Should Arizona Expand Education Savings Accounts?

Commentary & Community

Should Arizona Expand Education Savings Accounts?

 

Arizona legislators want to expand student access to state-funded savings accounts that could be used to pay for private school tuition. A group called Save our Schools Arizona doesn’t like that idea. In November, the state’s voters will decide the future of education choice in the state.

 

In 2017, Arizona legislators passed a law that Governor Doug Ducey signed that would expand the use of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs). These accounts were first established in 2011 for students with disabilities whose parents opt them out of the public school system. The state Department of Education funds ESAs at 90% of the state’s spending for a student in his or her public school district. The money in an ESA can be used for education expenses such as private school tuition or textbooks. Under the 2017 legislation, any Arizona student would be eligible for an ESA.

 

Save our Schools Arizona collected enough signatures to place this issue on the ballot as a “veto referendum.” This will allow voters to overturn the law if a majority votes “no” in November.

 

The opponents of expanded ESAs contend that this is nothing more than a way to funnel taxpayer money to private schools. They argue that this will drain funding from public schools that do not have enough money. They also say that it will hurt the state’s efforts to improve education, something that will slow job growth.

 

Supporters of allowing more students access to ESAs counter that this is simply giving parents more control over the money being spent to educate their children. They say that parents, not bureaucrats, can better manage the money so that their children receive a better education. They also note that the opposition to expanding ESAs come from people who want to prop up public schools, no necessarily improve education for individual students.

 

Do you think that Arizona should provide resources so that parents have more education choices for children? Or are state-funded education savings accounts a way to undermine Arizona public schools?

 

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