Heritage an Early Advocate of Arizona’s School Choice Program


Heritage an Early Advocate of Arizona’s School Choice Program

Apr 19, 2017

Arizona passed legislation expanding the state's education savings accounts, allowing parents more choice in where to send their children to school. Photo: iStock

Across the country, states are expanding school choice options for parents and families. Leading the pack on this effort is Arizona.

This month, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill that expands educational options to all 1.1 million students in the state.

“The quality of a child’s education should not be determined by what neighborhood their parents can afford to live in,” says Ducey. “When parents have options, kids win.”

Arizona has been the leader in education choice. It was the first state to create education savings accounts (ESAs) in 2011.

The law, signed April 6, gives Arizona one of the broadest school choice programs in the nation.

Lindsey Burke, director of Heritage’s Center for Education Policy and the Will Skillman fellow in education, said Arizona’s decision is a win for both students and parents in the state.

Burke and The Heritage Foundation have been researching and advocating for education savings accounts for years.  

“Education savings accounts represent a breakthrough in public education financing,” says Burke. “Instead of sending funding directly to district schools, and then assigning children to those schools based on where their parents live, parents receive 90 percent of what the state would have spent on their child in their district school, with funds being deposited directly into a parent-controlled account.”

The average Arizona student will receive approximately $4,400 per year.

“Education savings accounts really are the future of education choice, and for some tens of thousands of Arizona students, the future is now,” says Burke.

Heritage’s Jennifer Marshall, vice president for the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity, and the Joseph C. and Elizabeth A. Anderlik fellow, says education savings accounts are a key part of the school choice agenda.

“Empowering all families with educational choice is a decades-old goal for conservatives, and education savings accounts are finally beginning to make this dream a reality,” says Marshall. “Lindsey saw the ground-breaking potential in this newest innovation in choice mechanisms and really helped conservatives prioritize efforts on this front.”