School Choice Championed

July 15, 2011 by  

“The most promising cost-effective strategies for improving education include healthy doses of competition and consumer choice, an approach championed by Nobel laureate Milton Friedman.”   Investors Business Daily

Other states are catching up, but Arizona continues to lead the nation in offering parents plenty of educational choices for their kids – in April the courts confirming their rights to direct education dollars:  Students Win in Court Ruling.

Here’s a summary of this session’s work undergirding school choice in Arizona:

SB 1553:  Parents should never see their child trapped in a school that lacks the facilities, teaching capacity, or curriculum they desire for their son or daughter.  This bill provides parents of children with special needs the opportunity to redirect state funds for education services that best meet their children’s needs.  For more on AZ Empowerment Accounts click here.  Read the bill: SB 1553

SB 1453:  Arizona law offers parents of children in traditional district schools to opt their student out of any material or activity that the parent believes is harmful because it questions beliefs or practices in sex, morality, or religion.   However, before SB 1453 was passed parents of students in public charter schools were not afforded the same rights.   SB 1453 provides for parents’ rights in charter schools and requires parental permission for the use of audio, video or electronic materials that are not age-appropriate.  Read more here.

SB 1152:  According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 1.1 million students in the United States complete their education in the home and that number is only set to increase in the future.   In Arizona, the growth of homeschool groups has provided evidence of a vibrant and thriving community of children educated in the home.   In fact, homeschools are a cornerstone of education in Arizona.  To ensure this option remains available and free from regulation, SB 1152 clarifies that home-educated children continue to be treated as nonpublic school students.

Bottom line:  the intention of the legislature is to keep homeschooling free from regulatory intrusion.

HB 2581:  The bill permitted additional contributions for scholarships that allow children to attend the schools that their parents believe are best for them.*

SB 1186:  This bill permitted additional contributions for scholarships that allow children from low income families or with special needs to attend the schools that their parents believe are best for them.*

*Unfortunately, the last two bills (HB2581 and SB1186) were vetoed by the governor.  In doing so, Governor Brewer, who has long been a school choice supporter, cited budget and tax policy issues she envisioned the two bills might create.

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