In Arizona, vouchers allow students to enroll in the school of their choice—even if that school is their own home. The state’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program gives homeschooling parents most of the money the state would have spent to educate their kids in the public system.The program is less than three years old and currently capped at 5,500 enrollees. It is only available to students who have special needs, belong to military families, or live in low-performing school districts. But today that may change: The state House of Representatives will vote on whether or not to expand the program to include thousands more students, including some from low-income neighborhoods.Unsurprisingly, supporters of the public schools have criticized the program, as the WSJ reports:
Tim Ogle, director of the Arizona School Boards Association, which unsuccessfully challenged the program’s constitutionality, called ESAs “philosophically flawed.” When public funds are spent on private schools and services, “there’s no public oversight,” he said. Private entities “never have to report their graduation rates, attendance or standardized test performance,” he said.
However, the state does oversee the parents’ expenditures:
Parents have to report their expenses quarterly to case workers with the state education department, and the next quarter’s funds are held until all expenses are approved.
No other state has implemented a program like this so far, although a few have talked about it. We hope other states will follow Arizona’s lead and provide some much-needed support for homeschooling parents. While we don’t believe that homeschooling will ever become the norm, we do think that it is an excellent option for some families. States should make it as easy as possible for parents to obtain the type of education they think best for their children.