Arizona, So. Carolina, Virginia Seek to Expand School Choice


Arizona, South Carolina, and Virginia have taken legislative steps towards creating new private school options for families in need of higher-quality education.

Arizona leads the way after Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a new state tax-credit scholarship program for low-income families. House Bill 2626 has also passed the state’s House of Representatives — and if it makes it to the statute books it will allow 94,000 Arizona children the choice to use Education Savings Accounts to attend private schools.

Virginia’s House of Delegates also approved a tax-credit scholarship program for low-income students and Governor Bob McDonnell has indicated that his will sign the bill when it reaches his desk. While Arizona’s new law is the fourth such program in the state, if the Virginia bill passes it will be state’s first foray into private school choice.

17 states already allow private school choice and South Carolina is the latest seeking to join this club. A personal tax credit and deduction measure passed a legislative subcommittee at the end of February and supporters of school choice are hopeful that last year’s narrow failure to push through a school choice package will not be repeated this year.

“This is the start of another exciting year for school choice,” Robert Enlow, President and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, said. “In addition to these three states, private school choice expansion is being considered in Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Tennessee.”

Last year, 13 states either passed new parental choice programs in education or expanded upon existing programs. So far, 2012 appears to be building on that momentum.