Voucher deadline approaching for students in low-rated schools

April 29, 2013

The parents of students in poorly performing public schools are facing a deadline this week to get state help to put their kids in new schools.

Lawmakers approved what are called 'empowerment scholarship accounts,' two years ago for students in schools with a D or F rating. There are no F-rated schools but about 250, with more than 70,000 total students, are D-rated. Parents of those students have until Wednesday to apply for the vouchers, which are good for about $3,500 according to bill sponsor Representative Debbie Lesko.

“The goal is on the D and F schools, is that you know, it gives another option to those parents to take their children out of a D or F school that obviously, the school is not doing a very good job of teaching them,” Lesko said.

But as the students flee, the schools they leave get less in state aid. Andrew Morrill of the Arizona Education Association maintains supporters of vouchers have a goal in mind.

“This is an agenda to defund public schools, privatize the system a year and a bad policy at a time,” Morrill said. “And of course we want students well educated; we just think the state ought to get back to what the voters want, which is, they indicate time and time again, access to a well-funded, neighborhood school as an option.”

Representative Lesko says she wants the best education possible for the students and if that means a private school, they should have that choice.