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Arizona expands school choice: Families eligible to receive up to $7,000 per student 


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Sarah Robsdottir - published on 08/19/22

For some, Arizona Governor Ducey has set the "gold standard" for school choice, but opposition is mounting and the new law could be suspended.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey celebrated the passing of a universal school choice law earlier this week at a gathering at Phoenix Christian Preparatory School. The new law extends Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) to all school age children in his state. These ESAs in the amount of approximately $7,000 per student had previously only been available to disabled children, those with special needs and children in failing schools. 

“Arizona is now the gold standard for educational freedom in America,” Ducey said in a press release. “Our kids will no longer be stuck in underperforming schools. We’re unlocking their educational potential and advancing a bold new era of learning opportunities. Parents and teachers know there is no one-size-fits-all model for education. Kids and families should be able to access the school or learning program that best fits their unique needs – regardless of income or where they live. In Arizona, we’re making sure they have that choice.”

House Majority Leader Ben Toma sponsored the bill:  “I was proud to continue the Arizona tradition of leading on school choice and bring educational freedom to more than 1.1 million students,” Toma said, “By opening Empowerment Scholarship Accounts to every K-12 student, we will improve outcomes and make choice a reality for all students. This session, we stood together to get this done for Arizona students and parents. Governor Ducey has been an invaluable partner in transforming school choice in our state, leading the way in unlocking the schoolhouse door.”

Opposition to the new law

Not everyone is happy about this new law. Save Our Schools Arizona reacted to the announcement by launching a petition to overturn the legislation. If they collect 118,823 signatures from Arizona voters by September 24th the law would be suspended. It would only then take effect if voters passed it at the ballot box in 2024.

Arizona voters were in a similar situation in 2018 when they rejected a ballot box question  that would have extended ESAs to all school-aged children in the state. That measure failed 35.2% to 64.8%.

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