Aaron Gulbransen Says Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s Universal School Choice Bill Will Be First Order of Business in January

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Aaron Gulbransen, executive director of the Tennessee Faith and Freedom Coalition, said he believes state lawmakers will craft a final bill for Governor Bill Lee’s universal school choice proposal before the General Assembly convenes in January.

Lee’s school choice bill, the Education Freedom Scholarship Act, failed to pass the General Assembly during its recent convened session.

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Commentary: The Rapid Growth of Educational Freedom Is Unprecedented

According to the latest ABCs of School Choice  – EdChoice’s comprehensive report about all matters pertaining to education freedom – policymakers in 40 states have debated 111 educational choice bills in 2023, 79 percent of which related to education savings accounts. (ESAs allow parents to receive a deposit of public funds into a government-authorized savings account with restricted, but multiple uses. Those funds can cover private school tuition and fees, online learning programs, private tutoring, community college costs, higher education expenses, and other approved customized learning services and materials).

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Greatest Number of State Legislatures Pass School Choice Bills in 2023

Students and Teacher

Multiple legislatures across the country attempted to pass or passed some form of school choice legislation this year.

“Policymakers in 40 states debated 111 educational choice bills – 79 percent of which related to ESAs,” Robert Enlow, president and CEO of EdChoice, said when announcing the findings of a newly published EdChoice report, the “ABC’s of School Choice.”

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$2 Million in Awards Granted to Six Arizona Education Providers to Expand Parental Choice as ESAs Move Forward

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) and Janine Yass, the founder of the Yass Prize, revealed Tuesday the winners of the STOP for Arizona Education Awards, which is granting a total of $2 million, to six of the state’s education providers with the best developed plan to meet the demands of the rising numbers of parents eager to make use of Arizona’s new Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs).

The awards are presented following an announcement, by the office of Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), of results of a campaign by an anti-parental choice group that attempted a referendum to repeal HB 2853, the ESA law.

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Arizona’s School Choice Expansion Very Likely to Be Halted as Signatures Mount for ESA Blockage

Arizona’s historic legislation expanding school choice to every child in the state appears likely to be placed on hold right now, as a ballot measure aimed at stopping the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) expansion will probably make the 2024 ballot. Save Our Schools Arizona (SOSAZ) said its signature collectors turned in 141,714 signatures for “Stop Voucher Expansion” to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office on Friday. Only 118,823 valid signatures were required by Sept. 24, leaving plenty of room for error with bad signatures.

Jenny Clark, the founder of Arizona-based Love Your School and a new appointee to the Arizona State Board of Education whose children participate in the ESAs, told The Arizona Sun Times, “Today 11,000 Arizona students had the opportunity of an ESA put on hold. Every day that a child struggles in a school that’s not working for them is detrimental. But this is far from over. We will be monitoring the signature verification process, and continuing to walk alongside Arizona families and their children.”

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Arizona Legislature Considering ‘Most Expansive Education Savings Account Program in the Nation’

The 2022 Arizona legislative session is almost over, but there are still a few key bills policy watchers say have a good chance of making it into law. One is HB 2853, which would expand school choice by opening Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) to all K-12 students in the state.

Cory DeAngelis, a national education policy expert who serves as national director of research for the school choice organization, American Federation for Children, tweeted, “This would be the most expansive education savings account program in the nation. All families would be able to take their children’s education dollars to the education providers of their choosing.”

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Tennessee Republican Party Issues Statewide Call For Support of Governor Lee’s Education Savings Account

As Governor Bill Lee’s legislation on Education Savings Accounts is set to be voted on by the full House Education Committee on Wednesday, March 27, the Tennessee Republican Party calls for support of his education plan. The Tennessee Republican Party (TRP) sent a personalized email Friday saying, “We need your help!” “Governor Lee and Tennessee’s students are counting on us!” The TRP said that Governor Lee “has put forward a bold, conservative plan to ensure that every child in Tennessee has access to a high-quality education.” To help the Governor’s agenda and show support for school choice, the email includes a link to send an automatic email to the respondent’s legislator. The link connects to page with a heading “Show your support for Education Savings Accounts,” and a quote from Governor Bill Lee, “We’re not going to get big results in our struggling schools by nibbling around the edges. That is why we need Education Savings Accounts in Tennessee, this year.” The page goes on to explain ESAs: Education savings account programs (ESAs) give parents greater opportunity to use their state education dollars to find the best learning environment for their children ESAs can be used for school tuition and…

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