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Arizona School Choice Bill Sets National Standard–Money Goes to Parents!

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

The Arizona legislature passed a School Choice bill last Friday that is being heralded as a model for other states to follow.  The bill is now awaiting a signature from Gov. Doug Ducey (R).

The bill will make monies available to parents (per student) for tuition assistance, and related costs, regardless of what school they send their child to.

The Washington Examiner reported today that the bill, HB 2853, will provide the family of every Arizona student access to an Empowerment Scholarship account that can be used for educational expenses.  Empowerment Scholarships are currently available to about 12, 000 students statewide, mainly for the disabled and the military.  The bill, passed along partisan lines with no Democrats voting in favor, will expand access to the accounts to all students and will become the Nation’s first “universal” school choice program.

The Examiner informs that Arizona will provide more than $6,000 per student that “can be used to cover any sort of school-related expense, including private school tuition, school material expenses, and private tutoring.

In an interview with the Examiner, Ducey said:

“Arizona has already been the leading state in the nation on school choice,” Ducey said. “This establishes Arizona as the gold standard of educational freedom and puts the power to parents to establish their child’s education.”

“This policy can transform our state…. I think if other governors follow suit, it can transform our country”

 “K-12 education has been flatlining for decades. And this is the innovative improvement that will take it to the level we expect so that our kids get a great education in math, reading, science, American civics, and character formation.”

Ducey’s next words must be magic to the ears of parents in Arizona, many of whom have been battling whack-nut school boards, yet more mythical to parents in blue states (ahem, California) who are in similar bouts with union-controlled boards.

“The legislation, Ducey said, will allow parents to “vote with their feet” and take their children out of the public schools that they might otherwise feel trapped in, whether it be because of inadequate instruction or controversial curricula such as critical race theory.

“[This bill] puts the parents in control. The parents have all the power. They are consumers now — and they’re pretty good consumers,” Ducey said. “And what they’re going to do is what’s in the best interest of their child, and now, they can take action when necessary.”

Every indication is that Ducey will sign the bill.  Ducey challenged the legislature earlier in the year to think outside of the box in terms of education reform.

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The Gateway Pundit reported that “Governor Doug Ducey challenged the lawmakers in his State of the State address to “think big” regarding their children’s education.  This session, let’s expand school choice any way we can,” Ducey said. “Send me the bills, and I’ll sign them.”

The Pundit further reports that Ducey tweeted “In Arizona, we trust parents to make the best decisions for their children’s education.” on June 29.

It will be interesting to observe the reaction of Arizona teacher unions–indeed, all teacher unions– and to the populations of the wokest districts.  This bill would force public schools to compete for the available money, which they will lose if they stay in their current mindset.