Arizona Legislature Passes Goldwater’s ESA Expansion to Empower Families

In a major victory for families weary of a one-size-fits-all approach to education, the Arizona Legislature today passed a groundbreaking bill which ensures all Arizona families can access school choice. Sponsored by Rep. Ben Toma, HB 2853expands eligibility for Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program to every family in the state.

ESAs, which Goldwater pioneered in Arizona more than a decade ago, put money that would otherwise go toward a given child’s public education into an account that parents can use to customize their child’s education experience to best meet their unique needs. The ESA program has gone from serving 100 students in 2011 to more than 10,000 today, and if Gov. Doug Ducey signs HB 2853 into law, more than one million students will be eligible for the program.

You can find out more about what HB 2853 does—and doesn’t—do for Arizona families below:

What does HB2853 do and why is it needed?

  • Expands eligibility for the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program to every family in Arizona.
  • Families would receive over $6,500 per year per child for private school, homeschooling, ‘learning pods,’ tutoring, or any other kinds of educational service that would best fit their students’ needs.
  • Any child who wishes to opt out of their local public school (or who already has) would be allowed to join the ESA program under the bill.
  • Many families currently make financial sacrifices and shoulder the expense of private school tuition or paying for homeschool supplies. These families are all currently entitled to send their child to a public school (at a cost of over $10,000 per year to taxpayers), regardless of their income. This bill would ensure that all families have the freedom to choose whatever form of education best fits their child.

Does this harm existing ESA families or will it crowd out families who are already eligible for the program?

  • No, this bill places ZERO new restrictions on any family who is already eligible for the ESA program, including special needs students.

This bill does not have any testing requirements. 

  • Homeschool families are NOT required to do ANY testing of their students in order to participate in the ESA program under the bill.

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