One of the country’s most expansive school choice laws has taken effect in Arizona now that a petition drive attempting to bring the issue to the 2024 ballot failed to collect enough valid signatures.
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is running for Arizona governor, announced in a statement on Twitter that there were not enough valid signatures to delay the state’s new universal voucher program.
The Arizona Department of Education is reviewing applications for parents looking to use the state’s education savings account, or ESA, which is open to all school-age children. Under the program, participating families can receive over $6,500 per year per child for private school, homeschooling, microschools, tutoring or any other form of education provided outside of a traditional public school system.
A student cannot be enrolled in public or charter schools to receive ESA funds.
The nonpartisan, community-based organization Save Our Schools Arizona fell short of its goal to collect 118,823 valid signatures by Sept. 24 to stop the universal voucher program from taking effect at the start of the 2022-23 school year.
“This is a monumental moment for all of Arizona’s students. Our kids will no longer be locked in underperforming schools. Today, we’re unlocking a whole new world of opportunity for them and their parents,” said Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in a statement upon signing the program into law July 7.
With the universal voucher program going into effect, Save Our Schools Arizona said in a statement on Facebook that “Arizona’s public schools were dealt a devastating blow.”
“The decision by Ducey and the Legislature to enact this dangerous law is further proof that they have abandoned their constitutional obligation to provide adequate resources for public school students,” Save Our Schools Arizona said. “Arizona’s public schools are on the verge of losing $76 million virtually overnight as these ESA voucher funds are siphoned to private schools and homeschooling with little to no academic or financial accountability.”