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A Second Look into Arizona’s Education Savings Accounts
posted by: Alana | March 08, 2016, 11:40 PM   


Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) are becoming an increasingly hot-button issue for education advocates all across America – perhaps none more so than those in Arizona. ESAs allow parents to use some of the public finding earmarked for their child to pay for school-related services and tuitions. Despite push back from the status quo, a new report by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice reveals the truth about how ESAs are helping students.


A follow-up to an earlier look into ESA data, this report titled “The Education Debit Card II: What Arizona Parents Purchase with Education Savings Accounts” takes a second in-depth look at how participants in Arizona are really using the program. This is what they found:

  1. Funds are being used toward not only private schools, but toward tutoring, online programs, curricula, educational therapy, and more. In fact, these multiple learning service initiatives factor nearly one third of all funds spent.
  2. Families are using the funds not only to prepare their students for the school year, but for the future educational initiative as well. In fact, about one third of funds went unspent this reporting period. The accounts are designed to “roll over” from year to year.
  3. Parents are choosing a wide-variety of school options that best suits their child’s own unique set of needs, including: college prep schools, international schools, Montessori schools, schools for students with autism or hearing impairments, and much more.
  4. Just as classrooms across the nation are becoming more and more diverse, so too are the demographics of those choosing to participate in ESA programs. Once limited to students with disabilities, Arizona’s ESA program is now supporting students otherwise assigned to failing schools, children of military service members, and students living on tribal lands, among others.


The results indicate a growing popularity for choice in education that is shared not only by parents and students, but by all education stakeholders. As families continue to seek alternatives, teachers are finding themselves growing personally and professionally in non-traditional school settings like those supported by ESA programs.


According to the 2016 AAE National Membership Survey, teachers have started to embrace policies that increase options for students and teachers alike. Specifically, 71 percent of surveyed members expressed support for Nevada’s universal ESA law.


Like our members, AAE knows that school choice is a vital component of the education reform movement. We understand that students learn differently, so a one-size-fits-all learning environment is mostly counterproductive. As educators we must recognize the possibilities for advancement and positive growth in the profession through school choice.

Why do you think ESAs are becoming more popular?
Tell us in the comments below.


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