Supporters Want To Extend Education Vouchers To 40 Percent Of Students

January 07, 2014

A 2011 law provides the parents of children with special needs what are called empowerment scholarship accounts on the state treasury to buy education services wherever they want. That was expanded last year to students going to schools with D and F ratings.

So far, the courts have rejected claims that the plan violates a constitutional ban on aid to private and parochial schools.  Now State Rep. Debbie Lesko wants to allow any student who is eligible for free or reduced meals, or about 40 percent of all students, to get an account.

“I believe that students should have the best possible options on their educational choice,” Lesko said. “My goal is to improve education.”

Lesko says that could even mean home schooling for some parents. But according to Andrew Morrill of the Arizona Education Association, parents already have other options like open enrollment and charter schools.

“It’s a bad policy and this is expansion of a bad policy that has shown no track record for improving the system overall, which is how it was touted,” Morrill said.

The Arizona Supreme Court has not yet decided if the program is constitutional.