State Rep. Ben Toma (R-Maricopa) released a statement of celebration Monday following the news that Save Our Schools Arizona (SOSAZ) allegedly failed to provide enough signatures to force a referendum on Arizona’s universal Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) law.
“Chalk up another major victory for Arizona families wanting the freedom to choose the education that best meets their child’s needs,” Toma said in a press release. “School choice is increasingly popular with Arizona parents, especially those whose children are stuck in a failing school, so I find it baffling that anyone would try so hard to take that choice away from parents. It’s good that they have apparently failed.”
An Arizona mother and leader of the “Decline to Sign Arizona” movement, Christine Accurso, shared that there is hope for Arizona’s universal Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) law as Save Our Schools Arizona (SOSAZ) may not have submitted enough valid signatures to pause the law from going into effect.
“ESA’s for all coming soon! As we patiently await the official word from the Secretary of State’s office, Arizona parents declare the victory over this battle. The 88,866 signatures that were submitted are well below the minimum of 118,832,” tweeted Accurso.
Jenny Clark, the founder of Love Your School, spoke with the Arizona Sun Times to explain the newly signed House Bill (HB) 2853, sponsored by state Rep. Ben Toma (R-AZ-22), which expands the eligibility for Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) and how it will benefit parents in the state.
“The expansion means that every Arizona family who has a child in kindergarten through 12th grade is now eligible to take a portion of their education dollars to the school or education environment that works for them,” Clark said. “The empowerment scholarship can be used for tutors, therapists, home education, and it can be used for private schools.”
Arizona is likely to become the first state in America that empowers students to take tax dollars with them to a school of their choosing.
Lawmakers sent House Bill 2853 to Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday. When the governor signs the bill, all of Arizona’s school-age children will be eligible for the Empowerment Scholarship Account. An ESA is a state-funded account that parents can spend on tuition and other education expenses. The program is currently limited to disabled students, those in failing schools or others that qualify in a handful of other methods.
PHOENIX, Arizona – Three Arizona House Republicans voted against an amendment to significantly expand school choice during Friday’s budget discussion. State Representatives Joel John (R-Buckeye), Michelle Udall (R-Mesa), and Joanne Osborne (R-Goodyear) all voted against the school choice legislation sponsored by State Representative Regina Cobb (R-Kingman) as amended by State Representative Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix).
HB 2898 as amended under Bolick would have added 14 provisions addressing Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) Program. In part, Bolick’s amendment would have opened up children of veterans and children in free or reduced-price lunch programs to ESAs, decreased the amount of time students must attend government schools full-time to be eligible for ESAs, allowed ESAs money to be used for educational therapies not covered by insurance and public transportation services, entitled children to equitable shares of funding otherwise allocated to school districts or charter schools for that child, and mandated the state to include ESA children in the statewide weighted student count for calculation of per pupil amount from the Classroom Site Fund (CSF).