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  • Arizona's Governor Drops the Ball on School Choice

    “Every child deserves to have an education tailored to meet their needs, and parents deserve the right to make that choice,” stated Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) last year. A self-professed proponent of school choice, last night she shed that mantle and vetoed legislation that would have provided significant new choices to students in failing schools.

    Last year, Arizona was on the forefront of a school choice revolution, thanks in large part to Governor Brewer. The Grand Canyon State created first-in-the-nation Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA). Through the ESAs, parents of special-needs children who believe their assigned public school isn’t meeting their child’s needs can have 90 percent of the money the public school would have spent deposited into an education savings account. Parents can then use the money to pay for private-school tuition, online learning options, special education services, and a variety of other educational expenses.

    ESAs truly empowered parents to tailor their special-needs children’s educational experiences to best meet their specific learning requirements. Moreover, this innovative approach to school choice had education reformers looking west for inspiration in other states. It was one of the highlights of “The Year of School Choice” in 2011.

    This year, a proposed expansion of education savings accounts would have provided choice to any child trapped in a school rated as “D” or “F” or any child with a military parent.

    Last night, Brewer blocked the door to better options for these students by vetoing the proposed legislation. In a statement about her veto decision, Brewer argued that “we must also ensure that government is not artificially manipulated [sic] the market through state budget or tax policy in a manner that would make an otherwise viable option so unattractive that it undermines rational choice in a competitive market.”

    Actually, what’s distorted is today’s public education system. Children are assigned by zip code to attend a public school. If that school is not adequate academically or in terms of safety, those parents who can afford private education do so at double expense—paying their local property taxes to public education while also paying private-school tuition. An expansion of ESAs would actually correct government manipulation of the market, favoring parents and children, not the education establishment. ESAs empower parents to use their share of education funding to choose from educational options. It’s built on the notion that “public” education doesn’t have to mean government schools.

    Governor Brewer should be applauded for expanding Arizona’s tuition tax credit program earlier this year. But it’s a shame that she has dampened that school choice momentum. Let’s hope for the sake of Arizona’s children—and policymakers across the country keeping a keen eye on the reforms in the west—that Brewer returns to being the stalwart school choice proponent she was last year. If so, she could rightfully carry the mantle of “school choice governor,” and thousands of Arizona children would have an array of educational options before them as vast as the Grand Canyon itself.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to Arizona's Governor Drops the Ball on School Choice

    1. rcorley11 says:

      I think that last visit by Obama put some Yellow in her spine, It was pretty strong until then. Wonder if she was threatened?

      • Helen Spingola says:

        I have the same thought. Did "somebody" 'get' to her?? ….Too bad….too sad.

        Right on – wondering….did somebody "get" to her??? too bad…..too sad.

      • shar says:

        Exactly my thoughts…..she is acting completely different than 9 months ago. I think there IS a GOOD chance that she got the same talking to that Clinton did when he said Obama wasn't eligible for the ballot.
        I'm starting to think we've already lost. It's hard to keep hope up forever

      • shar says:

        my thoughts EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. Robin Grace says:

      I need more info.. I would bet the language of the bill is what she is vetoing.. which in turn, incites the legislature to keep at it. Her statement that is quoted..has a background. Need to find out what that is. The author of this should have offered more info on that also.

    3. Robin Grace says:

      short article, a link to the Bill vetoed would be an asset to such a short article. There are many of us who do more than read 'drive by ' articles and take them at 'face value'.

    4. Alaskan says:

      Why am I allowed to choose my dentist or my hairstylist based upon who I think is best for me, but I am not allowed to choose my children's school based upon what I think is best for them?

      • Bobbie says:

        that's the fear in public education. it's not paid by people individually. So the country gets what we don't know while limitless money is taken by the tax payers through forced obligation, put into the pockets of government who uses it to fulfill an agenda of what is only suspect because the government hides their intent by convincing everyone otherwise! Actions speak louder than words and our children are the result of the agenda.

        There is no proper government education as I have two victims with one recovering from it. To put it simple, kids are taught to do what they're told to do but not to think to do anything beyond and for themselves. That's how control beyond our own but paid by us develops this "entitlement mentality." Government control schools paid with our money, are intentionally disallowing common sense and reasoning! First agenda is "dummy down" America. Too many parents fall into the convenience of public school without recognizing the danger of government holding too much power to dummy down our children's minds! It's beyond the peoples' control and the consequence is our future. Teach your children well! The government is using them at every advantage the government can give themselves.

    5. Bobbie says:

      That's is just awesome of the Governor!
      That's what "cool" is. When you stop the government cheating everybody without public offense to the oversensitive feelings of the guilty play dumbers, in the government party.

    6. Ranchman says:

      Gov. Brewer has disrespected those who believe the birth certificate is a forgery and now this? Has she come to the defense of one of her Sheriffs, Sheriff Joe Arpaio? No, she has not done that either. Something is up with our venerable Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer. Has she been threatened in anyway by DC? Is she being controlled somehow? I don't know but something just doesn't feel right with her and I've learned to at least follow up on these hunches.

    7. Sean says:

      I live in AZ, and she is a dolt. She has no business in the office of Governor.

    8. Elaine says:

      School choice is one of the most important ways children can get a good education. Let parents make the choice!

    9. Sally says:

      By 3rd grade you can tell a child's IQ. In Europe, they are then placed in technical or academic schools. The idea of 'no child left behind' has become a dumming down of our schools. Let's call a spade a spade.

    10. Choice Media says:

      Stop the Presses:
      Arizona Governor Brewer's education chief is now signaling that the voucher initiative may go forward after all.

      It's covered here: http://choicemedia.tv/?p=19651

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