Matthew Ladner is right when he says: “This has been quite the week for parental choice in Arizona.” Of course, as my GoBash blogging friend noted, on Monday a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling upheld the state’s private school tax credit program — an important precedent. But Ladner’s statement comes from a posting primarily about an innovative proposal making its way through The Grand Canyon State’s legislature:
Yesterday the Arizona Senate gave the final passage for SB 1553, Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, the nation’s first system of public contributions to education savings accounts as a choice mechanism, 21 to 7. Designed to replace Arizona’s special needs voucher program lost to our Blaine amendment, the ESA program will allow the parents of a child with a disability to withdraw their child from a public district or charter school, and receive a payment into an education savings account with restricted but multiple uses. Parents can then use their funds to pay for private school tuition, virtual education programs, private tutoring or saving for future college expenses.
Could it really be “the way of the future” for school choice? If so, the future may be now. I have to give more thought to Ladner’s suggestion that the “ESA” idea soon should supplant voucher programs because of “a superior design.” Maybe you can join me in reading an in-depth Goldwater Institute report on the topic he co-authored with Nick Dranias. Other states are important, too, but I’ll be reading it with an eye on the questions: Is the Education (or Empowerment) Savings Account idea a good fit for Colorado? How would it work here?