Arizona District Considers Vouchers

Arizona District Considers Vouchers
November 20, 2013

Joy Pullmann

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)

School Choice Weekly, Issue #17

Douglas County, Colorado’s school board was the first in the nation to create a district-run voucher program. The suburban county’s voters recently re-elected a conservative majority to that board – and now a school board member in Arizona has proposed her district run a voucher program, too.

Here are some of board member Staci Burk’s comments discussing the idea, taken from a Facebook group jokingly named “Gilbert Public Schools Rabid Fringe”:

GPS has been moving through many of the exact steps Douglas County took in their reform efforts. …The next step is to establish a committee to evaluate choice options for parents. After that if this is something parents would like to see, Gilbert will be the 1st District in Arizona to offer school choice options for parents outside of the typical system.

The plan involves this; Parents will be given the option to place their child in a private school of their choice. ... Parents will be granted 75% of the State Aid that GPS receives from the State to place their student at a local private school.

There is an advantage to the teachers and students that stay in GPS, the District retains the 25%, to be used to offset overall budgetary issues. In Douglas County, the District of approximately 60,000 or so had only 300 some students enroll in the choice program and it gained the District a half million in revenue.

Parents were happy and the student scores went up. They compete Nationally with Massachusetts schools and have become the top District in Colorado.

[T]he program would be similar to the ESAs already being implemented by the Arizona State Department of Education. The funding would not be paid directly to the private school thereby resolving any separation of Church and State issues should a parent select a religious private school. Check the records, they won the appeal in Colorado and the program was deemed Constitutional. I have been following it closely for 2 years.

The Gilbert District would not attempt to regulate any private school (religious or not) in any way. It is the parents choice and responsibility to oversee the education of their child.

Thank you to the conservative school board in Douglas County, Colorado that has paved a path in the legal arena and provided valuable case law for us.

Expect to see more of the same if the Colorado Supreme Court agrees with lower courts that Douglas County’s vouchers program is legal.

SOURCE: Facebook, East Valley Tribune


IN THIS ISSUE:


School Choice Roundup

  • CHOICE CLASH: Private and charter school advocates met recently to discuss how legislation could solve a problem charter school expansion has created: increasing one kind of school choice at the expense of another. Research shows charters mean fewer private schools although private schools get better results.

Common Core Watch

  • OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Education Secretary Arne Duncan sparks social media outrage by saying Common Core resistance comes from “white suburban moms” who are upset “their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were.”

Education Today

  • MOOCs: The man perhaps best known for free online education decides to change course. Despite several different attempts, students attending the online classes failed and dropped out at extremely high rates.
  • SAFETY: Despite high-profile shootings, U.S. schools are safer than ever, data show. Essentially every form of violent crime inside schools has gone down since 1992.

Joy Pullmann

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)