February 15, 2023 – Arizona Alliance of Black School Educators (AzABSE) Statement Against the Expansion of the Empowerment Scholarship Account in Arizona: We Support Education Excellence for ALL Children

Introduction

Arizona has one of the most open school choice environments and one of the lowest funded education systems in the United States. These two factors have significant negative implications for Arizona’s children and their families, especially those in the most minoritized communities. In 2018, 65% of Arizona voters voted against Prop 305, which would have opened the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program, otherwise known as school vouchers, to up to 30,000 students. Yet, four years later in 2022, the Arizona Legislature disregarded the voters and enacted an even greater expansion of school choice by passing the largest universal voucher program in the nation. This program offers families an annual voucher of approximately $7,000 per student that can be used toward educational expenses, including private secular and religious education, homeschooling, and more.

Research on existing school voucher programs in other states shows several concerning consequences, particularly when it comes to educational quality and equity. In terms of test scores in reading and math, recent studies show significantly negative outcomes of school vouchers in Washington D.C., Ohio, Indiana, and Louisiana.

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