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Arizona Ranks 1st in Education Choice in Back-to-Back Years

November 13, 2023

Arizona is leading the nation in freeing families from a failing public education system thanks to the Goldwater Institute’s work. For the second consecutive year, Arizona is the #1 state for education choice in America and the #2 state for overall education freedom, according to the Heritage Foundation’s annual Education Freedom Report Card.

Arizona’s impressive ranking comes as more than 70,000 students have taken advantage of the state’s universal Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program—the most expansive program of its kind in America. Universal ESAs, which the Goldwater Institute enacted last year as the gold standard for school choice after pioneering the nation’s first ESA program in Arizona more than a decade ago, give every family in the state the opportunity to customize their child’s education experience to best meet their unique needs. As the Heritage Foundation notes:

For the second year in a row, Arizona ranks #1 for education choice. Arizona does exceptionally well in giving families the freedom to choose among private, charter, and district schools as well as other learning environments. Arizona offers K–12 education savings accounts (ESAs) that all families can use to customize the education of eligible students. Arizona also generally respects the autonomy of homeschooling families.

That’s not all: Goldwater’s work to make universal school choice in Arizona a reality sparked a national movement. In 2023, Goldwater and our coalition partners expanded school choice in more than a dozen states, giving families universal school choice in six states.

So how can Arizona build on its successes and overtake Florida on as the #1 state for education freedom in next year’s rankings? It can start by adopting the Goldwater Institute’s Academic Transparency reform, which protects parents’ right to know what their children are learning in taxpayer-funded schools by requiring public school districts to post a list of their learning materials online, as well as Goldwater Institute-led provisions against race-based educational practices.

As Goldwater Director of Education Policy Matt Beienburg wrote in the Arizona Capitol Times after last year’s rankings came out: “Enacting these laws will not only help vault Arizona to the top of the Heritage Education Freedom rankings next year, but will help fulfill the call to action embedded in those rankings: aligning our education systems with the needs and priorities of students and parents.”

Arizona has much to celebrate for its stellar ranking on Heritage’s annual report. Now, lawmakers should get to work on making Arizona the #1 state in the union for education freedom.

Mark Habelt is a Ronald Reagan Fellow at the Goldwater Institute.



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