House To Debate School Choice Issue Monday

March 10, 2014

(Photo courtesy of the Arizona State Legislature)
State Rep. Debbie Lesko.

On Monday the state House will debate a bill expanding eligibility for Arizona’s empowerment scholarships, which would enable more students to qualify for state money to let them attend private schools.

The scholarships now include students with special needs and those whose public schools got ‘D’ or ‘F’ grades. If the expansion is approved, students eligible for reduced-cost lunches and the siblings of blind students would qualify.

Republican State Rep. Debbie Lesko says her bill is just about providing school choices.

“My goal is to improve education and I just think that we should have more options for parents,” Lesko said. “Not all children are the same, not all children learn the same.”

Democratic State Rep. Eric Meyer calls the bill an assault on the public school system.

“It will take $30 million out of the general fund to go to these students, out of our school system, out of our general fund and into the private school system," Meyer said.

Meyer says the state’s public schools are already starving for funds and the private schools that get the money are not subject to state regulations.