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Arizona Enacts Goldwater’s ‘School Choice for All’ Reform to Empower Families

July 7, 2022

Arizona families in search of education options received new hope today as Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law a groundbreaking reform that ensures all students can access school choice.

Sponsored by Rep. Ben Toma, HB 2853 expands eligibility for Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program to every family in the state, establishing a new national standard for school choice.

“Families deserve the right to choose the best education option for their children, regardless of zip code. This reform empowers parents weary of a one-size-fits-all approach to public education to customize their children’s schooling based on their unique needs,” Goldwater Institute President and CEO Victor Riches said.

“States around the nation should follow Arizona’s lead and pass legislation that funds students, not systems,” Riches added.

ESAs, which Goldwater created in Arizona more than a decade ago, have been hugely successful in empowering parents to customize their child’s education experience to best meet their needs. The ESA program has gone from serving 100 students in 2011 to 11,000 today. Thanks to HB 2853, more than one million students will now be eligible.

Under the legislation, families who wish to opt out of their local public school will receive over $6,500 per year per child for private school, home-based education, “learning pods,” tutoring, or any other kinds of educational service that would best fit their students’ needs. 

Arizona’s ESA program has been particularly beneficial to those most in need of additional educational options. As a 2019 Goldwater Institute policy report showed, the highest concentrations of ESA usage actually occur in the most severely economically disadvantaged communities in Arizona—meaning that the program is providing new opportunity to students who will benefit the most from it.

That’s not all. According to Goldwater’s Decade of Success report, for the 2020-2021 school year, ESA awards covered almost completely the median cost of private elementary and middle school tuition rates in Arizona. Considering that median private school tuition rates were significantly lower than public-school-per-pupil-funding rates in Arizona for that school year, it’s easy to understand why the concept behind ESAs is so overwhelmingly popular among parents. 

For years, Goldwater has been at the forefront of giving parents more education choices, both in Arizona and nationwide. We’re proud to have expanded school choice in 19 states since 2021, and we won’t stop until parents in every state in the nation are empowered to decide what educational path truly meets their children’s needs.

As recent polling shows, it’s clear that the American public overwhelmingly supports giving families more educational choices. Lawmakers should take heed and follow Arizona’s lead.

You can learn more about how this universal school choice expansion empowers families here. And visit to learn how Empowerment Scholarship Accounts can be a lifeline to ensure that children get the education they deserve. 



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