in Arizona?
        I did not have the opportunity for vouchers in California. I could not get back all my tax dollars sent to schools to pay for my children’s education. I had to pay again to get an education for my children. Was it fair to see all my tax dollars spent without my benefit?

  4. This type of bill is designed to create a permanent upper-class, rich controlled society. It is unconstitutional, racist, and immoral. Take from the poor and give to the rich, what a arrogant uncaring attitude. The only hope for America is to educate all children with as much money as is necessary. Maybe we could use fewer fighter jets, tanks, and force corporations to pay their fair share of taxes for sending jobs overseas. The GOP, the party of corporate America, blocks anything that gives equal opportunity for all children. It’s all about greed.

    1. How twisted can you possibly get? In Arizona the poorest, most multicolored child can go to a charter school. The parents can CHOOSE the school in which their child can get the best education. They aren’t stuck in the local public school which may have substandard scores. Permanent upper class??? This offers any student the way out of the “lower class” by letting them choose the very best school, public or private. Don’t try to stifle competition – make your school the very best so students can get the best education there, and they will come.

      1. You are an idiot. Oops. Sorry to be so blunt. Sure, just cause’ those colored kids get vouchers, they gwine do bettah!

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