Educational Freedom

By Paul Parisi   6-5-2023

This has been a really good year for education in Arizona. At the capitol, a budget was passed by 2/3 of the legislature and signed into law by the Governor that includes an extra $300 million for K-12, $342 million for school facilities and $88.6 million on ongoing public education funding. What’s most important for educational freedom is that the very popular universal Empowerment Scholarship Account program that was passed into law last year remains intact….at least for now. Governor Hobbs has her sights on having lawmakers repeal the program.

Since 4Tucson began 12 years ago, we believe it’s a parent’s responsibility to choose the best possible education for our children. In order to have educational freedom, we have championed school choice legislation from open enrollment, public charter school, home school, online schools, private school tuition tax credit scholarships through school tuition organizations (STO) and empowerment scholarship accounts (ESA). We also support well funded public education with parental rights and input on what is being taught in the classroom.

STO’s have been around since 1998, where dollar for dollar state tax credit awards scholarships for private schools. STO’s are popular with low income families that need more tuition funding than what ESA’s provide. ESA’s were originally designed for a very narrow group of students. Last year legislation was passed that allows all Arizona parents to be eligible to receive around $7,000 to send their children to private schools and for educational tools and curriculum for home school. Public schools receive over $13,000 per student. The bottom line is ESA’s save the taxpayer money.

Since ESA’s became universal, around 58,000 parents have taken advantage of the program. That number is expected to increase. In comparison, 1.1 million attend public schools. A lot of numbers have been thrown around on the impact ESA’s have on the budget. The best explanation I have heard detailing the actual cost and benefits of ESA’s is in a podcast with Cathi Herrod, President of Center for Arizona Policy and Matt Beinburg, Director of Education Policy of the Goldwater Institute. Matt was instrumental in writing the ESA legislation and Cathi Herrod led a coalition of advocates for the passage of universal ESA’s. Take the time to listen to ESA Myth Debunked.

4Tucson has recently launched an Education Taskforce headed by Elizabeth Wilson. On June 22nd and 23rd 4Tucson is hosting a 2 day marathon session designed for all teachers and people interested in education called Teach 4 the Heart. The goal is to build a strong biblically based support group for teachers. Teachers receive 10hrs of professional development credits for attending. Learn more and Register.