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Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday signed the most “monumental” education savings account program in the United States.
“This is a monumental moment for all of Arizona’s students. Our kids will no longer be locked in under-performing schools. Today, we’re unlocking a whole new world of opportunity for them and their parents,” Ducey said. “With this legislation, Arizona cements itself as the top state for school choice and as the first state in the nation to offer all families the option to choose the school setting that works best for them … This is truly a win for all K-12 students.”
The Arizona State House and Senate passed Bill 2853 for the expansion of education savings accounts to have universal eligibility. Arizona, the first state in the nation to pass education scholarship accounts, expands the program to all 1.1 million K-12 students in the state.
According to State Rep. Ben Toma, who sponsored bill H.B. 2853, it ensures all Arizona children will now be eligible for scholarship funds to access the education that best fits their unique needs. The program provides parents with scholarships to cover educational expenses such as private school tuition, online education, education therapies, tutoring, etc.
“This win is the biggest school choice victory in U.S. history,” American Federation for Children National Director of Research Corey DeAngelis told Fox News Digital shortly after the governor signed the bill. “Arizona just cemented itself as the number one state for educational freedom. This move is the gold standard of school choice. Every single family, regardless of income, will be able to take their children’s taxpayer-funded education dollars to the education providers of their choosing.”
Ducey promised to implement school choice on a wide scale in a State of the State address earlier this year.
“This session, let’s expand school choice any way we can … Send me the bills, and I’ll sign them!” Ducey said during his speech.
Private school choice, or providing all families with alternatives to the public schools they’re zoned for, can be expanded through multiple avenues at the state level, including school voucher programs, tax-credit scholarship programs, individual tuition tax credit programs and deductions, and education savings accounts (ESAs). Charter schools, magnet schools and homeschooling are also forms of school choice programs.
School choice became a salient issue after the COVID-19-induced lockdowns sparked a conversation on the scope of the government’s authority and the type of content that should be taught to children from public school curricula.
Many private schools stayed open while public school systems across the country closed in-person learning for entire semesters, even years, and remote learning lifted the veil on what public school kids are actually learning – and not learning.
Private schools across the country reported an uptick in enrollment over the past two years, while public school enrollment declined on a national scale. Between fall 2019 and fall 2020, total public school enrollment dropped 3% nationwide, erasing a decade of steady growth, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Meanwhile, total enrollment in independent private schools saw a net growth of 1.7% between 2020 and 2022, NPR reported in December.
Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report.